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A little help for a potential W221 buyer. 2011-2013 years.

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S-Class (W221) 2007-2013: S 320 CDI, S 350, S 450, S 500, S 550, S 420 CDI, S 600

A little help for a potential W221 buyer. 2011-2013 years.

 
Old 05-18-2014, 11:19 AM
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A little help for a potential W221 buyer. 2011-2013 years.

First off. I cut a ton of fat off my post. Forgive me if it is not perfect. It just seemed like a wall of text.

I have owned Mercedes in the past, but only short term. Looking to maybe own one again if I could get some help/information.

It is between the S550/600, A8l/W12, and 750il/760. All 2011 or newer (maybe 2010 for Merc/BMW. But not Audi as I wanted their new body/interior style). Probably well under $50K, as if I go higher I might buy a Tesla or a Bentley I have been eyeing at $65K.

I am not bias in the least bit towards any brands/countries cars. I love cars, usually of specific years, not the brands. I am also very well inclined with mechanical terms and cars in general. I have personally owned more Audi's than any other car, with that all said.

I have seen other threads on here similar, but not exactly what I am looking for. So these are what I personally consider worthwhile questions, and I appreciate anyone who reads this and anyone who takes time to reply, I really do.



First off. Of the 11-13 model years. Would I be losing out on getting an 11? It looks like the Nav screen changed around 2012. Any non-option standard changes that really make getting a 12/13 better than a 11 or maybe even a 9/10? Is there a list of changes year-by-year of the W221? Any Opinions/facts about the changes and what year is the oldest, but still worth getting? Most signs point towards a 12 as the best bet right now.

Prices range by thousands for almost identical W221. What mileage/features to price is a smart buy? A 2012 S550 with 62K miles for $36,999 CPO seems like a good deal. But it is option void. Basic as it gets. As well in a mediocre color combo. For $10k more I could get a 2012 S550 with 50K miles CPO and packed with features and a much nicer color scheme.

I have test driven the S600 and S550. I already have a W12 Audi A8l and barely utilize the W12 or the extra gas it eats up. So I decided a V8 is the car for me. Some people out there recommended the S400 or to look into other models besides the S550 (still S class, just not the S550). I even heard the S63 could be a good option. Any input on what model is the best to shoot for? I really just want it to be comfortable when accelerating, something a 12 cylinder does awesome at. Just without the insane gas eating the 12's like to do. At the same time I also don't want it to feel like I have a Yaris engine in the front. Which I heard could happen with an S400.

Also, about models. Mercedes seems to like to really hammer out as many models of each class as they can (good and bad things happen from that). With it in mind I already asked which model could be potentially best for me. But what really makes them have so many identification numbers? Engine size/type and tuning? Or is it deeper than that? Is the S300 a super junker S600? Or are they almost identical with just the change of motor?


I do all of my own car work. Any special wires or software needed like the Audi required a VAGCOM to do rear brakes? I probably won't do as much of my own work with the W221. But I prefer it over paying more at a dealer/shop for unknown quality results. Are these interesting to fix?



Thanks for taking your time to read. Even more thanks if you reply. I cannot think of any more questions, but if you think there is mandatory "must know" info about the W221, please let me know. Or if you truthfully think (even with the limited knowledge of me, and my needs/wants) that I would be better with the Audi/BMW, or why you think the Merc is the best way to go. I would love to hear that as well.

Again, Thanks.

Last edited by StellarEngines; 05-18-2014 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 05-18-2014, 06:39 PM
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Yikes. I'll take a stab at the stuff I'm familiar with. 2012 over 2011 '12 gets you the twin turbo V8 in the S550. Should be plenty of grunt for you. The whole S Class line had a facelift and upgrades for 2010 up. 2010 and 2011 are identical.

2010 Facelift included: Massage seats, rear camera and Parktronic became standard. New front and rear fascias with LED fog, head and tail lamps. 3 color interior ambient lighting, upgraded navi, IPod connection and 12v power supply in glove box, metal "sport" pedals and paddle shifters.

