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Expert Reviews 2 of 3
By Anita And Paul Lienert
The Detroit News
September 20, 1995
It was almost as agonizing a decision as picking out the bridesmaids' dresses. What test car would we borrow for the weighty responsibility of getting the bride to the church for her marriage to Paul's brother? The $91,000 1995 Mercedes-Benz S500 got
the nod. But the prestigious German sedan still had some pretty stiff competition - from a horse named Dean and a white buggy. He: We went into the wedding knowing the rear-wheel-drive S500 was big, comfortable and expensive - and more personal than
a rented limousine. But I was still nervous about getting a jittery bride with her hoop skirt and 15 feet of cathedral-length train into the back seat of the Mercedes. Thank God the standard equipment even included power rear seat backs, so she could get
settled in with all her regalia and relax. I think there was even enough headroom for her crown. She: It seemed a fitting vehicle for all that pomp and circumstance. It's so quiet and massive it does feel like a rolling law library or bank vault.
There's nothing light-hearted or fun about this car. Let me put it another way - you refused to let me deface it with Kleenex pom-pons, tin cans or a "Just Married" sign. Although to tell you the truth, it felt as if something was missing without the
pom-pons. They've always been a symbol of true wedding class in my family, especially when they match the bridesmaids' dresses. It's kind of like the Three-Meat Rule. He: You've really gone around the bend this time, toots. Do they give a hoot in
Stuttgart about the Three-Meat Rule? She: I'm talking about the fact that it's not a classy wedding unless you serve three kinds of meat at the reception. Not to worry - mostaccioli counts as a meat. But you interrupted me before I made my point. The
S-class is one Queen Mother of a car, even though Mercedes-Benz went to a certain amount of trouble to whittle down the massive bumpers and trim the edges for the 1995 version. And you're right about tons of rear seat space. Almost 40 inches of legroom
alone in the back seat! The price is massive, too. He: Yes, but there are very few luxury sedans that will coddle you as much as the S500. I suppose you're right about the Mercedes not being that much fun to look at or to drive. But, then, think of
the typical S-class owner. If you're looking for a truly large car that's fun to drive, you'd probably be better off in a BMW 750iL or a long-wheelbase Jaguar. She: I don't think the words "fun" and "Mercedes" belong in the same sentence. He:
Don't be cruel. The bride had a blast getting to church. With that long wheelbase, the S500 handles surprisingly well for a vehicle that weighs nearly as much as good-size Chris-Craft. And despite the car's nearly two-and-half tons, this baby really moves
when you stomp on the throttle. That's because the 5.0-liter V-8 gives you 315 horses under the hood - no buggy either. She: That engine and the four-speed automatic click nicely together - like a
pair of happy newlyweds. He: I think I'm going to be sick. No more wedding metaphors, please. Did we talk about how thirsty this car is? We managed to squeeze just over 16 miles a gallon with lots of highway driving. I suppose if you have enough
money to buy an S500 and pay the $1,700 gas-guzzler tax, a buck-and-a-quarter a gallon probably isn't going to break you. She: The Mercedes engineers obviously did a lot of scenario planning. Car trouble would be the ultimate lame excuse for not
getting the bride to the church on time in the S500. Just about every driving contingency is covered. You've got standard anti-lock brakes, traction control and dual air bags. The windshield washing system is heated and so are the outside mirrors and the
front and rear seats. Luckily, it was 95 degrees that day, so we didn't have to use any of that. But we were grateful for the automatic climate control and the optional glass sunroof, which allowed the bride to check her make-up one last t
in natural light. He: Hey, the S500 was upstaged a bit by the surprise horse-and-buggy ride my brother arranged for his bride after the ceremony. She: I don't think so. And the bride is a true diplomat. When I asked her which ride she preferred,
she said the loved them both. "They both served a purpose," she said. "The horse and buggy was small-town romance. And the Mercedes made me feel royal and important. And I didn't feel one bump on the way to church." He: Maybe a ride in a Mercedes is
the best way to begin married life. She: If we had started out in a Mercedes, maybe our column would be a bit more mellow. Thanks a lot, Oldsmobile. Anita's rating: (above average) Paul's rating: (world class) What we liked: Big back
seat can handle even hoop skirts; get ready to be spoiled by standard items; quiet, solid ride; powerful engine. What we didn't like: Mediocre fuel economy; high price - you can either buy the S500 or a house. 1995 Mercedes-Benz S500 Type:
Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, five-passenger luxury sedan. Price: Base, $87,500; as tested, $91,152 (inc. $595 destination charge and $1,700 gas guzzler tax). What's new for '95: Improved fuel efficiency, modest styling changes, additional
standard equipment. Standard equipment: Halogen headlamps and fog lamps with washer/wipers, heated windshield washing system, heated rear window and outside mirrors, alloy wheels, rear level control, cruise control, heated front and rear seats, power
locks, anti-theft system, power door and trunk closing assist, power windows with express up and down, power sunroof, power tilt/telescope steering column, power 12-way front seats and mirrors with memory, power rear seat back, leather upholstery,
automatic climate control with charcoal filter, Bose audio system with FM-FM-WB stereo and cassette. Safety features: Dual air bags, antilock brakes, traction control, child-proof rear door locks, side-door impact beams. Options on test vehicle:
6-CD changer ($860), deluxe floor mats ($102), glass sunroof ($395). EPA fuel economy: 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway. Engine: 5.0-liter V-8; 315-hp at 5600 rpm; 347 lb-ft torque at 3900 rpm. Transmission: Four-speed automatic. Competitors:
BMW 750iL. Specifications: Wheelbase, 123.6 inches; overall length, 205.2 inches; curb weight, 4760 pounds; legroom, 41.3 inches front/39.6 inches rear; headroom, 38.0 inches front/38.5 inches rear; shoulder room, 61.7 inches front/61.4 inches rear.
12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan*: $2,527 Where built: Sindelfingen, Germany. *Rates based on an average family of four from the Livonia area whose primary driver is aged 40 with no tickets who drives 3-10 miles each way to
work. Rates reflect multicar discount and, where appropriate, discounts for air bags and seat belts.
Expert Reviews 2 of 3
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