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2009 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

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2009 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors


In the world of premium and exotic roadsters, only a handful of vehicles offer the exclusivity, performance and overall reliability of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL. Highlighting its stunning exterior is a clever retractable hardtop, allowing the SL to serve as both coupe and convertible. The SL's varied model line delivers performance ranging from impressively quick to awesomely fast, and the car's extensive list of safety features is unsurpassed in this category. Few exotics can match the SL's impressively smooth and comfortable ride, either. Price may be the SL's only Achilles' heel, with the lowest-priced SL starting tens of thousands of dollars higher than a BMW 650i or Jaguar XK.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL is more than just a performance dynamo; it's an attention grabber. The car looks as good with the power-operated hardtop covering the cockpit as it does when retracted. If you believe a car's first mission is to convey your success to the world, then the SL is the ideal spokesperson.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The only reason not to like the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL is the price. Don't feel bad; well over 90 percent of the rest of us can't afford one, either.

What's New for 2009

Major exterior revisions for 2009 include the addition of a single bar grille and more angular headlamps, a twin power dome hood and louvered side gills. AIRSCARF, a feature that blows warm air across the back and neck, is offered for the first time. New standard features on the SL600 and SL65 AMG include the Panorama Roof, AIRSCARF and Parktronic, while a new model, the SL63 AMG, debuts with a new Multi-Clutch Transmission (MCT).

Driving It Driving Impressions

As you drive the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL you'll feel exactness in the steering wheel and brakes and in the way the car corners and copes with emergency situations. What you don't feel is the army of computers monitoring, controlling and adjusting every facet of the SL driving experience. Mercedes-Benz has equipped the SL with Active Body Control, an innovative suspension that helps keep the car level in sharp turns. The system can also detect when a rollover is imminent, activating the pop-up rollover bar. The SL550 combines both power and price into a very desirable package. Powered by a 382-horsepower V8, the SL550 rockets from dead stops like a stone leaving a slingshot, perhaps leaving one wondering just what in the world you might do with all the power of the other even more-potent SL variants.

Favorite Features

Retractable Hardtop
The SL's retractable hardtop works flawlessly and, when in place, is as handsomely appointed inside as any Mercedes coupe.

Panorama Glass Panel Top
The available panorama glass panel top puts a unique twist on the retractable hardtop design.

Vehicle Details Interior   photo

The SL's cockpit is awash in leather and power features. In fact, just about everything inside the SL is automated, which means you set it once, then forget it. We should point out that some of the controls – the new COMAND system, for example – are complicated and take some effort to master. As for overall comfort, you'll be hard pressed to find a more comfortable set of seats, and the SL's ingenious folding top design doesn't take up the entire trunk when retracted, leaving just over seven cubic feet for luggage or shopping bags.

Exterior

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL blends many lines from the latest Mercedes-Benz show cars into a production coupe that words alone cannot adequately describe. A long hood, short deck, massive wheels and a barely detectable retractable hardtop put the SL in a class all its own. Deeply sculpted side scoops and a protruding nose mark a revolutionary departure from the conservative styling found on the previous generation SL. Yet below the seductive skin the SL's legendary structural and safety features remain intact.

Notable Standard Equipment

As standard equipment, the SL550 has dual-zone automatic air conditioning, the COMAND system with DVD navigation, driver's information center, illuminated keyless remote, xenon HID headlamps with wiper/washers, auto-dimming mirrors with right-hand tilt-down feature, harman/kardon 510-watt audio with ten speakers and a six-disc CD changer, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, frontal airbags, dual side-impact airbags, automatic pop-up roll bar, dual 12-way leather power seats, cruise control, stability program, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, traction control, Active Body Control, a seven-speed automatic transmission and 18-inch alloy wheels. The SL600 and SL65AMG add the Panorama glass roof, Parktronic and AIRSCARF.

Notable Optional Equipment

Some of the SL's more popular options include: The Trim Package (SL550) which includes Nappa leather seats and a wood shift knob; the Wheel Package, which adds perforated rear disc brakes, AMG wheels and smoke-colored tail lamps; and the Premium package, which adds Keyless Go, ventilated seats, cornering lamps and bi-xenon headlamps. Stand-alone options include Parktronic, Distronic automatic cruise control, Panorama glass panel roof with power sunshade and a power trunk closer.

Under the Hood

The SL550's 5.5-liter V8 is the best choice for mere mortals, offering acceptable power at a good price, although there is something purely sumptuous about the 510-horsepower V12 of the SL600. Speed freaks, thrill seekers and millionaires will no doubt opt for the supercharged SL55 AMG or the twin-turbo SL65 AMG, both of which offer big horsepower figures but with a significant difference in low-end torque.

5.5-liter V8
382 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
391 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/21

6.3-liter V8 Supercharged
518 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
465 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/18

5.5-liter V12 Twin-Turbo
510 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
612 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1900-3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/18

6.0-liter V12 Twin-Turbo
604 horsepower @ 4800 rpm
738 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2000-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/18

Pricing Notes

The SL550's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $97,000, while the SL600 sells for nearly $137,000. The new SL63 AMG retails near $133,000, while the top-of-the-line SL65 AMG commands a premium close to $192,000. Needless to say, not many customers bargain-shop the SL. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows that a well-equipped SL550 sells at or slightly over MSRP; the same holds true for the other SL models. The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL's resale figures fall well below those of the Porsche 911 Turbo, remain on par with the BMW 650i and Jaguar XK and are measurably higher than the Cadillac XLR.

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