2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Review
This review was written when the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was new.
The Mercedes-Benz CLS is a car you buy because you fall in love with it. It offers less practicality than most of its competition -- but to some shoppers, it's simply beautiful. It combines a luxurious cabin and a completely unique profile. The back seat of the CLS is no place for adults, and the trunk offers less usable space than most cars at this price point.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS is intended to offer the comfort of a full-size luxury sedan and the performance of a sport coupe. It almost does both, the automotive press says, but is perfect at neither. Automobile Magazine sums it up: "If you wanted practicality or rear-seat room or a deep trunk in your Benz, you'd buy an E-class. The CLS isn't about sensible. It's about sensual. It's about emotional."
The CLS doesn't have any true competitors, but other Super Luxury Cars have been gradually growing sportier in appearance and performance since it first arrived. A new 2010 Jaguar XJ, for instance, looks similarly sexy. If you're sold on Mercedes but need a functional backseat, its S-Class cousin may be a more practical alternative. A few competitors, like the newly redesigned BMW 7-Series, outperform it.
For 2009, the CLS has seen a mild styling refresh. A new two-bar grille, larger side mirrors, reshaped taillights, and new trapezoidal exhaust tips make the look more aggressive. Bluetooth connectivity is now standard, and a new version of Mercedes' COMAND driver interface has been introduced.
The Mercedes-Benz CLS is available in two trims: the standard CLS550, or the high-performance AMG CLS63. The AMG model is reviewed separately. The CLS550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 delivering 382 horsepower.
- "Compared to the Mercedes E-Class on which it's based, the CLS trades svelte styling for typical sedan functionality--and a $9000 price premium. Furthermore, it lacks the E-Class' available all-wheel drive. But for well-heeled buyers who appreciate its dramatic design and can live with limited rear-seat room and reduced cargo versatility, the CLS won't likely disappoint." -- Consumer Guide
- "Despite the fact that none of the dirty parts have changed noticeably, we were invited to flog new CLSs on autobahns and Austrian switchbacks alike, so that I might report with no equivocation that the larger mirrors provide excellent visibility and no wind noise, the three-spoke steering wheels command helms that are paragons of accuracy if not road feel, and that the trapezoidal tailpipes didn't alter a note of the sweet sonorous exhaust music." -- Motor Trend
- "[The CLS is] about the kind of good looks that make you feel like a junior-high kid all over again, sweating and stammering in the presence of true beauty. We'll take two." -- Car and Driver
- "This new Benz is a serious piece of couture. Trendy, even. A stoic and sensible E-Class chassis stepping out in the vehicular equivalent of Versace hip boots. You can't not look at it." -- Motor Trend
- "Judging the CLS500 based solely on the need for a roomy 4-door doesn't make sense. Wanting a pure performance coupe? It still won't satisfy. Admittedly, this new Mercedes isn't for everyone. But the CLS appeals to the dare-to-be-different individual who takes pride in shaking up the norm a bit. And that's a good thing." -- Road and Track