I personally steer clear of the AMG cars...S63 and S65 due to cost as well as maintenance cost, and I like the cruising vibe of the S550. The S400 is a mild hybrid, a 3.5 V6 with an electric motor for added boost and better mileage. The S350 has an intercooled turbocharged diesel. The 400 and 350 aren't as common. The S600 gets a V12, but in a more subtle, gentlemanly package. The standard S600 interior has upgraded hand stitched leather, different wood trim, alacantra headliner, etc.

Understand that with an S Class, every option is usually available thru the entire line (except for the AMG cars), so you may find an S550 that was built with the S600 level interior option. "Designo" is an interior upgrade package with a wider assortment of colors and materials for the leather, interior decor, etc.

S550's can be had with an "AMG Sport" package that gives the car more aggressive bodywork and 19" wheels. AMG Sport Plus swaps in staggered 20" wheels for the 19".

If you're an audio buff, you're not going to like the stock Harman Kardon audio system. However, if you can find a car with the Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade (Look at the speaker grilles on the front doors. B&O are silver metallic, H&K are flat black.)

CPO is always my first choice for warranty protection. It adds a couple grand to the price and gets you 12 months and unlimited miles of excellent coverage. You can (and should) buy the full extended CPO, which gets you a total of 36 months and unlimited miles and is $4500.

Common options: Distronic adaptive cruise control with blind spot monitors, Nightview assist.

So, to sum up:

2012 CPO S550, twin turbo V8, AMG Sport Plus package. B&O audio upgrade. Good luck!

Last edited by Mike5215; 05-21-2014 at 09:47 AM. Reason: Corrected engine config for S400. Corrected engine config for S600
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Old 05-19-2014, 03:01 AM
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Thank you Mike5215. I appreciate all your help.

Maybe the pictures I have seen are deceiving but the Nav screen just seemed smaller in the 11 to the 12.

Sadly, with these being more expensive, they are harder to come by. Locally (75 mile radius) I have only about 30 options of the W221/D4/F02 options for the year/price/milage I am seeking.
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike5215 View Post
Yikes. I'll take a stab at the stuff I'm familiar with. 2012 over 2011 '12 gets you the twin turbo V8 in the S550. Should be plenty of grunt for you. The whole S Class line had a facelift and upgrades for 2010 up. 2010 and 2011 are identical.

2010 Facelift included: Massage seats, rear camera and Parktronic became standard. New front and rear fascias with LED fog, head and tail lamps. 3 color interior ambient lighting, upgraded navi, IPod connection and 12v power supply in glove box, metal "sport" pedals and paddle shifters.

I personally steer clear of the AMG cars...S63 and S65 due to cost as well as maintenance cost, and I like the cruising vibe of the S550. The S400 is a mild hybrid, a smaller V8 with an electric motor for added boost and better mileage. The S300 has an intercooled turbocharged diesel. The 400 and 300 aren't as common. The S600 gets the same V12 as the AMG S65, but in a more subtle, gentlemanly package. The standard S600 interior has upgraded hand stitched leather, different wood trim, alacantra headliner, etc.

Understand that with an S Class, every option is usually available thru the entire line (except for the AMG cars), so you may find an S550 that was built with the S600 level interior option. "Designo" is an interior upgrade package with a wider assortment of colors and materials for the leather, interior decor, etc.

S550's can be had with an "AMG Sport" package that gives the car more aggressive bodywork and 19" wheels. AMG Sport Plus swaps in staggered 20" wheels for the 19".

If you're an audio buff, you're not going to like the stock Harman Kardon audio system. However, if you can find a car with the Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade (Look at the speaker grilles on the front doors. B&O are silver metallic, H&K are flat black.)

CPO is always my first choice for warranty protection. It adds a couple grand to the price and gets you 12 months and unlimited miles of excellent coverage. You can (and should) buy the full extended CPO, which gets you a total of 36 months and unlimited miles and is $4500.

Common options: Distronic adaptive cruise control with blind spot monitors, Nightview assist.

So, to sum up:

2012 CPO S550, twin turbo V8, AMG Sport Plus package. B&O audio upgrade. Good luck!
S400 is a small V8?

LOL. Not in the US.

