New 2018 MercedesBenz CLS Sedan New 2018
MercedesBenz CLS Sedan

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

Think of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS as an opulent “un-sedan.” The German luxury automaker calls the CLS a coupe, but in reality it’s a 4-door car with a sleek and sloping coupe-like profile. Mercedes was among the first to set the trend of crafting a vehicle with sedan-like proportions and accommodations but with coupe-like style. Since its debut nearly 15 years ago, rivals such as the Audi A7, Porsche Panamera and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe have arrived bearing their own fresh twists on the theme. This year marks the end of the 2nd-generation CLS. An all-new version -- the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS -- is about to arrive with even more style, the latest technology, and more usability with seating for five vs. the current model’s four.

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You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a large Mercedes-Benz luxury car that sets itself apart with individualistic style, a standard V8 engine and a dramatic sense of gravitas, the Mercedes-Benz CLS could be the ticket. An all-new version is just around the corner, but if you’re set on this one’s design and 4-passenger seating setup, get one while you still can.

You May Not Like This Car If...

A little patience will pay off in the form of the all-new, 3rd-gen 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS that will bring a wealth of fresh technology, amenities and class. If you value practicality as much as design, the Audi A7 and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe boast far more -- and far more usable -- cargo space thanks to a liftback design vs. the CLS’s smallish trunk.

What's New for 2018

The 2018 Mercedes CLS marks the last model year of this generation. An all-new version, the 2019 CLS, is just around the corner. It will feature new engine choices, including a high-performance Mercedes-AMG variant (reviewed here).

Driving It

Driving Impressions

With a 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 pulsating under the hood, the Mercedes-Benz CLS is a surprising sleeper. Other drivers may just think they’re looking at a big and classy -- but not all that sporty -- luxury car. They’d be wrong. Mash the pedal and this big Mercedes hustles from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. That’s sports-car fast, and its 400-plus horsepower will easily get you up the freeway quicker than the majority of other vehicles on the road. If you somehow still need more potency, look to the separately reviewed Mercedes-AMG CLS63 S, which reaches the 60-mph milestone in a physics-defying 3.5 seconds. We’ve found Mercedes’ 9-speed transmission a better operator than others on the market, with extra help coming in the fuel-economy department. Standard Airmatic air suspension and adjustable dampers help the CLS be a chameleon of the road, changing from a comfortable cruiser to sportier handler at the touch of a button. Still, be prepared for a somewhat stiff ride overall, a trait that can aggravate on commutes riddled with poor road surfaces.

Favorite Features

ACTIVE SAFETY FEATURES
The 2018 Mercedes CLS may be in its last model year in current form, but it still touts impressive safety systems. Options range from systems that steer the car back in lanes should it drift, to another that scans the road ahead for cars or pedestrians entering your path from an intersection.

MASSAGING FRONT SEATS
Called the Active multi-contour driver seat, this optional perch offers enhanced adjustability for various body types, a semi-creepy system that inflates side bolsters to hug your body in turns (it’s defeatable), and our favorite, a massage setting. At only $660, it’s an inexpensive masseuse.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The cabin of this soon-to-be-outgoing CLS may look dated compared to the newest E-Class or S-Class sedan, but it’s still polished and sophisticated by most other standards. There is abundant leather and a choice of wood trims, a prominent 8-inch digital display in the middle of the dash, and thickly padded and highly adjustable front seats. While the upcoming next-gen CLS will have seating for five, this current version keeps its hallmark 4-passenger capacity, with a pair of sculpted seats in back. At only 11 cubic feet, the trunk is on the small side. If you plan to carry long and/or bulkier items, opt for split-folding rear seats, a $440 option.

Exterior

Design, specifically a melding of a 4-door sedan with a coupe-like profile, has been the CLS’s automotive manifesto. While there are plenty of imitators now, it was a radical concept a decade and a half ago when the first CLS was born, and the design still holds up today. The dashing grille and long hood are certainly pretty, but it’s at the rear where the 2018 Mercedes CLS is most interesting. The roofline tapers into the nub of a trunk like a metallic waterfall, while prominent rear fender flares portray a muscular charisma.

Notable Standard Equipment

As expected of a $75,000-plus German luxury car, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 comes out the gate very well equipped. Standard goods include a turbocharged V8 engine, leather interior, heated and 14-way-adjustable front seats, sunroof, Airmatic air suspension, dual-zone climate control, and universal garage-door opener. The CLS’s infotainment system bundles an 8-inch display, navigation, a 14-speaker/610-watt harman/kardon audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Standard safety systems include the Collision Prevention Assist Plus system that can anticipate a crash and automatically apply the brakes at speeds up to 65 mph, and the Attention Assist that monitors for driver drowsiness.

Notable Optional Equipment

All-wheel drive (AWD) can be had in place of the standard rear-wheel drive (RWD) by opting for the 4Matic version of the CLS. A wide range of options is bundled into packages and includes everything from a system that helps parallel-park the car to blind-spot monitoring, power-operated trunk, ventilated front seats, and driver-assist systems like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. Audiophiles will appreciate the available 1,200-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system. Also available is an in-car Wi-Fi system.

Under the Hood

While a 6-cylinder was offered in the past (and will be again in the form of a powerful new version with the 2019 Mercedes CLS), this soon-to-depart version heads out with a V8 under the hood. Though older, it’s still a powerhouse. Mercedes’ 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 is good for 402 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. (The more extreme Mercedes-AMG CLS packs 577 ponies). The CLS in standard form is rear-wheel drive, while traction-enhancing all-wheel drive is available in what Mercedes calls “4Matic.” The CLS550 coupe uses a 9-speed automatic transmission as standard. In an effort to save fuel, the Mercedes CLS uses an engine start/stop system that cuts power at idle. It’s normal for the engine to turn off at stoplights, but if you find restarts bothersome -- as we do -- the system can be turned off via the Eco button next to the hazard lights.

4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8
402 horsepower @ 5,000-5,750 rpm
443 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg (RWD), 17/25 mpg (AWD)

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Pricing Notes

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $76,000. Opting for the all-wheel-drive 4Matic version raises that cost to nearly $79,000. With options, these prices can inflate quickly and steadily. Check the boxes and you can breeze by the $90,000 mark. With their low $70,000 starting prices, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A7 undercut the CLS’s starting price, while the Porsche Panamera, at over $85,000, begins higher. Before buying your stylish 4-door luxury coupe, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what other people in your area are paying for theirs. The Mercedes CLS’s resale value is expected to be about average, and in line with rivals like the Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera.

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