Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), also known as "sticker" price, is a recommended selling price that automakers give a new car that is above the invoice price paid by the dealer. It is a price that does not include any options that can be added to a particular car style. When shown as a range, the prices are starting MSRPs, without options, for multiple styles for that model.
This price range reflects the Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail value for all trim levels, but not necessarily all available options.
The Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail value represents the amount an auto dealer might ask for a specific vehicle; the actual sale price will vary. A vehicle's popularity, condition, warranty, color and local market conditions are factors involved in determining a final price. The retail value is not a trade-in or private party value.
The Suggested Retail value assumes that the vehicle has been fully reconditioned and has a clean title history. The Suggested Retail value also allows for advertising, sales commissions, insurance and other costs of doing business as a dealer. Most vehicles offered at this price have passed an inspection, and some may carry a warranty. Vehicle mileage is assumed to be normal or below normal.
Best Bets get above-average mpg, class-average or better reliability, class-average or better crash-test ratings, and our recommendation.
Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
September 26, 2003
Vehicle Overview Like its two-door CL-Class coupe sibling, the ultra-luxury Mercedes-Benz S-Class rear-wheel-drive sedan gained two potent new engines for 2003. A supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 generates 493 horsepower in the S55 AMG. The twin-turbo V-12 in the S600 produces the same output. An available Pre-Safe system can recognize an impending impact before it occurs so that it can adjust the seats to the safest position and activate seat belt pretensioners.
Four versions of Mercedes-Benzs largest, most costly sedan are available. The S430 has a 4.3-liter V-8 engine; the S500 holds a 5.0-liter V-8; and the S600 carries a 5.5-liter V-12. Performance-oriented buyers may choose the S55 AMG, which features a supercharged 493-hp V-8, a sport suspension, larger tires and aerodynamic body trim.
A new seven-speed-automatic transmission that replaces the previous five-speed unit goes into S430 and S500 sedans for 2004. A DVD-based navigation system and MP3 play capability become standard. During 2003, new 4Matic all-wheel-drive versions of the S430 and S500 went on sale.
Mercedes-Benz describes the S-Class as a sedan with a coupelike profile that is highlighted by a low nose and taller tail. A laid-back grille and smooth underbody improve airflow, which keeps the sedans coefficient of drag at a low 0.27.
With its sport suspension, racy aerodynamic body trim and 18-inch tires on Monoblock alloy wheels, the S55 AMG is ready for high-speed travel. Both the ultimate-luxury S600 and the S55 AMG have Active Body Control that continuously adjusts suspension firmness to eliminate body roll during cornering, acceleration and braking.
Fitted with a three-place rear bench, the S-Class seats five people. A split rear bench with power adjustments is optional. The front seats have 14-way power adjustments and head restraints that can serve as pillows. Full leather upholstery and a Bose audio system are standard.
Befitting its price, the S600 gets four heated power seats and a higher level of wood and leather trim. Radar-based Distronic Adaptive Cruise Control is optional.
Under the Hood
Mercedes-Benz offers three V-8 engines and a V-12. The S430 holds a 275-hp, 4.3-liter V-8, while the S500 gets a 302-hp, 5.0-liter V-8. The high-performance S55 AMG uses a 493-hp, supercharged 5.5-liter V-8. The S600 sedan carries a turbocharged 5.5-liter V-12 that delivers 493 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque. A new seven-speed-automatic transmission goes into rear-wheel-drive S430 and S500 sedans, while the S55 AMG, S600, and 4Matic-equipped S430 and S500 sedans use a five-speed automatic.
Side-impact airbags are installed in each door. Side curtain-type airbags in the front and rear deploy from the roofline to protect occupants heads. An Electronic Stability Program combines traction control with lateral-skid control technology.
Loaded with technology, the S-Class is a smooth and supremely capable cruiser that may initially be marred by a slight sense of detachment; but that sensation soon eases. Despite its bounty of alluring attributes, the steering seems just a little too light.
Even in the S500, performance approaches the level of stunning, and automatic-transmission response qualifies as masterful. Even though the ride is smooth, the S500 hits a few bumps rather hard. In fast curves, the big sedan stays remarkably upright.