Try again.
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Old 05-19-2014, 11:06 AM
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Had an '05 Goat. Great car for the money. I still have a bunch of Angry Goat t-shirts in my garage somewhere if you're interested

Attached Thumbnails A little help for a potential W221 buyer. 2011-2013 years.-angrygoat.jpg  

Last edited by Mike5215; 05-19-2014 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 05-19-2014, 12:03 PM
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I should have updated my signature..

Sold my 06 last year.
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Old 05-21-2014, 02:44 AM
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I was in the same position as you recently and opted for the S600. The S600 has every option as standard, with the exception of Designo interior. They have the reclining/massaging/heated/cooled rear seats, "premium leather" which looks very nice and seems to hold up very well. Almost every inch in the S600 is covered in leather with nice stitching.

With that said, you could probably find an S550 that was made with the P3 package and get most of the options the S600 has.

From what you mentioned in your post, I think I would recommend an S550 to you as they are certainly not a slouch and are wonderful vehicles. The S600 maintenance would likely be expensive long term as it has 24 spark plugs, etc.

As far as Mercedes' naming nomenclature, it has been changed in recent years. Previous years the three digit number notated the displacement in liters with a "0" tacked on the end. For whatever reason they have steered away from that and now the number represents how the vehicle "fits in" with the product line and cost.

The S600 is actually a 5.5L V12 biturbo and the S65 is a 6.0L biturbo.

I would continue your search and get the options that you want. I am sure you can find the right car for you. I would have been rather frustrated if I purchased one of the first S550s that I test drove overnight as it did not have the dynamic drive seats, and was missing several other things.

FWIW I get about 22-23mpg on the highway driving very conservatively with the V12 S600.
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Old 05-21-2014, 02:49 AM
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Also worth mentioning is the ABC suspension. It is second to none IMO for ride quality and handling for such a large car. It is hydraulic instead if pneumatic which is what the other cars get standard (Airmatic). ABC is standard on the S600 and I believe all AMG S class vehicles.

You could probably locate an S550 with ABC unless it is a 4matic as it is not available in the 4matic cars.
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Old 05-22-2014, 02:19 PM
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Bear is correct, you can find 550 with good options. I have 07 AMG package with drive dynamic front seats, pano roof and rear seating package. the only thing 600 would have on top of that is the laser cruise/night vision.
If gas mileage is not that much of an issue i would go for 600. although the 550 has power, the adaptive trans goes in to granny mode when you take it easy and don’t drive crazy and when you need a tad more acceleration its not there because trans is not shifting down. With 600 the engine power would compensate for the lack of downshifting to lower gear when you need to get up and go all of the sudden.
2012 550 as mentioned has a turbo engine and allot more torque then N/A engine. So it might not be as bad as what i have.

The ABC on the 600 is also a great thing as 550 airmatic is a bit boaty around corners. Then again its a land yacht not a Porsche.
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Old 05-24-2014, 02:42 PM
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Thank you all for the replies.

I have narrowed it down a good bit and have a better understanding of the w221, which will really help with my purchase.

It is between a 2012 550 and a 2012 Audi A8L currently. I have test driven plenty and looked into even more (Lexus, Acura, Cadillac, Land Rover). But the 550 and A8L really stick out. So much fun to drive, great space and nothing but good things coming from owners. The BMW 7 was a massive letdown, not only driving, but reliability issues. Such a shame, as my fiancee really wanted the 750iL.
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Old 05-24-2014, 04:57 PM
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We own two current model Audis, an A5 Premium Plus Coupe and a Q7 Premium Plus SUV. IMO Audi isn't there yet vs the S550. Once the novelty wears off you realize you just paid Mercedes money for a very nice, stylish VW. I don't think you can go wrong with either car, but where the S550 is likely to continue to impress you, the A8 is going to have you out car shopping again in a couple of years. FYI, the S600 gets a gorgeous hand stitched premium leather interior where the S550 gets plastic, and an Alacantra headliner. Cabin feel on a 600 is quite a step up from an S550 regardless of what Premium package you add.

