Premium large car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $17,200 – $86,400*

2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

  • Acceleration
  • Handling
  • Interior materials
  • Quietness
  • Ride
  • Seat comfort
  • Fuel economy

Simply put, the S-Class defines luxury motoring. Encompassing serenity and inspiring road manners are its hallmarks. Ingot-solid structural integrity adds considerably to S-Class appeal. Unfortunately, cars of this caliber also force the driver to interact with diversionary high-tech features, many of which require far too many steps to adjust. Our Best Buy pick is the S550, which delivers such high levels of performance and luxury that it is difficult to justify paying so much more-new or used-for any other S-Class models.


Mercedes-Benz’s redesigned its flagship luxury sedan for 2007 with new styling, more power, and a broader array of safety and convenience features. Compared to the 2000-2006 S-Class, the 2007 version measured about 3 inches longer in wheelbase and 2 inches longer overall. Four versions were offered: two regular sedans, plus two high-performance editions. The S550 had a 382-horsepower V8. The S63 held a 518-hp V8. The S600 and its high-performance S65 cousin used turbocharged V12s, rated at 510 and 604 horsepower, respectively. All models had an automatic transmission: seven-speed in the S550 and S63, five-speed in the S600 and S65. Each had rear-wheel drive, except that the S550 also was available as an all-wheel-drive 4matic model. Mercedes’ S65 had sport suspension tuning, sport exhaust and seats, and specific trim.

Antilock braking and traction/antiskid control were standard. So were front side airbags, rear side airbags, and curtain side airbags. The S-Class suspension automatically adjusted for firmness and load leveling. Mercedes’ Pre-Safe system also was standard; it sensed an impending collision and tightened the seatbelts, also applying additional braking force. Also included were Mercedes’ Tele Aid assistance and its COMAND system, which incorporated a video screen and console-mounted “joystick” knob to control audio, navigation, phone, and other functions. That system also accepted voice commands.

Available features included ventilated and massaging front seats, a heated and ventilated rear seat, and keyless access and starting. Also offered was a rearview camera. Mercedes’ optional Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control now operated in stop-and-go traffic as well as at higher speeds. Newly optional was Mercedes’ infrared Night View Assist, which projected onto an instrument-panel screen a black-and-white image of objects beyond headlight range. High-end rivals included the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, and Lexus LS.

Yearly Updates

2008 S-Class
A new Blind Spot Assist became available for S-Class models. Six radar sensors monitored the zone to the side and rear of the car, triggering a warning system in the mirror if an approaching vehicle was detected. Otherwise, little change was evident for the 2008 model year.
2009 S-Class
New for 2009 was Mercedes’ Parking Guidance System–which assists drivers with parallel parking–and Blind Spot Assist, which alerts the driver to the presence of another vehicle in the car’s blind spots. Optional on the S600 were restyled 19-inch wheels. All S-Class cars received steering-wheel shift paddles, which replaced gearshift buttons.
2010 S-Class
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup gained a new gas/electric hybrid model. It paired a 3.5-liter V6 gas engine with a battery-powered electric motor for 295 horsepower total. It used a 7-speed automatic transmission. Also new for 2010 was Mercedes’ ATTENTION ASSIST driver-fatigue alert, which sounds a chime and displays a warning in the instrument cluster if sensors detect a driver who might be drowsy at the wheel.
2011 S-Class
For 2011, the S63 got a new turbocharged 518-horsepower 5.5-liter V8, which replaced a 518-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. The S65’s 6.0-liter turbocharged V12 gained 17 horsepower to 621.
2012 S-Class
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class line gained a turbodiesel model. The S350 BlueTEC had a 240-horsepower 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 and standard all-wheel drive. There were no other changes of note.
2013 S-Class
S-Class saw only minor updates for 2013. Some previously optional equipment was made standard, and that was about it.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

In the S550, a 5.5-liter V8, rated at 382 horsepower, drives a seven-speed automatic transmission. Early S63s contained a 518-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8; for 2011, it was swapped for a turbocharged 518-horsepower 5.5-liter V8. A turbocharged 510-hp, 5.5-liter V12 went into the S600. The S65 got a 604-horsepower turbo V12, which was boosted to 621 hp for 2011. Each V12 engine works with a five-speed automatic transmission. Only the S550 has been offered with all-wheel drive as an alternative to rear-wheel drive. The 2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup gained a new gas/electric S400 Hybrid model. It paired a 3.5-liter V6 gas engine with a battery-powered electric motor for 295 horsepower total. It used a 7-speed automatic transmission. The 2012-13 S350 BlueTEC used a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel rated at 240 horsepower. It mated to a 7-speed automatic.

Turbodiesel dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 455
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


dohc V6/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/280
Engine HP 295
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 284
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic



dohc V81
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.5/333
Engine HP 382
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 391
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic



Turbocharged ohc V121
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.5/336
Engine HP 510
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 612
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


dohc V81
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.2/379
Engine HP 518
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 465
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


Turbocharged dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.5/333
Engine HP 518
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 465
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


1. EPA Note: Figures shown are for 2008 models. The Environmental Protection Agency changed its procedure for 2008 to yield more realistic estimates. Therefore, estimated mileage is lower than for prior years.

