Remarkably practical all-around sedan
September 28, 2017
The main criteria I have for a car are whether the car will last for a long time, and what sort of maintenance is necessary. Will it always be in the shop or on the road?
This car is pretty much the same from 2003 through 2006, and mostly the same from 2000 through 2006. Front- and rear-seat room is almost cavernous. Men of 1.9 metres have more than enough room in either front seat. If that same man should then hop into the rear seat--making no changes to his front seat settings--he will be very comfortable in the back seat as well. The car wraps you in comfort.
The AIRmatic-suspension versions of the cars are recommended. They are exceedingly comfortable. You don't get tired after 10+ hours of driving one of these. You do feel the potholes, but they don't jar you as much as with most other cars.
Fuel economy, given that this is a full-sized car, is remarkably good. With standard tires, I get 17 miles/gallon (US gallons) in straight town driving, 26 to 28 mpg straight highway, and 19 to 20 mpg combined (majority town).
This is the first model of Mercedes-Benz that is actually easy to repair--surprisingly so, given that they're luxury German cars. Parts are available, and it's pretty friendly to "DIY-ers". The main exception on 2WD S430's and S500's is the 7-speed transmission. That can be a bit of a pain to fix (read: higher labour charges) vs. the 5-speed. The 5-speed is also a bit stronger.
The ABC (hydraulic suspension) versions of the car, those can get *very* expensive to repair. Unless you know what you're getting into, stay with an AIRmatic car.
Like with any car, you need to stay on top of the maintenance. It's really not that bad, rather, a lot of people don't do it. Change the engine oil and filter every 5,000 to 6,000 miles, the transmission fluid and filter every 40,000 to 50,000, brake fluid every 24,000, and antifreeze/coolant at the specified intervals, power steering fluid every 50,000 miles (do it with the transmission service) and your S-class will last hundreds of thousands of miles. Since I do this, I just get in my car and drive.