Last edited by Mike5215; 05-24-2014 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 05-24-2014, 10:15 PM
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Those are middle models though. That is the bias answers that get in the way of truthfully comparing the two best. Comparing Audi middle offerings to Mercedes highest model really is not fair. The A5 and Q7 are pretty bad examples of Audi. Could have got an A4 and Q5 pretty much. Just like the C class I owned in 2011 was a massive letdown.

My A8 W12 has lasted me so many miles. With zero problems. It just would not be intelligent to compare a middle car to the highest offering of the company.

The A8L has so many things over the S550, it is the biggest reason why I came here. Because the S class has a few things over the A8L. I would not want to downgrade or purchase a W221 and find out I will be selling it for an A8L in a few months. My 8 year old Audi is still holding up feature/performance wise compared to the offerings that Merc/Audi are offering in the past few years. Which really makes things tricky. I feel like my current upgrade choices are not really all that great.

Even after test driving the W221 and D4 I still cannot choose which I would rather drive for thousands of miles a month.
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Old 05-24-2014, 10:51 PM
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I don't think there's a wrong choice between the S550 and the A8, just a matter of what your personal priorities are. It sounds to me as if you're pretty attached to your current car and it still meets your needs. Maybe consider just buying a fresher version of that same car with less miles if the current one is getting up there. I had a eureka moment with my 06 S500 when it occurred to me that if I needed another car because I'd worn the current one out, but nothing out there came close for me new or used, it made perfect sense to just find another one with fewer miles. i did switch up colors though, because I'm a rebel.

Last edited by Mike5215; 05-25-2014 at 12:08 AM.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:33 PM
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I would still consider an S350 if I had it to do all over again. The power delivery is surprisingly symmetric for a turbocharged diesel. Im told that is due to the turbo being a VGTor variable geometry turbo.

Fuel economy was a big factor in my purchase. I've yet to meet a hybrid or all electric I really liked and many of today's "fuel efficient" cars have reduced weight by eliminating steel or nice options like power seats (Chevy Volt I'm talking to you). On a four hour drive on the freeway yesterday I averaged 37 MPG...not bad for a car that weighs as much as cruise ship. Of course the S400 Hybrid includes all the luxury you come to expect from Mercedes in a full size car but EPA MPG estimates are only 19 city and 25 highway.

There are a couple of downsides to a S350. The first is that in the US 4MATIC is standard and so ABC is not available. I test drove an S550 with ABC and I felt the ride was slightly better, especially off the freeway, than the Airmatic. I'm also worried about reliability of Airmatic since this forum is full of posts about malfunctions or all-out failures but on the other hand there are plenty of posts that say reliability is about the same on both.

The second would be that they are rare in the US. I bought the car in the Southern California after months of searching for one and when I brought it back to Northern California none of the SAs in my dealership had ever seen a Bluetec S Class. If something goes really wrong I will consider taking it to a higher volume dealership.
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Old 07-12-2014, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike5215 View Post
Yikes. I'll take a stab at the stuff I'm familiar with. 2012 over 2011 '12 gets you the twin turbo V8 in the S550. Should be plenty of grunt for you. The whole S Class line had a facelift and upgrades for 2010 up. 2010 and 2011 are identical.

2010 Facelift included: Massage seats, rear camera and Parktronic became standard. New front and rear fascias with LED fog, head and tail lamps. 3 color interior ambient lighting, upgraded navi, IPod connection and 12v power supply in glove box, metal "sport" pedals and paddle shifters.

I personally steer clear of the AMG cars...S63 and S65 due to cost as well as maintenance cost, and I like the cruising vibe of the S550. The S400 is a mild hybrid, a 3.5 V6 with an electric motor for added boost and better mileage. The S350 has an intercooled turbocharged diesel. The 400 and 350 aren't as common. The S600 gets a V12, but in a more subtle, gentlemanly package. The standard S600 interior has upgraded hand stitched leather, different wood trim, alacantra headliner, etc.

Understand that with an S Class, every option is usually available thru the entire line (except for the AMG cars), so you may find an S550 that was built with the S600 level interior option. "Designo" is an interior upgrade package with a wider assortment of colors and materials for the leather, interior decor, etc.

