The 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL550 is a beautiful car, both inside and out. With its curvaceous profile, bold front nose, pronounced fenders, and flared rear wheel arches, it boasts some of the most elegantly beaten sheet metal on the road.
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The CL550's infrared Night View Assist is designed to help give the driver a better idea of obstacles in the road after dark. It is activated with a dedicated switch to the left of the steering wheel.
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The audio system also provides detailed ID3-tag information for each individual track. In addition to MP3 discs, the audio system can handle DVD Audio discs, but WMA-encoded discs are not accepted.
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With net power of 382 horsepower and net torque of 391 pound-feet, the CL550 can get itself from zero to 60mph in just 5.4 seconds--no mean feat for a car with a curb weight of 4,360 pounds. Like many of Mercedes' high-end 2007 model year cars, the CL550 comes with a seven-speed, driver-adaptive transmission, which apparently learns the driving style of whoever is behind the wheel, adjusting the timing of up- and downshifts accordingly.
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A walnut panel folds away to reveal the CL550's six-disc CD changer. The CL550's audio system is very impressive. The changer handles regular Red Book CDs as well as MP3-encoded discs.
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Installing oneself in the cabin of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL550 is like getting into a tailor-made suit; the perforated leather seats exhale as you snuggle into them, and the hand-polished burled walnut trim glints from the center stack, door sills, and steering wheel.
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All of the switch gear in the CL550 is solid and well-positioned. On each door, a bank of chrome-trimmed controls provide a means of adjusting the 14-way power seats, while dedicated buttons let you set the seats to one of three memory positions and one of six heated- or cooled temperatures.
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One of the most innovative safety technologies on the CL550 is the as-standard Pre Safe system, which works by monitoring data from the car's braking and electronic stability systems. If the systems suggest that the car is getting out of control, the car automatically adjusts a number of interior settings to minimize the effects of any potential impact: measures include adjusting the driver's and front passenger seats for more effective airbag deployment, inflating the seat's outboard side bolsters, and closing the windows and sunroof.
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Rather than an analog speedometer, the Mercedes-Benz CL550 makes use of high-resolution display in the instrument panel, which can be used to display either a virtual speedometer or an image from Night View Assist camera.
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The 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL550 represents the best that the German automaker has to offer. With an arsenal of entertainment, performance, and safety technologies, it very nearly justifies its six-figure price tag.
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When playing files from MP3 discs, the audio system instantly indexes all the tracks on the disc, making them available in alphabetical list form on the LCD screen.
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Night View Assist use beams of infrared light from projectors in the car's headlights to illuminate up to 500 feet of the road ahead. The resulting scene is captured by an infrared camera mounted near the rear-view mirror, which then creates a grayscale image of the road ahead and sends it to the high-resolution display in the CL550's instrument panel.
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As part of the Premium II package, the CL550 get a sophisticated back-up camera system, which can be calibrated for either parallel or longitudinal parking.
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However, we found that the onscreen guidelines were less than useful in trying to gauge distance and direction--mainly because the box had a tendency to disappear as soon as the steering wheel was turned more than half a rotation.
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The maps and menus on the CL550's wide-screen display appear particularly bright, thanks to the screen's positioning deep in the dash and shading courtesy of a leather-stitched cowl. Like that in the S550, the CL550's navigation system features a 20GB hard drive, which enables it to provide lightning-quick response and refresh times for inputs and zooming in or out.
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Satellite radio stations are displayed using a very intuitive virtual dial screen, enabling drivers to see the stations in the proximity of the current channel.
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All sources play back via the CL550's 600-watt, 11-speaker digital surround sound system, which delivers startlingly clear and crisp audio reproduction.
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From the inside, the view is arguably even better--especially with the windows down, as the lack of a B pillar gives the CL550 an open-air feel.
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