Lexus LS vs. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - September 18, 2019

Big sedans are very much alive at the top end of the luxury class, where prestige and quality matter most. As the flagships of their brands, the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have earned impeccable reputations in this league.

The LS impresses with its silky operation and dedication to passenger comfort, while the S-Class distinguishes itself with vault-like construction and regal bearing. Which of these titans represents the pinnacle of luxury in our view?

See a side-by-side comparison of the LS & S-Class »

What the LS Gets Right

Buyers who haven't visited a Lexus showroom in the last few years might not recognize the current LS. It's long and low, with curvaceous flanks and a daring spindle-style grille.

Most of its length is dedicated to the cavernous interior, dripping with indulgences like 28-way massaging seats, organic wood or cut-glass trim, and rear amenities on par with a private jet. Hitting the road only enhances the mood. The LS is smooth, swift and silent as it gobbles up the miles.

The Lexus LS is no softie when it comes to performance. The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine musters up 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque – enough to take the big cruiser from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds.

With the standard rear-drive setup, the LS earns EPA ratings of 19 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. The available all-wheel-drive system reduces city efficiency to 18/27/21 mpg (city/highway/combined). Buyers can also get the LS with a hybrid V6 powerplant capable of 28 mpg combined.

What the S-Class Gets Right

The ultimate success symbol from Mercedes-Benz, the S-Class sedan casts a majestic shadow wherever it goes. Its fine detailing and abundance of sculpted steel are worthy of study from behind a velvet rope.

The interior dazzles in its own right with yards of quilted leather, thick chrome accents, and wood milled in the owner's choice of patterns. The 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster flows into the colorful center touchscreen in a display of high-class wizardry.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class starts out with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that send 362 hp and 369 lb-ft to the rear wheels. The available twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, good for 463 hp and 516 lb-ft, propels the S-Class form 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds. At the top of the lineup, Mercedes offers a pair of hand-built engines, a 4.0-liter V8 with 603 hp, and a 6.0-liter V12 that tops out a 621 hp.

Is the S-Class Worth It?

Any comparison of these flagships begs for a consideration of cost. The Lexus LS starts at $20,000 less than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the gap only widens from there. This makes the LS a bargain, even though it falls short of the S-Class in opulence and sheer aesthetics.

The S-Class evokes a emotional response that's best described as awe. It's hard to put a value on something so intangible. Some buyers might consider it priceless.

Our Verdict: Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the stuff dreams are made of, and not even a Lexus can top that.

Take a closer look at the Lexus LS »

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz S-Class »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


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