Stately Design

Redesigned for 2007, the S-Class has always been a handsome, if conservative, car. For 2010, a few visual updates give it a more assertive presence, which is a welcome change. The bumpers get a more aggressive front air dam that's flanked by horizontal LED daytime running lights on all but the base S400. The grille is more angular, and it keeps Mercedes' trademark three-pointed hood ornament. The rear bumper has wider tailpipes integrated into it, and the rear loses the earlier color-striped taillights for a more uniform red. This is how it should have been all along; side-by-side with the '10, the '09 taillights look a bit dorky.

Top-tier luxury sedans from BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Audi offer regular and extended wheelbases. For American buyers, the S-Class comes in just one wheelbase, and it's long. Sedans like these are as long as most minivans, and with an overall length of 206.5 inches, the S-Class is among the group's largest. Its 40-foot turning circle falls on the tighter side of the class, believe it or not, but that's still well into SUV territory. City drivers, you've been warned.

Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard. A Sport package on the S400 and S550 adds larger wheels, as well as the requisite deeper bumpers and side skirts. The S600 has unique bumpers and 18-, 19- or 20-inch wheels. The S63 and S65 AMG have even more aggressive bodywork, along with 20-inch wheels and quad tailpipes.

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