– 2011 Mercedes S400 Hybrid Test Drive & Review

Mercedes-Benz, a company whose reputation for innovation has been somewhat overshadowed in recent years, has just staked out a new piece of territory.

The 2011 Mercedes S400 hybrid is, in my opinion, the finest hybrid car available, and makes fewer compromises than any alternative-fuel vehicle we’ve seen to date. Mercedes calls it a “light hybrid.”

It’s the first regular-series production car in the world with a lithium-ion battery, the same kind used in a cell phone or a laptop, and a different animal altogether from the nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries used in pretty much every other hybrid.

That allows the battery pack to be so small and compact that is mounted up front, in the engine compartment. Most hybrids mount their batteries in the rear of the car, cramping rear-seat room or trunk space (or both).

So, the S400 has a full-size rear seat and a full-size trunk.

It’s also equipped with a 7-speed automatic, not a CVT like most other hybrids. That makes it feel more like a ‘real’ car and less like a hybrid.

There’s truly too much to list about this car, so check out my video and watch for a full article soon!

—Ross Rapoport, Road Test Editor and Video Host

Visit for more pictures and a downloadable window sticker.

Vehicle: 2011 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

Base Price: $91,000

Price as tested: $102,115

Engine: 3.5L V6, “mild hybrid” (lithium-ion powered electric motor)

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Horsepower: 295 @ 6,000 rpm

Torque: 284 lb.-ft @ 5,000 rpm

0-60 MPH: 7.2 sec.

Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles (vehicle; no separate powertrain warranty)

Fuel Economy: 19 city / 25 highway MPG –

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Charlie is Roadfly’s founder and publisher, and was taught to drive by his father in a 1974 Porsche 914. That made poor Charlie a Porsche fanboy for life, and after driving a 911SC at 16, he bought and campaigned a variety of 944s at racetracks up and down the East Coast, earning awards and track records in his twenties. Charlie never really got over the car bug, and after a career in real estate development he founded the Internet media firm that became Roadfly. Charlie lives in McLean, VA with his wife and two daughters, and between the demands of family and business doesn’t have much time to play with cars anymore, excluding the machinery we review.

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