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I have a 2002 S500, silver color, with 126K miles. Just had the rear suspensions replaced. Recently had the air compressor and the valve block replaced. Loves the ride and the speed of this car! Will keep her if nothing else major breaks down...

My old mechanic (passed away last Christmas) loves the W220 chassis and said the W220 is reliable, better than the W221. The new mechanic (mobile mechanic who only works on Mercedes Benz only) told me the W221 is more reliable than the W220. So which model do you think is more reliable?
 

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I have both . Generally both are pretty reliable but with certain model exceptions (the 2001-02 s600 and 2007 s550 both had engine issues which were corrected in later model years ) . ABC suspension cars are less reliable than airmatic cars .

The newer cars are simply newer , so you’ll have less chance of parts failing due to age like hoses and other rubber parts . But Both models have a ton of electronics that fail regardless of age .

I will say that I enjoy the dual battery system on the W221 because you can let the car sit for Long periods and it will still start , many w220 will kill the battery if not driven in 3-4 weeks. But if you drive daily it’s not a concern . The biggest difference for me is the W221 feels like a much larger car and is harder to paRk etc. the W220 felt smaller and. More nimble even if the size is similar .
 

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To me, there are two important differences.

The used W221 cars are quite a bit more expensive.

I can work on the W220 cars - the W221 cars, not so much. The later cars have very proprietary computer software and controls, while the clone SDS can do pretty much everything on the W220.
 

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I have both . Generally both are pretty reliable but with certain model exceptions (the 2001-02 s600 and 2007 s550 both had engine issues which were corrected in later model years ) . ABC suspension cars are less reliable than airmatic cars .

The newer cars are simply newer , so you’ll have less chance of parts failing due to age like hoses and other rubber parts . But Both models have a ton of electronics that fail regardless of age .

I will say that I enjoy the dual battery system on the W221 because you can let the car sit for Long periods and it will still start , many w220 will kill the battery if not driven in 3-4 weeks. But if you drive daily it’s not a concern . The biggest difference for me is the W221 feels like a much larger car and is harder to paRk etc. the W220 felt smaller and. More nimble even if the size is similar .
Absolutely :)

The answer to op is ask the question when you find a 17 year old W221 with the same Mileage :wink
 

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I have both . Generally both are pretty reliable but with certain model exceptions (the 2001-02 s600 and 2007 s550 both had engine issues which were corrected in later model years ) . ABC suspension cars are less reliable than airmatic cars .

The newer cars are simply newer , so you’ll have less chance of parts failing due to age like hoses and other rubber parts . But Both models have a ton of electronics that fail regardless of age .

I will say that I enjoy the dual battery system on the W221 because you can let the car sit for Long periods and it will still start , many w220 will kill the battery if not driven in 3-4 weeks. But if you drive daily it’s not a concern . The biggest difference for me is the W221 feels like a much larger car and is harder to paRk etc. the W220 felt smaller and. More nimble even if the size is similar .
Interesting. Do you think the W221 is quieter, more comfortable and refined? That tends to be the way cars go, and I don't think the W220 really set new standards there. ABC and the V12 were the high points for me, but otherwise it felt half way between the E class and S class.

I've just bought a W221 but haven't driven it properly yet. It's a fixer-upper, and it's nearly fixed up.

Nick
 

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My W220 was a s430 with stock 16 inch wheels and airmatic , my W221 is a s600 v12 with 20 inch s65 wheels and exhaust , and abc , so they feel very different . I would say the W220 was the king of high speed silence , smoothness and refined ride . The most comfortable and confidence
Ins piring car to drive over 120mph I’ve ever had .

The s600 W221 feels larger as I mentioned , and is a scary beast , with massive acceleration and a ride you can hear due to the exhaust and feel due to the tires and suspension. Not bad , just not a serene luxury car experience like the W220 with those cushy tires .

The biggest in-car difference to me is the sensation of the larger size and of course the more advanced electronics in the W221 . Both are awesome cars ,the W220 feels much more nimble but outdated in technology (a new android head unit with cameras would have gone a long way to bringing the W220 up to W221 tech ) .
 

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Reliable? I suppose that it depends on how well you keep up your car.

