A pinnacle of luxury motoring, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is all-new for model year 2014. This latest version of the German automaker’s flagship launches with two twin-turbo V-8 models, the S550 with 455 horsepower and the S63 AMG 4Matic with 577. We could write a dissertation on the convenience, technology, and safety features of this big sedan. One item of note is the optional “Magic Body Control,” which uses sensors to scan the road ahead of the car. The data is fed to the electronic suspension so it can automatically adjust its damping before the car reaches upcoming bumps or potholes. Beyond the gizmos, though, this car continues to offer a near-peerless blend of ride comfort, handling prowess, and over-the-top luxury — at a price, of course. And the lower-cost turbodiesel and gas/electric hybrid models are no longer available, at least for the time being. Fuel-economy ratings span 18-20 mpg city/highway combined. Base price range is $93,825-$140,425.
2014 Porsche Panamera
Being a Porsche, this is one German luxury car that favors athleticism over opulence. Despite its low-slung profile, the Panamera is a midsize four-door hatchback that easily carries four adults, plus lots of luggage. And, yes, with a good dose of opulence. But its main calling car is that it drives like a genuine Porsche. The 2014 edition gets a mild facelift, a second body-length, and a new available engine. Also introduced with the Panamera E Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid we cover in the CarPreview.com 2014 Electric and Plus-in Hybrid Vehicle Buying Guide. The new available engine is a 420-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that’s more powerful and fuel efficient than the 4.8-liter V-8 it replaces. V-8 engines again power the Panamera GTS, Turbo, and Turbo S models. A long-wheelbase body style is newly available for the 4S and Turbo trims. Panamera is roomy, fast, and engaging to drive. It won’t coddle quite like other big luxury sedans, and its styling is a love/hate affair. You’ll also contend with Porsche’s “We’ll charge whatever we want” pricing structure. The standard Panamera starts at $79,075, which seems reasonable enough until you realize items such as heated seats, a rearview camera, and satellite radio are extra-cost options. The top-line Turbo S Executive retails for an eye-watering $201,495, and even then you can inflate the bottom line with options. Fuel-economy ratings span 18-22 mpg combined.