ABS and front side air bags standard. ESC, rear side and head protection air bags standard from 2000.
Redesigned for 2000, Mercedes' flagship S-Class is shorter, significantly lighter, and more aerodynamic than its predecessor. It's still a large car, though. It's also a large investment at nearly $70,000 to start. But the price brings a bevy of high-tech features that include a navigation system, traction and stability control, and side-impact and head-level air bags. Two smooth V8s are available. Each is mated to an electronic 5-speed automatic transmission that allows manual shifts. The ride is smooth and serene even on rough roads, while nimble handling belies this two-ton sedan's size and weight. We also found the ventilated leather seats plush yet supportive, the cabin impressively quiet, and rear seat room worthy of royalty.