My standard for reliability is Honda, our family having owned them since the mid 1980's and myself having owned (and still own) several. I have a 2003 S430, completely stock, which has been reliable as any of our Honda Civics. It really is about that trouble-free. Just get in and drive, no worries. If I had to limit myself to just *one* car, it would be this one. Yep, even over the Hondas.

The S600 TT, with one exception, has also been very solid for reliability; that one exception was my fault, not the car's, because of something I didn't know about the ABC pump at the time.

The lady's car, the project 2000 S500, is solid. It's remarkably so given that it wasn't cared for in a lot of ways as it should've been. Fortunately, the previous owner(s) did take good care of the engine and transmission. After I got through fixing it up and getting it to where it should be, I would trust it anywhere on any trip. More importantly, I would trust it to take care of the lady, without stranding her. This car was the first Android head-unit conversion I've done, and yep, it does modernize things up nicely. It's got front- and rear-view cameras. Even has TV reception if you're parked at a rest stop. Not bad for a 20-year-old car. :)

The same applies to Dad's car, the 2000 S430. Matter of fact, I *did* trust it from Las Vegas, NV to Virginia. No AAA safety net, either. It currently has the stock COMAND head unit with a 10-changer CD that he had installed right after purchase.

The common thread here is maintenance. I stay right on top of my cars, and if anything goes wrong, I address it immediately. This is pretty rare now, given that my cars are at my personal definition of, "good repair". As with any car, it can take some doing to bring a neglected W220 to that standard, but once you do, I've found it remarkably easy to keep it there. Yep, even the S600 TT.

Now, to the W221's. @Skylaw has reported good results from his W221, and as a former W220 owner, he is well positioned to answer this question.

I drove a W221 at one point. It does feel bigger and more massive. It's very comfortable and certainly powerful. To call it an undesirable car would be a lie and just downright stupid. But...would I own one?

That's really the question. Would I own a W221? Sure, if I could do everything with it with my SDS that I currently can do with my W220's. The fear, for me, is maintenance down the road. That bit @wallyp mentioned about proprietary computers is, unfortunately, true, chiefly because of something called, "SCN codes". My cars don't require those. W221's apparently do. Makes it harder to work on them yourself. A W220, on the other hand, is much easier in that respect.

So, if you don't "DIY" your maintenance, then W220 vs. W221 doesn't really make much difference, except for the fact that the W221's are newer. If you do "DIY" your maintenance, though, I'd say W220 all the way. It's the last S-class that doesn't require that ridiculous, monopolistic, moronically stupid brain-damage called SCN codes.
 

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The biggest in-car difference to me is the sensation of the larger size and of course the more advanced electronics in the W221 . Both are awesome cars ,the W220 feels much more nimble but outdated in technology (a new android head unit with cameras would have gone a long way to bringing the W220 up to W221 tech ) .
Thanks. Wheels and tires made a lot of difference for me. My S500 had 16's and was super-smooth, but after that I went upwards through 17, 18, 19 & 20, though the latter were a bit too big.

I've not been able to drive my 221 properly yet, but I've been taking it apart already, and it does seem that MB have learned some lessons from multiple specific weaknesses on the 220.

The front subframe is steel (seems like a retrograde step) but allows better access under the engine.

The radiator bottom bracket is like all other cars, and much easier to work around.

The radiator top panel is removeable, so access to the fan, radiator and heat exchangers is trivial.

The V12 engine mounts can be replaced from underneath, without removing the engine, subframe or support arms.

The ABC suspension struts have much better strut top bushes.

The front struts have serviceable bottom ball joints.

There is no longer an ABC "hose to no-where".

The ABC hoses are protected by fire-sleeve (like my 220 was).

The tandem pump output is easy to disconnect.

The engine compartment bulkhead is steel rather than cardboard.

The washer reservoir and fuel tank no longer steal space front & rear.

Seems like a sledgehammer to solve a problem, but I like the separate starter battery.

Here's the really big difference for me - the back seat is MUCH better.

I've always preferred the 220 styling, inside and out, but the facelift cars with AMG body kits look much better to my eyes, and I've already started making plans for an ECU tune and charger cooler, wheel, tire and brake upgrades.

