2009 Mercedes-Benz CL550

The CL-class sits at the top of the Mercedes-Benz model lineup, with a base price greater than that of the flagship S-class. For 2009, the CL550 gets new tech features and Mercedes-Benz's all-wheel-drive system.

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Infrared and radar

The CL550 shoots infrared and radar beams, with the former being used for the night-vision system, and the latter enabling adaptive cruise control and precollision systems.

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Horsepower

The CL550 gets power from a 5.5-liter V-8, an engine launched in 2005 for the S-class. In the CL550, it puts out 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque.

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Design

The design of the CL550 is striking, with a pillarless cabin helping give the roofline a seductive curve. The sides are well-sculpted, with prominent fenders.

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All-wheel-drive

Mercedes-Benz's all-wheel-drive system, 4Matic, comes standard on the new CL550. It uses a multiplate clutch in the center differential, which is supposed to perform like a limited slip.

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Cabin materials

As we would expect from a Mercedes-Benz in this price range, the cabin is well-appointed with leather, wood, and metal.

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Steering

The steering wheel is nice and thick, but we felt the steering was a bit overpowered, which is fine for a luxury vehicle, but limits road-feel

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iPod integration

We had the optional iPod kit in this CL550, which shuffles all songs on a connected iPod. The display on the speedometer is the only interface, merely letting you skip back and forth among tracks.

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Bluetooth and cabin interface

We would have liked to use this keypad for phone calls, but the car's Bluetooth system wasn't compatible with any of our phones. You can also see the metal knob, the basis for the COMAND cabin tech interface.

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Traffic reports

The maps in the navigation system have great resolution, and Mercedes-Benz adds traffic reporting as a new feature in the CL550. Unfortunately, it doesn't dynamically route around traffic incidents.

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Multi-contour seats

One of our favorite features, massage seats, was present in the CL550. These seats also have active bolstering, which keeps you in place during hard cornering.

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Six disc changer

The audio system includes this six-disc changer, which can play DVDs and CD-RWs.

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MP3 CDs

The interface for MP3 CDs lets you browse through folders from a disc. The Harman Kardon audio system sounds very good.

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Adaptive cruise control

The Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control lets you set your maximum speed, and the car will match speeds with slower traffic ahead.

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