With its diesel V6 engine, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec offers better gas mileage and a lower sticker price than the flagship gas-powered S550.

With its diesel V6 engine, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec offers better gas mileage and a lower sticker price than the flagship gas-powered S550.

2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec

Discount Diesel?
Discount Diesel?

With its diesel V6 engine, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec offers better gas mileage and a lower sticker price than the flagship gas-powered S550.

Overview
Overview

The new Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec sedan may well offer the best value of any model in the automaker's lineup of S-Class luxury cars. Powered by a sophisticated V6 diesel engine, the S350 is only a tad more expensive than the S400 Hybrid, and significantly cheaper than the gasoline-powered S550, Mercedes's flagship luxury sedan. It's also rated to get 31 miles per gallon on the highway, and 25 mpg on average—which is 8 mpg more than the S550 and 4 mpg more than the S400 Hybrid. In other respects, the S350 BlueTec is identical to the S550, with the same roomy, elegantly appointed interior, spacious trunk, and sound-deadened cabin. The S350 BlueTec lacks the raw speed of the S550, but it's probably quick enough for most owners.

Interior
Interior

The cabin is roomy with high-quality materials and excellent workmanship, and is very quiet at all speeds. The Comand control system, however, is complicated. Mercedes should study Audi's easier-to-use combination of buttons and screen commands.

Engine/Transmission
Engine/Transmission

Under the hood is a 3.0-liter, 240-horsepower diesel-powered V6 that produces 455 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is coupled with a seven-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive comes standard.

Performance
Performance

The S350 BlueTec is rated to jump from zero to 60 in 7.0 seconds, slightly faster than the S400 Hybrid (7.2 seconds) but much slower than the S550 4Matic (5.4 seconds), which has a 429-hp gasoline-powered V8 engine.

Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway, 25 on average—8 mpg better than the S550 and 4 mpg better than the S400 Hybrid. The Audi A8 is rated at 18/28/21, and the BMW 740i at 17/25/20. BMW's ActiveHybrid 7i is rated at 17/24/20.

Safety
Safety

The 2012 S350 BlueTec doesn't yet have government crash-test ratings, but it comes with an array of safety features that includes front and rear head-protecting and rear side air bags, stability and traction control, and pre- and post-collision safety systems.

Price
Price

Starting price is $93,425, slightly more than the Mercedes S400 Hybrid ($92,725) but significantly less than the gasoline-powered S550 sedan, which goes for $95,375 with rear-wheel drive and $98,375 with all-wheel drive.