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Its rivals at Audi might have blazed the proverbial trail for all-wheel-drive in luxury sedans, but Mercedes-Benz isn't far behind down the dirt road. Mercedes' own 4Matic AWD system is more popular in the United States than anywhere else in the world – 4Matic models account for about twenty percent of global sales, while in the US 4Matic-equiped Mercedes amount to nearly twice that. American Benz buyers today can get the 4Matic system on no less than eighteen models across seven lines. Think the extra weight and increased fuel consumption of an all-wheel-drive system would be a drawback with rising fuel prices? Mercedes is quick to point out that its latest 4Matic system adds less than 200 pounds to the weight of the car and reduces fuel economy by less than 2 mpg.
Sport-utility vehicles continue as a popular segment, particularly in the American market, and Mercedes offers a variety of SUVs to choose from. But the availability of the 4Matic system on conventional sedans with superior driving dynamics and efficiency presents a compelling case, especially for those living in colder climates requiring a little extra traction when the white stuff hits the ground. (Follow the jump for a video of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class 4Matic tackling the sticky stuff that most SUVs will never see.)
DaimlerChrysler put on an impressive display at this year's Detroit auto show, and Mercedes aimed to make an impact. Its display featured an indoor ice rink designed to highlight the brand's 4Matic models. Dog-sleds, figure skaters and hockey players all took to the ice together with a sampling of Mercedes' 4Matic range. (Check out our high-resolution image gallery below for the best shots of Mercedes' indoor winter wonderland.)