Test Drive: Diesel’s back in big Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has brought back a diesel version of its big S-Class sedan to the U.S. the first since the 1996 model.

It seems odd that it waited so long to field a diesel for the S-Class that met U.S. emissions rules, because Mercedes has been a diesel pioneer here and is doing good business with diesel power in its smaller E-Class sedans and in its SUVs.

Called the S350 Bluetec and introduced last fall as a 2012 model, it has all-wheel drive (called 4Matic) standard. Starting at $93,425 with shipping, it is near the bottom of the S-Class price list. Only the S400 hybrid is cheaper, at $92,725.

That makes the S350 diesel a relative bargain. For just $700 more, the diesel gives you the 4Matic not available on the hybrid, as well as better mileage and quicker acceleration. M-B says the hybrid sells best on the Left Coast, the diesel in the East and Snow Belt, and each accounts for about…

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