The 2004 Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedans still set a standard for performance and luxury. This combination of excellence and opulence is rarely matched in this segment. The only things preventing the S-Class from being flawless are a lack of the athleticism offered by some rivals and a few quibbles about interior features. It’s hard to go wrong with class-leading luxury and stand-out performance. The S-Class vehicles are great for discerning luxury sedan buyers.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 4.3-liter V-8, 5.0-liter V-8, 5.4-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-12
Transmissions: seven-speed automatic, five-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz S430, Mercedes-Benz S430 4Matic, Mercedes-Benz S500, Mercedes-Benz S500 4Matic, Mercedes-Benz S600, Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG
For 2004, an industry-first seven-speed automatic transmission is now standard for S-Class vehicles. The navigation system is now DVD-based, and the Keyless Go system is now built into the SmartKey. Eighteen-inch wheels boasting a new style are optional.
The 2004 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Luxury sedans come in several trims: S430, S500, S600, S55 AMG, and the S430/S500 trims can had with the 4Matic feature. The S430 and S500 start off with 17-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, power rear sunshade, and a sunroof. The 4Matic versions of the S430 and S500 are the same save for all-wheel drive. The S600 has 18-inch wheels as does the S55 AMG along with some extra performance gear. Each step up in trim level upgrades engine power. For a luxury sedan, the S-Class has a racy and sleek body to go along with a highly stylized look. The coefficient of drag is a low 0.27 giving an aerodynamic appearance as well as better fuel economy and performance. The exterior will attract attention and has a nice look to it that is both form and function, like the car itself.
The cabin is as feature-filled and opulent as one would expect given the price. Every gadget and toy can be found on one trim level or another and the interior is spacious, luxurious, comfortable, ergonomic and serene. Aside from the COMAND system and a few low-grade materials that don’t belong, the cabin is outstanding.
Performance & Handling
The 2004 Mercedes-Benz S-Class makes use of three V-8 engines and a V-12, depending on model chosen. The S430 uses a 275 horsepower, 4.3-liter V-8 producing 295 lb-ft of torque, while the S500 gets a 302 horsepower, five-liter V-8 making 339 lb-ft of torque. The high-performance S55 AMG uses a 493 horsepower, supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 that kicks out. The S600 sedan carries a turbocharged, 5.5-liter V-12 that delivers 493 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. A new seven-speed-automatic transmission delivers power to the rear drive of the S430 and S500 sedans, while the S55 AMG, S600, and 4Matic-equipped S430 and S500 sedans all have a five-speed automatic. The performance is astounding, even in the base model S500. The transmission is extraordinary with perfectly timed shifts. The S-Class offers great performance fun to go along with the luxury.
The handling is quite solid, although the ride and steering can leave a driver feeling detached from the road. Those who like to cruise will appreciate this sensation while enthusiasts will bemoan a lack of the necessary road fell for driving pleasure. There isn’t much body roll, and the grip is assured, but these cars lack the athleticism that can be so prominent in rivals from this segment. The ride is as comfortable and luxurious as it gets but the occasional bump can be felt, perhaps a result of trying to give the S-Class cars something in the way of a performance suspension.
Standard safety equipment for the 2004 Mercedes S-Class vehicles includes side-impact airbags installed in each door, side curtain-type airbags in the front and rear that deploy from the roofline to protect occupants’ heads, an Electronic Stability Program combines traction control with lateral-skid control technology, antilock brake system with emergency braking assist, pre-collision safety system, and tire pressure monitoring. The S-Class cars haven’t been tested by the NHTSA. The only IIHS test performed on the S-Class cars is the rear crash protection/head restraint safety test that earned a top rating of ""good."" The S-Class cars offer quite a bit of safety gear and should be considered protective of occupants.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz S430: 16/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S430 4Matic: 15/21 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S500: 14/22 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S500 4Matic: 14/20 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S600: 11/17 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG: 13/19 mpg city/highway
- Interior appointments
- Cabin space
- Nimble for its size
- Safety features
- Resale value
You Won't Like
- COMAND system
- Lacks the athleticism of some rivals
- Some interior materials don’t belong in this class
Still THE no-compromise sedan.
If You Like This Vehicle
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