The CLS is offered in two models for 2017. The CLS550 features a twin-turbo 4.7L V8 that makes 402-horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, while the AMG CLS63 boasts a 5.5L turbocharged V8 making 550 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque.
While the CLS550 comes with rear-wheel-drive as standard, 4MATIC all-wheel drive is optional, while the CLS63 only comes with 4MATIC. A 9-speed automatic transmission is the only available transmission on all CLSes. The 550 returns an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined in the rear-wheel-drive model and 20 mpg combined in the 4MATIC.
The CLS works hard to blend performance with luxury, and includes strong insulation and vibration damping. Nicely contoured front seats will provide great long-distance comfort, and the AMG CLS63 upgrades to even more supportive sport seats all around. Active ventilated seats are available to keep occupants warm or cool and a driver's multi-contour seat inflates to provide special support as well as help hold the driver in place when cornering.
On the CLS63, in addition to the sport seats, there are special AMG door sill panels and brushed stainless-steel pedals, along with expanded leather trim. There's also a special E-Select shift lever, as well as a "Race" mode that can record lap times.
All CLS models include COMAND, the Mercedes-Benz screen-based interface, for audio, climate and navigation functions. Also of note is the available Harman/Kardon Logic 7 surround-sound system, which features 14 speakers, a 610-watt amplifier and a subwoofer for a studio-quality experience.
Both of the CLS models include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, a Distronic Plus cruise control system that lets drivers follow at a safe distance, and a Pre-Safe emergency braking system that can spot slowdowns ahead and bring the car to a full stop. Attention Assist studies movements of the steering wheel to spot times when drivers might be falling asleep, sounding a chime and displaying a coffee-cup symbol. Rain-sensing wipers even feature a heated washing system and headlight cleaners. Active Park Assist will actually steer the vehicle into a parking space at speeds below 7 mph.
During a week with the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS450 4Matic, it's difficult to find much to grumble about. The new, third-generation model is beautiful inside and out, packs a hearty helping of technology and is brilliant to drive. That's not without some caveats, of course. But in general -- and especially if you'll never use those back seats -- the CLS450 is a great luxury cruiser.
The CLS' steeply raked roofline is without a doubt one of its most appealing design traits -- certainly more so than the conventionally shaped E-Class with which it shares a platform. However, that's of little consolation to the people who actually have to sit in the back seats. They complain about the compromised headroom and oddly-shaped door openings that make getting in and out a chore. I know Mercedes technically calls the CLS a coupe, but if it's got four doors, people will assume it's made to carry people.
With that out of the way, did I mention that the CLS is a looker? It's cleaner and more mature than its predecessor, with a front fascia I'll call "AMG Lite." If there's a sore spot to the outside design, it's the rear end -- given how sharp the front is, the CLS' rump looks a little soft by comparison.
The Good The new CLS boasts sharp exterior styling, an excellent interior and potent mild hybrid drivetrain.
The Bad Steeply raked rear roofline compromises back seat headroom and creates oddly-shaped door openings.
The Bottom Line A potent and gorgeous luxury cruiser.
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