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First Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 Turbodiesel

A powerful performer that also delivers great mileage.

by on Dec.09, 2011

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec.

Let me get this out of the way: I’ve been a fan of Mercedes-Benz products for decades.  I remember my freshman year in college, when everyone still drove American cars, and my buddy Joe had a mint condition 230 sedan.  Yes, it was slow, but it still was a Benz, and I not only felt cool riding around in it, but I also felt incredibly safe, and for good reason, as Mercedes-Benz has long been a leader in safety technology.

Graduation in the early 80s saw diesel powered Benzes at their peak.  You could choose from entry level diesel sedans, to a cool coupe, to the top of the line S-Class diesel.  In fact, 80% of Mercedes-Benz sales during that time were diesel-powered models. But due to increasing diesel fuel prices, and a general dislike of the then smelly, slower accelerating process that was diesel, sales waned, and the last full-sized Benz diesel sold in the United States was the 1995 S350.

So, perhaps, it’s appropriate that the diesel new flagship of the German maker’s U.S. line-up is the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec.

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Though Mercedes restarted U.S. production of diesel powered cars and SUVs several years ago, model year 2012 represents the return of the big S-Class diesel, and it is an incredibly fun car to drive.  Because high torque diesels make their power at low RPM, when you put you foot into the new S-Class, it moves out with startling authority (0-60 mph in seven seconds). And with new technology, very low sound levels accompany this powerful acceleration.  Take one on a test drive, and if you didn’t know going in you were driving a diesel model, I’d bet nine of ten drivers would not know they weren’t driving a gasoline powered car.

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Green Car Top 5

Diesels vie with hybrids for annual enviro-car award.

by on Oct.07, 2009

The 2010 Toyota Prius was an obvious choice for finalist in the Green Car of the Year competition, but the list includes a few surprises.

The 2010 Toyota Prius was an obvious choice for finalist in the Green Car of the Year competition, but the list includes a few surprises.

Hybrids dominate – though just barely – in the run up to the fifth annual “Green Car of the Year,” the annual award that will be announced at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Designed to recognize vehicles that are making significant contributions to the environment, organizers today announced the five finalists, a list that includes three hybrids: the latest version of the Toyota Prius, the reborn Honda Insight and the new Mercury Milan Hybrid, as well as two diesel-powered vehicles: the Audi A3 TDI and Volkswagen’s new Golf TDI.

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The choices reflect a few surprises.  For one thing, the midsize Mercury Milan was picked instead of the more popular Ford Fusion Hybrid.  And jurors left out several Ford “eco” models, the maker’s growing list of vehicles, such as the Taurus SHO and Flex, using the new EcoBoost gasoline engine.  Also left off were the new hybrids or diesels from General Motors, Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

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