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2003 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

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Consumer Reviews & Ratings

Overall Rating
8.9
Out of 10

Based on 144 Ratings for the 2003 - 2012 models.

Review this car
more rating details
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    9.4/10
  • Comfort
    9.2/10
    Styling
    9.4/10
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The Best So Far

By on Saturday, November 28, 2009

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

"I have owned lots of cars in my life: big cars like a BMW 740i and a Mercedes CL500 and little cars like a Chrysler Crossfire convertible and Mercdes 320SLK. This is the 2nd SL I have owned, and I will probably own one forever. For me there is no better blend of style, performance, top down fun, gadgetry and VALUE. It seems strange to use the the word "value" and SL class Mercedes in the same sentence, but it's true, and here's the secret: Buy Preowned. Let someone else take the 50% or more hit in the first two or three years. You already know that these cars are usually the best maintened of any because of both the absurd original price and the fussiness of the owners. They are always brought to a dealer for servicing (usually via free pickup and delivery), and often have very low mileage. They are often the 2nd or third car the owner drives; rarely the number one daily ride. Of course it could be. The first time around I bought a gorgeous 2005 SL500 with about 8000 miles on it for about 55% of its original list. The warranty was expiring so I just traded it in on a mint 2007 SL550 with an original list of over $100,000. I'm smarter now and the economy isn't that great so this time I paid considerably less than half and of the 2007 MSRP. Oh yeah, I also got four and a half years more of complete "new car" warranty. How, you ask? Well, Mercedes gives four years to start, the CPO deal gives you an extra year. Then I bought an addiional two year bumper to bumper warranty from Mercedes itself for $4000 - well worth it if you want to keep the car and you ever have a repair. These are great cars, but they are super complicated and stuff does break! So altogether then the car is warrantied by Mercedes for seven year or 100,000 miles. This car was put in service in March of 2007. It has 20,000 miles on it so there are four and half years and 80,000 miles to go. I think I'm good to go for a while. So now think about it. Where can you buy a $100,000+ car that has to be one of the sharpest on the planet for in the mid 40s and have it warrantied for almost five more years? Think about it before you buy that $45,000 Mustang or Z or even the 350SLK."

27 people out of 27 found this review helpful

Fun . . . but really unreliable

By on Tuesday, March 03, 2009

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
4/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

"The car does not disappoint with respect to syling, amenities, and performance although it is a little heavy on its feet and definitely not a true sports car. Retractable roof is a great feature and with the pano option provides a nice, bright, and airy cockpit in the winter. Having said all this I would never recommend this car due to its abysmal reliability. I purchased my car new a year and a half ago and have put less than 10k miles on it. It has left me stranded three times. The first two incidents involved complete transmission failure leaving me with a dead car in city traffic. The third and most frightening incident involved a total failure of the brake system leaving me with only a rudimentary backup brake system and a VERY impressive display of warning lights and alarms. I bought this car with the assumption that Daimler had cleaned up its well-known quality problems of recent years but this obviously must not be the case. Never again."

17 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Better than I expected

By on Sunday, March 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "very fun to drive, great with the top down or up"

Cons: "cup holders are just in a strange place for me"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car is a real joy to drive on long trips of short jaunts around town. Its been a real gem for me over the first 18 months, with no issues to report, other than the turbo "chirp" noise that was fixed after adding some stop squeak. I What's funny is this is the first real sports car I have owned that my wife also loves. I have owned Vettes, a 911 and Boxster S and she wasn't crazy about the ride for anything other than a quick trip to the store. But she loves this thing, going to Aspen, or shopping or down the the Springs and back. Everyone loves this car. I love the throaty sound. Its so much different than a typical Mercedes purrr and makes you really appreciate the ride more. Get this if: If you are looking for the best bang for your shopping dollar in the luxury performance arena. You love the balance of precision, power and cruise comfort. You don't mind people staring. You love to sometimes rocket to the speed limit. You are tired of ragtops and want something that feels like a sedan when the top is up."

16 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Wicked Fast!

