KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 5/26/2011
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has always offered buyers impressive levels of performance, luxury and comfort, and that won't change for 2011. With its excellent retractable hard top, the vehicle continues to effectively blend coupe-like driving with the roof in place and open-air motoring with the panels politely stowed beneath the rear trunk deck. Those craving a little more exclusivity can look forward to sampling the new SL550 Night Edition. With the automaker planning to produce just 100 examples of the special edition, it's the ultimate version of the SL550.
You'll Like This Car If...
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is still an attention-grabber. If you like catching more than a few admiring glances while you drive through town, this is the car to have, top up or down. With solid performance to match and world-class driving dynamics, this is the luxury roadster defined.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Mercedes-Benz isn't giving these cars away. Even base models command an MSRP of thousands of dollars more than their closest competitors. Unless you live in a price-is-no-object world, this may not be the car for you.
What's Significant About This Car?
The SL550 Night Edition wears matte-black paint, darker headlights and tail lamps, special 19-inch AMG wheels and painted brake calipers. Inside, chrome accents, premium black leather and unique "arrow" stitching differentiate the model from the more mundane SL-Class offerings. All versions also have an advanced tire-pressure-monitoring system, HD Radio and Sirius Traffic.
The SL-Class provides an amazingly sharp driving experience. Steering, braking and handling are all beautifully exact and up to the task of handling both aggressive driving and emergency maneuvers. That's thanks to plenty of engineering and an unseen arsenal of computer driving aids, capable of altering nearly every vehicle parameter in real time. Active Body Control actually works to level the vehicle in sharp turns and can deploy an integrated rollover protection system in the event of an imminent rollover. With 382 horsepower in base trim, the SL-Class is both powerful and refined.
The retractable hardtop works flawlessly and, when in place, offers a cabin that 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.
The cabin offers all of the high-quality materials and technological wizardry you would expect from a vehicle of this caliber. Nearly everything inside is automated in one form or another and can be custom tailored to fit your every preference. Be warned that systems like the Comand interface are more than a little complicated and may take some time to master, though. Despite the fact that the folding hard top stows behind the seats, there's still plenty of room in the trunk for cargo. Even with the top folded, there's seven cubic feet of space on hand.
The 2011 SL-Class has a classic aesthetic, thanks to proportions borrowed from the hallowed halls of historical automotive design. With its long nose, short trunk deck and rearward-mounted passenger cabin, the vehicle pays homage to some of the most beautiful sports coupes and convertibles ever created. Unlike many retractable hard-top vehicles, the 2011 SL-Class looks as beautiful with its top in place as it does with it stowed. Even with additions like the SLS AMG, the SL-Class remains one of the most attractive vehicles in the Silver Arrow family.
Notable Standard Equipment
Even in base trim, the SL-Class comes loaded with plenty of standard gear. Buyers will find dual-zone climate control, an illuminated keyless entry fob, hard-drive-based navigation, Bluetooth hands-free phone and an excellent harman/kardon 510-watt sound system. In addition, every SL-Class comes with a number of standard safety features, including an automatic rollover protection system and frontal and side-impact air bags.
Notable Optional Equipment
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL550 is available with an optional Trim Package that includes Nappa leather and wood accents throughout the cabin. A Premium Package includes keyless start, excellent ventilated seats and an electronic trunk closer. Other options include a Wheel Package, automatic cruise control and Parktronic park assist.
Under the Hood
The SL550's 5.5-liter V8 is the best choice for mere mortals, offering more than acceptable power at a (relatively) good price. Speed freaks, thrill seekers and millionaires will no doubt opt for the supercharged SL63 AMG or the twin-turbo SL65 AMG, both of which offer big horsepower figures but with a significant difference in low-end torque.
382 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
391 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22
6.3-liter V8 Supercharged
518 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
465 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19
6.0-liter V12 Twin-Turbo
604 horsepower @ 4800 rpm
738 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2000-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class starts over $103,000, but there's an additional federal $1,300 gas-guzzler tax. Some quick math puts the entry fee at just shy of $105,000 for the base SL550. Adding any options to the vehicle will see that number quickly increase. Those with the means to opt up to the SL65 AMG can expect to see a price over $202,000 including destination and a hefty $2,600 gas-guzzler tax.