2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup

photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC diesel sedan? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The Mercedes S350 is equipped with a 3.0 liter diesel V6 that generates 240 horsepower and an “incredible” 455 lb.-ft. of torque. It is the second-cheapest model of the S-Class and is the most fuel-efficient of the bunch — even better than the hybrid. The EPA rates the fuel economy to be 21 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. MSRP is $92,550.

MotorTrend — First Test: 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 4MATIC BlueTEC

MotorTrend starts off with high praise: “Let’s cut to the chase: The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 4MATIC BlueTEC is the best long-distance cruiser money can buy in America. Period.” They note that the diesel is 2.1 seconds slower from 0-60 than the S550 and slower than the ML350 in the quarter mile. Yet, they say it is a more “compelling” car because “it feels so much like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class used to feel — effortlessly relaxed and comfortable, and utterly bulletproof. It has the languid majesty that’s been missing from some of the more frenetically powerful S-Class models of recent years,” they continue.

They found the diesel to be “almost inaudible under hard acceleration. … even at 100 mph, the cabin is quiet enough for muted conversation.” And it is the most efficient. The cruising range of the car is more than 700 miles. “We averaged 72 mph for a 500-mile stint out of L.A. and got 29.2 MPG, and over a total of 913 miles that included about 120 miles of urban running and a fast 50-mile blast along one of our favorite back roads, where at times we cruised at 100 mph, the big Benz returned 26.1 MPG,” they reported.

MotorTrend did note that “… the S350 BlueTEC feels slightly lazy on the change of direction, and the 4MATIC system coats the steering in a layer of gelatin, but… it corners with imperious composure, the Airmatic suspension simply shrugging off random lumps and bumps in the road.”

They found the car to be “surprisingly” quick along a winding road.

Bloomberg Businessweek — First Drive: 2012 Mercedes S350 BlueTEC

Businessweek was quick to point out that Mercedes has not offered a diesel-powered version of the S-Class for the past 16 years. Finally they are doing it with this S350 BlueTEC. However, they lament that you give up “raw speed” with the S350 BlueTEC.

They call the ride “very smooth”, but a little “boaty” and they say that it is “squishier” than the BMW 7 Series. They also complain that the brakes don’t bite as hard as they do on the BMW. They add that there is a “slight hesitation” when the accelerator is “punched” but “the car accelerates smoothly after that.”

They agree that the cabin is quiet when the car is driven at all speeds. However, they claim that you do hear the “rasp” of the diesel engine when the car is accelerated “at a relatively low speed.”

Businessweek also discussed the S350’s maintenance: “The diesel engine requires virtually no extra maintenance, Mercedes says. You need to top off the AdBlue reservoir, AdBlue being a chemical solution essential to reducing emissions from the diesel engine. The dealer can do this during regular maintenance visits, or the owner can do it. It’s only slightly more complicated than topping off a car’s windshield wiper fluid, the main difficulty being that the AdBlue reservoir is under the spare tire, so you have to remove the spare to get at it.”

In the end, Businessweek recommended the S350 BlueTEC for its combination of performance, price and fuel efficiency, calling it a “no brainer.”

Car and Driver —  2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec 4MATIC

Car and Driver points out that the highs on this car are that it comes “fairly loaded,” it is quiet, offers great MPG numbers and it loves the highway. Lows are that its acceleration “won’t set your hair on fire” and its “meager” grip: “The S350 posts a disappointing 0.79 g on the skidpad and brakes like a frigate, needing 181 feet to stop from 70 mph.” They conclude that: “All the S-class virtues remain, but the diesel—cheaper, smarter, and as pleasurable to drive as any S550—brings real rationality and economy to the proceedings.”

2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC Review Summary

To sum it up, here are the main likes and dislikes:


  • Best long-distance cruiser
  • Quiet and low-maintenance diesel engine
  • Great MPG
  • Airmatic Suspension
  • Surprisingly quick on winding roads
  • Fairly loaded


  • Lazy on the change of direction
  • Muffled steering
  • Rides a little “boaty”
  • Long braking distance
  • Slight hesitation in acceleration
  • Meager grip

Do you own this car, or have you driven one? What’s your take?

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