By on Friday, December 07, 2007

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

"I just bought a used SL65 AMG with less than 30K miles. My friends told me that MBZ's had quality issues, but I couldn't help myself. With over 600 hp it is quicker than my Z06 or 360 Ferrari. The styling is great, but too close to other MBZ's that are far less expensive. And then there are the quality issues. Not major ones, just a few quirky issues like electronics not fully working and brakes that squeak like a UPS truck. Not impossible, but for a car with an MSRP of over $200K, they are annoying. Also, the NAV system and the multiple menus for changing options are cumbersome to work with. But push the button on the gearshift to fire up that V-12 and the sound makes you overlook many of its shortcomings. WARNING: used values drop like a rock! Don't buy one new unless you can afford to take the huge hit."

15 people out of 15 found this review helpful

A Great Compromise

By on Thursday, September 06, 2007

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

"I traded my 2002 CL500 for a 2006 SL500 last month. My CL was one of the best cars that I have ever owned, fast, quiet, smooth, luxerious, etc. However, no one ever liked sitting in the rear seats, even to go less than five miles. Just too hard to get in and out. So, since no one liked the rear seat, we did not use it, and with the SL, I dont have to hear about any "too hard to use", complaints from my better half. In comparison, the SL500 is a great compromise, it has many of the same features of the CL, it's great looking, faster, ( appears faster), luxarious, and is an easy comfortable - 16 total seconds to get up or down. The negatives would be, it rides rougher, ( AMG Wheels,and wider tires on the SL), is smaller inside, ( I am 6'3" tall), and the shorter wheelbase makes the road stripes louder. However, I love the convertable top, like rolling down a window, and the car looks great with the top up or down. They both are great cars. I drove Porsche's for several weekends as a comparison, and while I truely liked them, they were rough, loud, not near as luxarious inside, and my wife would not drive a Porsche. She likes driving the SL500 when I am not in it."

15 people out of 15 found this review helpful

The best SL ever!

By on Sunday, January 27, 2008

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

"This is my third SL and its the best ever. Dont buy new unless you can take a big hit on value. Buy a one owner with low milage and you will love the car even more when you see the value it holds after five or more years. This car is the most exciting car to drive in total luxury and speed to kill for."

13 people out of 13 found this review helpful

3rd SL and the best

By on Monday, March 31, 2008

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

"I've owned 3 SLs in 5 years. The SL550 is by far the best. And the best car I ever have driven. Faults? yes. Mainly the insane standard service prices, and resale values which are among the worst in the industry."

9 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Practical yet high performance

By on Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
Not Rated

Pros: "Luxury, elegant appearance and high performance"

Cons: "Expensive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I had to decide between Porsche 911 or Mercedes SL. In contrast to Porsche, this is a heavy car. Ultimately, however, I opted for Mercedes SL instead because, unlike Porsche 911, its luxury interior and hardtop makes this car a practical and very comfortable luxury daily automobile. Yet, it is also a high performance sport car. Plus, stylistically it is ageless; a true head turner. Excellent for cruising down PCH with the top down. My car is very low mileage and it is in flawless condition. I have not had any mechanical issue. That said, maintenance and repair can be very expensive. Therefore, either buy very low mileage and keep annual driving to 10 K or less for the first 40 - 50 K; alternately if you are buying a used high mileage SLin that case concomitantly buy warranty."

8 people out of 8 found this review helpful

maintence problems

By on Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
5/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

"while this car looks great its a maintence problem, always in the shop would not buy again. this is the 2nd sl the first was taken back as a lemon and the 2nd is a probem two !"

8 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Luxurious roadster with power, handling

By on Saturday, November 26, 2011

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "power, handling, top down driving, luxurious"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"With the convenient hard top convertible neatly stowed in the truck with ample storage remaining, this luxurious roadster is the perfect vehicle for a trip done the California coast or the winding mountain roads of the Sierra Nevadas. Quiet and comfortable until you suddenly accerate and the 493 HP AMG tuned engine generates a throaty roar and sets you back in the heated and massaging front seat. Owning the car for over six years, I have no complaints except that I don't have enough time to drive it. While I am sure the new models are equally nice, I prefer the style of front end of the 2003-2008 models with the round headlights. If your thinking of a used SL,choose the AMG version. The power is quite amazing. Truly a muscle car but with all the amenities and conveniences Mercedes is famous for."

7 people out of 7 found this review helpful

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