2019 Mercedes S-Class vs. 2018 Tesla Model S

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes S-Class have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Tesla Model S doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The S-Class’ pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Model S doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes S-Class are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Tesla Model S doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The rear seatbelts optional on the S-Class inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The Model S doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

The S-Class has standard NECK-PRO Front Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the NECK-PRO Front Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Model S doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the S-Class helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera and near-infrared lights to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The Model S doesn’t offer a night vision system.

The S-Class offers an optional Surround View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Model S only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

To help make backing safer, the S-Class’ optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Model S doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The S-Class’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Model S doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The S-Class has standard Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Model S doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the S-Class and the Model S have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras and available all wheel drive.

Warranty

The S-Class’ corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the Model S’ (5/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

There are over 6 times as many Mercedes dealers as there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the S-Class’ warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the S-Class third among large premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Model S isn’t in the top three in its category.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Tesla vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mercedes 10 places higher in reliability than Tesla.

Fuel Economy and Range

The S 450’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel is 688.8 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Model S’ range is only 237 to 335 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 30 minutes for only a 54% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 82 hours and 53 minutes.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the S-Class’ front brake rotors are larger than those on the Model S:

 

S 450/560

S 63/65

Model S

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

16.5 inches

14 inches

The S-Class S 63/65 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The Model S doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The S-Class has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Model S doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

The S-Class stops much shorter than the Model S:

 

S-Class

Model S

 

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the S 63’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Model S (F:255/40R20 & R:285/35R20 vs. F:245/35R21 & R:265/35R21).

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the S-Class can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Model S doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The S-Class offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Tesla doesn’t offer an active suspension on the Model S.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S-Class’ wheelbase is 8.1 inches longer than on the Model S (124.6 inches vs. 116.5 inches). The Maybach S-Class’ wheelbase is 16 inches longer than on the Model S (132.5 feet vs. 116.5 inches).

The S 600 handles at .90 G’s, while the Model S pulls only .86 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

The Mercedes S-Class may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 200 pounds less than the Tesla Model S.

Passenger Space

The S-Class has 18 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Model S (112 vs. 94). The Maybach S-Class has 26 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Model S (120 vs. 94).

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the S-Class’ available rear seats recline. The Model S’ middle row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style and remote trunk release lockout, the S-Class offers cargo security. The Model S’ hatchback body style and non-lockable folding seat defeat cargo security.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the S-Class’ available trunk can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Model S doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

An ASSYST PLUS is standard on the S-Class to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Tesla doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Model S.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Model S, the S-Class has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The S-Class’ standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Model S doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The S-Class offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Model S doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the S-Class the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Model S can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the S-Class to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The Model S doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid. Its optional heated washer nozzles will defrost the washer fluid but not the windshield.

The S-Class’ standard side window demisters help clear frost or condensation from the side windows in the winter. The Model S doesn’t even offer side window demisters, so the driver may have to wipe the windows from the outside to gain side vision.

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the S-Class has standard dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The Model S doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

A power rear sunshade is standard in the S-Class to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Model S doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

Optional air conditioned front and rear seats keep the S-Class’ passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The Model S doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The S-Class has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Model S doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Mercedes S-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the Tesla Model S isn’t available as a coupe, convertible or sedan.

The S-Class is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The Model S doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the S-Class is less expensive to operate than the Model S because typical repairs cost less on the S-Class than the Model S, including $72 less for a water pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Mercedes S-Class, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Tesla Model S isn't recommended.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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