Mercedes-Benz S550

    The S550 was one of the first models offered with the most recent S-Class redesign; it is plenty powerful and plenty good. But Mercedes added the S63 AMG to the range to complement the other AMG model: the Bentley-battling S65. Whereas the S65—which boasts 604 horsepower and 738 foot- pounds of torque—is adept at consuming interstate and blurring the landscape in supersonic fashion, the lighter S63 is aimed at the V-8 enthusiast more apt to relish a race-inspired 518-hp 6.2-liter engine with a 7-speed automatic and steering wheel paddle shifters. But the 2010 model year ushered in the S400 Hybrid Sedan for those more interested in reservation than performance. As the first series-production sedan in the world to utilize lithium-ion battery technology, the S400 produces 295 hp while remaining 26 percent more fuel efficient than the S550. Lastly, anyone who wants a little more oomph but does not wish to spend six figures on one of the performance-oriented AMG cars, or for that matter, the über-luxurious V-12 S600, will appreciate the relative sanity of the entry-level S550: With 382 hp, the V-8-powered S-Class sedan offers a practical but no less prestigious alternative.

    Pros: With five different power train options, what's not to like?
    Cons: The exterior packaging is a bit blasé.

    Photo by Jim Fets
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