S550's can be had with an "AMG Sport" package that gives the car more aggressive bodywork and 19" wheels. AMG Sport Plus swaps in staggered 20" wheels for the 19".

If you're an audio buff, you're not going to like the stock Harman Kardon audio system. However, if you can find a car with the Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade (Look at the speaker grilles on the front doors. B&O are silver metallic, H&K are flat black.)

CPO is always my first choice for warranty protection. It adds a couple grand to the price and gets you 12 months and unlimited miles of excellent coverage. You can (and should) buy the full extended CPO, which gets you a total of 36 months and unlimited miles and is $4500.

Common options: Distronic adaptive cruise control with blind spot monitors, Nightview assist.

So, to sum up:

2012 CPO S550, twin turbo V8, AMG Sport Plus package. B&O audio upgrade. Good luck!

Great write up Mike.
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Old 07-19-2014, 11:58 AM
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S350 BT 4MATIC
Wow this thread is helpful and caused me to lean back towards the middle on my consideration on trading my E-class in on a S550 or S350 BT. I am looking at 3 models:

1) S550 20kmiles, PANO Roof, just P2 - $59k
2) S550 45k miles with 266 Drivers assist, 867 Split V. 811 Bang and Olsen - 610 Night View Assist Plus $58K

3) S350 BT, 59k miles, with 266 Drivers assist, PANO roof, $53k

Kinda torn between the #2 and #3. I was leaning towards #3, but this thread has me considering the S550 more again. I also like lower, mileage cars, but when you go S-class you should get features! #2 has a lot of features.

I think the prices are high on all these cars and will definitely negotiate them down.

What advice do you all have for me?

Thanks
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:32 PM
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Given those three choices, #2 would be my pick also
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Old 07-20-2014, 03:16 AM
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That's a tough choice. I would say between 1 & 2 and honestly I probably would go with 1 due to the pano roof. I would take that over some options, plus the miles are really low. Hard decision, good luck!
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Old 07-20-2014, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Grizz1 View Post
Given those three choices, #2 would be my pick also
Thank you for your input! I am leaning that way, as this car will not be driven that much, probably less than 5k/year. #2 has a great deal of the bells and whistles. I think that car for $53k or less would be reasonable.

I do think the diesel is also a good buy too as it has everything #2 has except for the Night Vision, Splitview, and 19" wheels. It has a lot of miles but it is a diesel so the drive-train is probably fine.

Last edited by Nuru; 07-20-2014 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 07-20-2014, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by wilassasin View Post
That's a tough choice. I would say between 1 & 2 and honestly I probably would go with 1 due to the pano roof. I would take that over some options, plus the miles are really low. Hard decision, good luck!
Thanks for the input!

Yeah I originally was looking at #1, at the dealership where I bought my last two cars. Then the guy who sold me my last two cars (now working at another dealership) presented to me #2 and #3. I do like the features on #2 and #3, here are some of them

#2 S550V4
266 Driver Assistance Package: DISTRONIC
P20: Driving Assistance
233 : Distronic Plus
237 : Active Blind Spot Assist
238 : Active Lane Keeping Assist
48R 19" 5-Spoke Wheels
610 Night View Assist PLUS
811 Bang & Olufsen Sound System
867 SPLITVIEW


#3 S350BTC
040 Black
214 Cashmere/Savanna Leather
266 266 Driver Assistance Package: DISTRONIC
P20 : Driving Assistance
233 : Distronic Plus
237 : Active Blind Spot Assist
238 : Active Lane Keeping Assist
297 Rear Side-Window Blinds
413 Panorama Sunroof

#1 has the miles advantage but no extra features, all of the current ones I am considering arre P02 equipped.
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Old 08-09-2014, 07:17 PM
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Well just an update, I purchased a 2012 S350 similar in feature to #3, but it had a few more and no PANO, a lot less miles (only 24k), and was a little more ($6k).

Last edited by Nuru; 08-09-2014 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 08-10-2014, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post
Also worth mentioning is the ABC suspension. It is second to none IMO for ride quality and handling for such a large car. It is hydraulic instead if pneumatic which is what the other cars get standard (Airmatic). ABC is standard on the S600 and I believe all AMG S class vehicles.

