Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been a staple of luxury saloons ever since it debuted in 1954 until Toyota came up with the Lexus brand and its first car, the LS 400 in 1989 and it changed the entire luxury market forever. Up until then, the Americans had options from Cadillac or the German manufacturers BMW and Mercedes to choose a good luxurious sedan from which were pretty costly. But since Toyota made the LS in Japan and their currency of Yen was falling against the USD every year, they could sell the car at a better price than either the beemer or the merc for far lower prices.
Since then, these two have been in an everlasting tug-of-war for the top spot in the luxury division. Being known for the go-to cars of executives and managers that find themselves at the top half of the hierarchy, both these cars personify the words ‘purposeful’, and ‘understated’ when spotted on the streets. While there are more options available now than ever to choose from the Audi A7, A8, BMW 2 Series, Genesis G90, and Cadillac CT6, but the S-Class and the LS are the two flagship models in the whole category so these cars are what we are focusing on right now. Let’s dig down on how they pit against each other.
Both Cars Offer Loads Of Comfort
These cars are made for the people who will not mind if it takes an extra second or two to accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour than 2-door sports cars that don’t have enough legroom even for their children. Besides, it is more likely that the buyers will end up in the back seat enjoying the many luxuries that the cars have to offer. Both the S-Class and the LS offer back seats that heat, cool, massage, and recline with button-operated lumbar support. Ambient lighting, rear entertainment screens, double glazed windows(although Mercedes has used the double glazed windows long before Lexus was even created), a wide selection of air perfume mixtures, you name it, these cars have it.
When it debuted, the LS was built with the sole purpose of beating the S-Class in its own game while costing significantly lower than it. Back in 1997, the LS was smaller than the S-Class from the outside, and yet it had more legroom than the German saloon, but these days it’s almost identical for both offerings. And while Lexus does have electronically adjustable air suspension, premium leather seats, and 3D surround audio system from Mark Levenson, it still falls short of the Mercedes and its tanky build.
As a true symbol of success for Mercedes, the S-Class makes you feel more ‘Important’ and ‘Successful’ while traveling in it. The Lexus is an outstanding vehicle in terms of providing physical comfort to the passenger with silky smooth rides, but the S-Class is great in terms of providing both physical and a sort of mental comfort as if you are riding something more elegant, something more majestic. As a vehicle that evokes an emotion of awe from the people around it, the S-Class takes a narrow win.
Great Performance and In a Beautiful Design
These are luxury vehicles focused on comfort yet that doesn’t mean that they are not fast. The Lexus LS 500 F Sport trim comes with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that makes 416 HP and 442 lb-ft of torque. It has a 10-speed automatic transmission for the smoothest possible ride and comes in both RWD and AWD options(the RWD has better EPA ratings of 19 MPG city, 30 MPG highway, and 23 MPG combined). It will launch from 0-60 MPH in 4.6 seconds and flat out it will do 136 MPH.
Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class S500 comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 engine that makes 429 HP and 384 lb-ft of torque. But there’s more, the S-Class comes in a Hybrid variant with EQ Boost technology that gives an extra 21 HP and 184 lb-ft of torque for a short amount of time. It features a 9-speed automatic transmission and Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive. It accelerates from 0-60 MPH in 4.8 silent seconds and its top speed maxes out at 130 MPH.
In the engine and performance department, the Lexus takes a narrow victory here. And Mercedes somewhat falls behind in the looks department as well. By no means will anyone say that the merc is a bad-looking car, but the style and looks of the LS make the simplicity of the S Class look a bit bland in comparison. Japanese manufacturers are known for giving mad attention to detail while designing both the interior and exterior. And the new facelift on the LS 500 blows it out of the park in both areas. Moreover, you can still find first-gen and second-gen LS 500s driving around in California to this day(not that surprising considering it is a Toyota make after all). If you buy a Merc, it is bound to depreciate after a few years but very few people will be skeptical buying a used Lexus even if it has done more than 100,000 miles. More driving aids, better looks, greater reliability, and faster performance while being silky smooth give the LS an edge in this department.
Price Is Crucial But Heritage Counts For Something
While both cars are very tightly competitive with each other, there is one major gap between both of them in one aspect, the price. The Lexus starts at $76,000 and the LS F Sport trim starts at $79,600. On the other hand, the S-Class is $109,800 (before the $1,050 destination fee) and the S580 in the Executive Line grade starts at $130,000. This makes the more reliable Lexus an easy bargain for anyone with common sense. But honestly, these cars are made for people who use other people’s money to buy the car. And for that extra money, you get the big sedan that comes from a long history of some of the greatest cars in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Arguably the true leader in the Luxury Saloons category and the fine work of German engineering, the S-Class is a true embodiment of prestige and majesty.