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CAR OF THE MONTH January 2012

2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 HYBRID Sedan Review

The Hybrid Goes High-End

A three-quarter front view of a 2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 HYBRID Sedan

In short: An environmentally-conscious large luxury sedan.

What we like most about the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid is that unlike all other hybrid versions of its base car, it's cheaper, and unlike other luxury hybrids, it actually saves gas instead of merely delivering more power for the same gasoline expenditure. This is taking the hybrid concept in the right direction — right? Less expensive to purchase, less expensive to operate and somewhat conscious of the environment. This would certainly contribute to pride of ownership — especially for limousine fleet owners. You get to keep the luxury, the prestige and the comfort, and you spend less. Point made.

An interior view of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

The mild-hybrid engine of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

The Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid has the same dynamic looks as its regular gasoline sibling but has dropped the hungry V8 for a more sober V6. You will lose in performance what you seldom need in the first place. We did, however, experience gaps in power both on the freeway and in city traffic in our Lunar Blue tester that surprised us, and the feel of the brakes took a little bit of getting used to.

There is room aplenty inside and we appreciated the solid feel and the smoothness of the ride without discounting safety systems. Savanna premium leather and burl walnut wood trim lend to a luxurious atmosphere, while the LOGIC7 Surround Sound with Dolby Digital 5.1 and HD digital radio helped to provide the perfect soundtrack while we drove about town. Our tester's Premium Package also greatly contributed to our contentment, with advanced features like massaging front seats, adaptive cruise control and a rear view camera keeping us comfortable and at ease on the road.

For an environmentally-friendly top-end luxury sedan — not touching on the hydrogen topic — you can't do much better.

A three-quarter rear view of a 2012 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

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Warranty/Service: New Vehicle Limited Warranty, covering defects in material or workmanship for 48-months or 50,000 miles, Service and Repair for 10,000 miles or 100,000 miles, and Premier Pre-Paid Maintenance

Base Price: $91,850 / As tested: $106,615

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front engine, rear-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hybrid sedan

Engine: 3.5 liter, 24-valve aluminum V-6 mild-hybrid engine
Horsepower: 295 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 284 lb-ft @ 2,400-5,000 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Curb weight:
4,594 lbs
Wheelbase: 124.6 in
Length/Width/Height: 206.5/83.5/58 in
Turning circle: 40 ft.

dual-circuit power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes
Suspension: 4-link independent front suspension with anti lift control and stabilizer; multilink independent rear suspension with antisquat and antidive; AIRMATIC air suspension and adaptive damping system

Traction: electronic stability program with all-speed traction control; all-season tires

0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph (electronically limited)

EPA City:
19 mpg
EPA Highway: 25 mpg

adaptive dual-stage front airbags; front and rear side airbags; PRE-SAFE predictive protection system

Likes: overall concept, value, luxury
Dislikes: braking, gaps in power, small exterior rear view mirrors

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Photography: AlphaMedia

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