The S550 is part of the amazing S-Class line of Mercedes cars that are designed to offer luxury, space, comfort, and style more than any other Mercedes out there. An S-Class looks stately, offers a commanding driving position and it isolates you from the road better than any other full-size luxury sedan out there.
The first S550 was introduced in 2007 for the W221 model line. The W221 pre-facelift S550 was in production between 2007 and 2011 and it offers a 382hp V8 that is still considered a fairly potent and exciting engine to drive. The W221 S550 got a thorough refresh in 2012 and the power was raised to 429hp.
The second generation of the S550 was introduced in 2014 for the W222 generation. The pre-facelift W222 offers 449hp while the post-facelift 2016 W222 S550 offers 463hp and it is the most powerful S550 S-Class model to date.
All in all, the S550 always was and still is one of the best S-Class variants you can buy because it perfectly balances power, comfort, and maintenance costs. It all helps to know that the S550 engine was always reliable and most issues are associated with the electronics or the air suspension.
Mercedes S550 – The powerplant
As previously mentioned, the S550 falls within a mid-to-high level of the S-Class model lineup and is one of the most powerful S-Class models out there. The first-gen S550 uses a 4.7L V8 rated for 17/26 MPG and is a fairly potent and sophisticated engine.
The facelifted W221 got a slight power increase but the engine more or less stayed the same, the MPG results were listed as slightly higher but the real-life MPG result is more or less the same as the pre-facelift version. The 2014 W222 S550 also uses the same 4.7L V8, but the one found in the W222 offers more power and better efficiency.
The 2016 S550 engine is the best of the bunch because it offers a 20/26 MPG fuel efficiency result. All S550 models only come in automatic form and the 7-speed automatic transmission found in the post-facelift W221 and the W222 is a lot better than the one found in the pre-facelift W221.
Rear-wheel drive is the standard powertrain configuration with AWD available as an option while the W222 coupes exclusively come with AWD.
Mercedes S550 – Design and chassis
The 2007 S550 offered a huge upgrade over the W220 as far as design is concerned as the W220 is mostly known to be one of, if not the worst S-Class generation of all time. The facelifted model offers cleaner design choices and it seems to fare a lot better in the second-hand market.
The W222 also introduced a coupe variant which seemed to be incredibly popular initially, but Mercedes decided to stop making the coupe variant for the W223 generation because it failed to deliver what Mercedes wanted to achieve as far as sales are concerned.
The S-Class is the most comfortable Mercedes sedan you can buy and is also one of the most comfortable full-size sedans on the market. The S-Class is known to set standards for the rest of the industry to follow as it introduced a myriad of never-seen-before suspension technologies.
All S550 models with the AIRMATIC Mercedes air suspension system that soaks up bumps admirably. All in all, the S550 is a great car to drive and to be driven in, so if you want that, the S-Class is the car for you.
Mercedes S550 – Reliability and potential issues
The W221 S-Class model is known for issues associated with the in-car electronics such as the auxiliary battery and potential AIRMATIC issues, especially if the system was not maintained correctly. The pre-facelift W221 used a faulty transmission that was later replaced for a more dependable iteration in the post-facelift W221.
The W222 is a more reliable car but it also suffers from various electrical issues because the car is so complex. AIRMATIC is also a lot better with the W222 but it is not without potential faults, especially if not maintained correctly.
Mercedes S550 – Value and practicality
Mercedes S550 models are true $100,000+ cars from the factory, but they also tend to depreciate rapidly. This is a common occurrence with all S-Class models which means that you are better off buying one after 3 years if you want to avoid the brunt of depreciation.
Practicality-wise, the S-Class is massive and is able to transport 4 fully-sized adults in incredible fashion, especially in long-wheelbase form. Cargo space is also massive and so are many interior storage spaces.
Is the Mercedes S550 worth it?
The Mercedes S550 is definitely worth it if you are after a full-size luxury sedan that can do hundreds of miles without stopping or making you tired. An S-Class is designed for benchmark levels of comfort and the S550 is a perfect variant if you are after a superior highway cruiser.
It does cost way too much from the factory, but the depreciation is so severe that a 3-year old car seems like a great buy. It also does cost more money to maintain than all the smaller Mercedes sedans but that is something you ought to expect with a range-topping car.
Is the Mercedes S550 a safe car?
All S550 models were rated with a top-level 5-star safety rating which means that they are as safe as a full-size sedan can be. Mercedes was always focused on making safe and luxurious cars and the S-Class is a prime example of that.
It is worth mentioning that if you want the safest S-Class model, you will have to pay more money for all the auxiliary safety software systems.
Is the W222 S550 better than the W221 S550?
The W222 S550 is indeed better than the W221 S550 because it offers a step up over the W221 in almost every aspect. The W222 still looks and feels brand new, especially the post-facelift version. Value-wise the W221 is a lot cheaper, but that is because it is not on the same level as the W222.
All in all, the W222 is better, but the W221 is also a great car and should serve its purpose admirably for many more years to come.