Your Den, On Wheels

The S-Class' cabin mixes classic luxury cues with modern technology features. It also includes the kind of details you'd expect in this segment, like a leather instrument panel cover and classy chrome power window buttons. Beautiful burl walnut wood graces the dash, doors and center console, the latter of which incorporates one of the S-Class' techno gizmos: the Comand controller.

A large silver dial, the controller can be rotated and nudged in various directions to navigate menus on a large screen in the middle of the dash. Think of it as a universal remote control for your car's various features, but with a large joystick and a few buttons. Mercedes isn't the only luxury automaker with this kind of system — Audi has its Multi Media Interface and BMW introduced the world to the concept with iDrive — but Comand is one of the more user-friendly versions.

Its primary advantage is the intuitive arrangement of menus on the screen that will have even new users comfortable with its operation in a matter of minutes. Whereas iDrive has you wishing for some regular buttons to control the vehicle's settings, Comand shows you the value this kind of thing can have when done right.

A few days into my test drive, though, the system's cursor began intermittently jumping between menus on its own, which made it difficult to control. With a little less than 3,000 miles on the odometer, this issue would hopefully be under warranty, but it makes you question how well a high-tech system like Comand will hold up long-term.

The S-Class is also available with some of the most advanced front seats ever. The optional Drive-Dynamic multicontour seats have numerous adjustments, thanks in part to air chambers in the seats. They also include a massage mode and can inflate the side bolsters when cornering to help keep you in place. Some of the settings can be adjusted using the Comand system, but the more traditional controls, like cushion position, are in easy reach on the door panel. Fancy adjustments wouldn't mean much if the seats weren't comfortable, but they are, in a large, soft, leather easy-chair type of way.

Maybe you're more interested in being driven than in driving. If that's the case, the S-Class has you covered with its massive backseat. It offers tons of legroom and a backrest that's angled backward for optimal comfort. Power-adjustable rear seats are optional.

What makes the S-Class a bit different from most of its competitors is that this expansive backseat is standard; unlike the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS 460, you don't have to buy a long-wheelbase model to get it. Even though there are seat belts for three, it's clear the backseat is designed for two, as there is a large hump in the middle of the floor, and the middle seat's cushioning is hard compared to the outer seats'.

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