You could probably locate an S550 with ABC unless it is a 4matic as it is not available in the 4matic cars.
Please, Polar. Don't steer anyone toward ABC. It's by far the most unreliable engineering ever placed on an MB, and is particularly problematic on the 221.

It consists of several high stress parts per wheel, including accumulators, controllers, struts, computers, high pressure lines and sensors. Overall on the car there are 2x hydraulic computers, 2 pumps, high pressure lines all over the car, a coolant section in the radiator, and a control module for the user interface.

I have never seen a 221 go more than a couple of years without serious, very expensive failures. To locate hydraulic leaks is often very time consuming, and may involve joints, abrasion leaks, seals and the like. The normal running temp is 300deg C, and can easily top 500c.

Perhaps you've seen a "rodeo", where the car dances on it's hydraulic suspension for hours in attempts to locate blown seals, over temp parts, pressure restrictions or just leaks. It's not hard to figure out where an ABC was parked by observing the puddles. And ABC *WILL* strand you on the side of the interstate on a regular basis.

I have never seen an ABC repair for less then $2k US. I've seen repair orders in excess of $15k for just ABC.

In-warranty cars are financially protected. But if you've got an ABC car, plan to be without it for lengthy periods while it's in the shop. And frequently. Get used to driving the C class loaners. MBUSA is tiring of CPO support for this *******ized system, and often will argue or refuse payment. They sometimes cite neglect or whatever is in vogue. Sometimes CPO will offer a compromise, maybe picking up parts or just labor. Sometimes they won't pay at all. Sometimes they'll pick it up in it's entirety without explanation. However with ABC, rest assured that this is a major expense for CPO insurance and their response to your claim could be anything they deem appropriate. This includes outright refusal.

So please don't mislead folks about ABC. The ride is NOT that much better, in fact it's actually a little stiffer. Hydraulic does offer a very fast response rate to potholes etc, but surprisingly not that much better than pneumatics.

Finally, 221s with ABC are almost impossible to resell. It's not that a KBB figure will be adjusted if the option shows up, instead it's simply nobody will purchase the car that has been around these cars and knows the ins-outs. The market then is extremely limited to just a few ignorant souls, unless it's a new car of course. About your only option to get out of an ABC car is a lease turn in, where the dealer is forced to give you the residual value of the car, or someone's stupidity. If you're trying to sell it outright, then more power to you as most buyers are wary and well versed on ABC. Dealers rarely if ever buy them from auction for resell, when they do it'll be the deal of the century - often 10's of thousands less from the auction house (or MB turn in).

ABC has been known to total-loss cars that are only 4-5 years old, having them hauled to the junkyard with all the associated law suits and grievances. So come on, let's be a little more alert and versed. The 221 is a marvelous piece of engineering that will serve you well for years. I know - I own 2 of them. As long as you know what you're buying

Last edited by geebee; 08-10-2014 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 08-10-2014, 09:38 PM
  #23  
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although ABC is more problematic i think you might be over blowing it a tad. if it was that bad, why would Benz have it in their cars to this day if its that much headache for them?
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Old 08-15-2014, 01:59 AM
  #24  
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Seems like over the years, ABC can be expensive to fix. It is a good system but, based on what one can see in the forums, it has shown to be problematic once the system has any issues with the hydraulic pump. I was kinda scared of the Airmatic system but I am a bit more fearful of the ABC based on the delta in the cost for repairs, and that it really seems to require repair work by the dealer in most cases. Maybe it is way past time for MBZ to go to an all electric ABC? As some other member on the forum posted, Boeing did on their airliners, so....etc.

Last edited by Nuru; 08-15-2014 at 02:07 AM.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:32 PM
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IMO ABC has gotten alot better but it's still has it share of problems. My 02 CL500 always had ABC problems until the day I sold it. While my 07 has been little better. Regardless your still going to have problems eventually so be prepare to spend at least 1k.
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Quick Reply: A little help for a potential W221 buyer. 2011-2013 years.


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