For all of those reasons, plus the practical consideration of a lack of pervading rust everywhere, I think the 221 may well be much better to look after.

Nick
 

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Hi @welwynnick ,

Great write up, says it all, nice to know of the improvements, I've only had 2 in the Workshop for servicing and minor repairs so I've never got that intimate with them.

Drive beautifully, and good tech on them :)

Now .........................

If you don't mind sharing, what did you pay ? Age, Model, Mileage, ?

I'm curious, as I'm UK and have been dipping my toe into a look see :wink
 

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Ughhhh
I just checked out a company maintained 2011 W221.
Black / Ivory leather interior
The car doesn't have as much as a scratch ..
Fully loaded with infrared, radar etc ..
The only thing I wish was S500, instead of the 350 that it is.

In dollar terms, it will cost me 30,000 USD.

and yeah, drive it once and you will not come back ... it is just a dimension ahead of 220.


Hi @welwynnick ,

Great write up, says it all, nice to know of the improvements, I've only had 2 in the Workshop for servicing and minor repairs so I've never got that intimate with them.

Drive beautifully, and good tech on them :)

Now .........................

If you don't mind sharing, what did you pay ? Age, Model, Mileage, ?

I'm curious, as I'm UK and have been dipping my toe into a look see :wink
 

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I need to stick up for the w220 amongst you people .... I have had 2 w220s and both times I went shopping with the intention of buying a w221, a newer, more advanced car in terms of ICE. However, every test drive resulted in a "meh" feeling that can be described as indifference. They do look and drive like a larger car, not ponderous, but there is no attempt to hide its bulk from the driver seat. While I'm talking about the driver's perspective, the Harman Kardon set up is dreadful to my ears. Great for news radio but it ruins anything else. From the outside, the car has hard angles on the fenders and less-flowing profile than the w220.

I say all this for the simple reason that to me a w220 is preferable to a w221. It is fun to toss around corners, the Airmatic ride is super smooth, the Bose system sound is excellent, the multi contour seats are comfortable, and I like the smooth lines and profile. Even with now ancient ICE, I'd rather drive it than a s550. Please understand this is solely my opinion and YMMV.

John

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I own both, an 06 S500 and 11 S550. I am an old man, 62 who is developing permanent lower back pain due to having scoliosis. Long journeys in any car are hard. I have to get out and do some stretches to fix my back. With that in mind, the level of adjustment of W221 seat is out of this world. It is so much further ahead than the W220 seat. I find it helps my back a lot. I think physicians should prescribe these cars for lower back pain ;-)

Both cars are fun to drive, fast and comfortable. The W221 has a nice throaty roar as you drive it around in town. On the road, I have to listen to audio books to keep myself alert when I drive long distances, the driving is so effortless and comfortable. It feels super smooth and stable at high speeds.

The 06 S500 was $7k while the 11 S550 was $18.5k. In both cases, I am very happy with my purchases, I think each is good value for money.
 

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If you're talking about seat comfort, I think the BMW 7 series has always beat out Mercedes. I'm on my second, a '16 750i, and nothing compares that I've driven, although a Jaguar XJ comes close, but climbing out of one I find somewhat challenging.

John

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miles on the clock

Have been helping a friend looking for an S class so looking at both W220 & W221

What I noticed was there were way more "high mileage" W221's

Most W220 were around 120k-140k miles at the higher end while I saw many of the W221's
with 180k-220k miles on the odometer.

This leads me to think the W221's "go the distance"
 

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When I was looking for my W221, I noticed the same, a lot of cars with high miles on eBay. Looking at the vehicle reports and sellers' descriptions, it looks like this is a popular executive limo service car. I passed on all the high mileage ones I found, but like you, I found it encouraging in that the M273 engine looks to go many miles along with 7 speed transmission.

Have been helping a friend looking for an S class so looking at both W220 & W221

What I noticed was there were way more "high mileage" W221's

Most W220 were around 120k-140k miles at the higher end while I saw many of the W221's
with 180k-220k miles on the odometer.

This leads me to think the W221's "go the distance"
 
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