Road Test

Regardless of model, performance is an S-Class asset. The S550’s swift takeoffs support Mercedes’ claim of 0-60 mph acceleration in 5.4 seconds. Highway-speed passing power is particularly strong. No discernible difference is evident with the AWD S550. An S600 is stronger still, with abundant passing reserve. The transmission’s part-throttle downshifts are quick, but full-throttle downshifts suffer a moment’s delay. Both engines are silky smooth. Naturally, acceleration will be stronger yet with an S63 or S65. S400 Hybrid has sufficient power for most driving situations, though some testers found the transmission slow to downshift when most needed. Hybrid’s stop/start feature is nearly transparent in operation. We have had no opportunity to drive an S350 turbodiesel.

All that performance comes at a price in terms of fuel economy. A test S550 averaged 17.6 mpg in mostly highway driving. An S400 Hybrid averaged an outstanding 24.2 mpg. All models require premium-grade fuel.

S-Class models offer a peerless blend of control and comfort. Suspensions provide Sport and Comfort firmness settings. Sport makes the ride slightly more taut, but with little sacrifice in comfort.

These big sedans are poised and surprisingly sporty, considering their size and heft, exhibiting an uncanny ability to maintain composure in bumpy turns. Steering is perfectly weighted. Brakes are easily modulated. Distronic Plus cruise control (if installed) accelerates, slows, and even gently stops the car. But the driver must apply the brake in emergency-stop situations. The driver can regulate following distance, and Distronic Plus can be switched off, but fully trusting the system requires ample trust in technology.

Aside from some mild thumping over sharp bumps, travel is serene, with little noise from road or wind. The S550’s V8 emits a muted growl under full throttle, but is nearly silent otherwise. An S600’s V12 is barely heard, even under full throttle.

Gauges are large and clear. Controls and intriguing features are abundant, but nearly all require some study to understand, and many divert the driver’s attention. Most climate functions are handled by simple buttons, but the COMAND system absorbs too many audio controls, complicating their use. COMAND also governs a daunting array of navigation, phone, seat, suspension, and cruise-control adjustments. First-class materials and soft accent lighting create elegant interior ambience.

Front seats provide outstanding room and comfort. Seats offer fan ventilation, automatic-inflating side bolsters, and relaxing massage function. Night View Assist clearly identifies otherwise unseen objects, but watching the screen while driving can be slightly disorienting.

Rear-seat headroom can be tight for those over six feet tall. Legroom is ample for two passengers, but limited seat width and a high floor tunnel preclude comfortable three-abreast travel. Foot space is restricted with front seats set far back. The supportive seat might have optional heat and ventilation and power-recline features, with an adjustable-length cushion.

S-Class trunks are large, usefully shaped, nicely finished, and include an underfloor storage bin.

Lid hinges dip into the cargo area, but are covered. A power trunklid closer has been available. No folding rear seatbacks or trunk pass-through have been offered, and interior storage space is stingy.


Model Tested: 2008 S550

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 8
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 10
Steering/Handling - 8
Quietness - 10


Controls/Materials - 8
Room/Comfort Front - 10
Room/Comfort Rear - 9
Cargo Room - 5


Value - 10

Total: 82


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
124.6 205.6 205.0 83.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.3 23.8 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 38.5 41.9 42.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2007 Not tested 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Blower motor
Description: The blower may not run when first turned on, but may start running after hitting a bump due to a bad blower motor. (2007-08)
Description: The parking brake may not set, and a warning light may illuminate on the dash, due to failure of the parking brake switch. (2007-08)
Description: The interior door panels may come loose and improved retention clips need to be installed. (2007)
Suspension noise
Description: Front suspension of all-wheel-drive models may squeak at full steering lock because of paint on rubber boots. (2013)
Water leak
Description: Air conditioning condensation hose can leak water under front seats. (2013)
Windshield washer
Description: The low washer fluid may illuminate if distilled or deionized water is used instead of tap water. (2007-08)
Electrical problem
Description: Malfunction in fuse or relay boxes may result in the engine not starting. (2012-13)
Electrical problem
Description: Side marker lights may be continuously on because of damaged circuit. (2013)
Wind noise
Description: The sliding roof may have wind noise at cruising speeds due to a failed seal and replacement of the glass panel is required. (2007)

Recall History

2007 S-Class with Active Body Control (ABC)
Description: ABC sensors on either of the front struts may not transmit body movement data because of inconsistent soldering points. This could result in unexpected body movements at the front axle, which can adversely influence the vehicle’s directional stability and could lead to a vehicle crash.
2007 S-Class
Description: The radial knuckle of the front strut may fail, possibly affecting steering control. The flaw may occur after significant mileage accumulation combined with exposure to high continuous stress by driving on rough roads.
2007-08 S-Class
Description: An incorrect software calibration number (SCN) coding received during a recent workshop visit can affect a number of functions: (1) the fuel gauge readings may be incorrect; (2) a stuck fuel-level sensor may not be displayed in the instrument cluster; (3) the check engine light may illuminate incorrectly; and, (4) the speedometer may be out of tolerance. In the event of a vehicle crash, the electrical fuel pump may not receive a crash signal that is required for the fuel pump to disconnect and prevent future fuel delivery as designed.
2008 S-Class
Description: Transistors in signal acquisition and actuation module (front) may have been exposed to excess moisture and could fail to function properly, increasing risk of crash.
2009 S-Class
Description: The front and rear passenger side door locks may have been mistakenly interchanged during production.
2011 S-Class diesel
Description: Diesel fuel filter may leak from around the heating component onto the road surface.
2011-2012 S400, S550, S63 AMG
Description: Fuel-filter flange may crack under high temperatures, resulting in a leak and possibly a fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.