By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 8/31/2011
When the Mercedes-Benz CLS first launched in 2004, it was touted as a four-door coupe, combining the emotion and charisma of a sleek two-door with the comfort and practicality of a traditional four-door sedan. With it, Mercedes established a new tier of elegance within its line-up. For 2012, the CLS arrives for its second act. Still a head-turner, the new Mercedes-Benz CLS sedan now trades some of its sensuality and artfulness for a dose of aggression and sporting character. The 2012 CLS550 looks and feels more like a driver's car, and is backed by a robust 402-horsepower engine. Not enough oomph for you? An uber-powerful AMG version is also available. Although the Mercedes CLS's disposition has clearly changed a bit, the car's exclusivity remains perfectly intact.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS is for affluent buyers looking for an equal-parts blend of sophistication and dynamism. It is for those who want to enjoy luxury-sedan comforts, but who also have the desire to make a bold fashion statement. You will turn more than your fair share of heads with the Mercedes CLS. Guaranteed.
For those shopping specifically for a Mercedes, but are still mindful of the bottom line, the CLS550 may seem a bit too pricey, especially since the Mercedes E550 offers much of the same for a noticeably lower sticker. The question then becomes, is the CLS's unique styling worth the price premium?
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 brags a meaner, more coupe-like design and driving dynamics to match. Ride and handling have both been improved, and a more powerful engine has arrived. Within, you'll find a better-defined cockpit and a larger roster of tech highlights.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is a true driver's car. Power comes from a hearty 402-hp 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 that allows the sedan to launch strong from the line and accelerate effortlessly in mid-sprint. Passing power is in abundance, to say the least. And though there is a 518-hp AMG model on the way – MSRP: $94,900 – it hardly seems necessary. In terms of driving dynamics, the Mercedes CLS550 has improved on all fronts. Steering, in particular, is laser precise, putting the CLS right on par with BMW 5 Series and 6 Series cars when it comes to sheer driver control. The new CLS inspires confidence through hard cornering and high-speed lane changes, and it feels smaller than it actually is. But when you're not pushing it hard, the 2012 CLS assumes a relaxed personality. It offers a smooth ride as it glides along, whether on long country sweepers or bumpy city streets.
Adaptive Highbeam Assist
This innovative camera-based system can detect oncoming vehicles and automatically dip one or both headlight beams, while also adjusting their range, in order to create the ideal lighting conditions for both you and the oncoming driver. Also enhancing the Mercedes CLS550's lighting package are optional full LED headlamps.
Electromechanical Direct-Steer System
The 2012 Mercedes CLS550 is the first Benz to have this newly-engineered system. Responsive and precise, it is one of the primary reasons for the CLS550's newfound driving dynamics. Beyond its sporting nature, the system contributes to the vehicle's overall efficiency by only drawing energy when actual steering is taking place.