>> Mercedes Benz SL550, one of the most ostentatious production cars out there. But can the cabin tech keep up with all that pretense? Let's find out.
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Now I can tell you at the outset, this car is more about cabin comfort than about technology acutramon [assumed spelling]. Let me show ya. Navigation is standard. You'd say okay well that's pretty forward, but I don't like this navigation system. That screen is relatively amateurish in it's rendering and resolution. I don't like the way this command system works when it comes to entering a destination and moving around the menus. I can't put my finger on it. I just don't like it and I think it looks coarse and crude. Now let's move on to the entertainment system. Which is audio and a little more, but not quite video. Let me explain. Here's your cd player right up here, this single slot, back behind the driver's seat you'll find the 6 disk part of the cd system. This guy will play audio cd's or MP3 cd's. No iPod adapters available in the SL550, unlike some other Mercedes. You also have no auxiliary jack on this vehicle, unlike some other Mercedes that have a similar looking head unit, but it's not quite the same. We have satellite radio on this guy, that's Sirius, that's standard. AM/FM, weather band. What annoys me on the FM is there's no RDS, radio data system. So you're never gonna see the station name or the track they're playing. Now similar, going through the manual I noticed a dvd video logo, so here's our movie. Let's pop Gone In Sixty Seconds in there and get ready to watch because, we've got this thing in park. I've got the parking brake on, there's the dvd video logo and let's watch a movie. What the bleep, bleep, bleep. To prevent the driver from being distracted, the picture is faded out. I'm in park, the brake's on, the car's not even running. It doesn't show you video. It plays dvd video, but with no picture. You can listen to a movie, that's all. What are they thinking? Now once you get whatever sound you're going to listen to coming out, it does sound good but there's only one audio system on this car. So you better like it. It is a Bose system. Okay, now let's move on to hands free communication. Yes and yes. You have the option to go with the Mercedes cradle system, here it is right here. You'd get an adapter for that to go to your specific phone. It really just works with a dozen or so Motorola phones. And really only five major models. So you gotta be aware of that. Much more compatible would be the Blue Tooth option which is you can also get in this car. But notice this, in the Mercedes manual, buried in here it says, do not use a wireless radio device in this car. It could screw up the engine computer. So they'll sell you Blue Tooth, but they kinda don't want you to use it. Let's move on to the power train. Now this is an SL550, so you know it's got roughly a 5 and a half liter engine, 5.46 to be exact, 32 valve all aluminum V-8, naturally aspirated and then it's got 382 horsepower, ah just a little bit less than that on the foot pounds, goes out through a silky smooth, 7 speed automatic that has a shiftable gate back here on the back side and notice on this car we have keyless go. Hence the button on top of the shifter for start stop. If you get tired of operating all that stuff on the freeway, you can option up disktronic, which is radar cruise control. You tell it how far to follow and it'll take it from there. Here's a switch to change transmission behavior. Comfort or sport. You've also got ABC, that may seem elementary but, it's actually active body control. You can put that in the sport mode or standard and that controls the electro fluid dampers. Shocks that have a different rate depending on how you push this button and how they are electronically modified. You've also got a ride height control that is part of that same system. To raise and lower the ride height of the car. Which brings us to the braking technology of which there's a slew of as well. When the car senses rain, it will occasionally tap the pads to the rotors, just to wick off any water that would keep you from stopping as tightly as you like. When you get into a panic mode, if it senses you lift off the accelerator really fast, it'll preposition the pads closer to the rotor then as well so you get just another millisecond of braking before you hit something. Now this is an SL, so of course the top's a big part of the story. A beautifully integrated retractable hardtop. All metal. Notice our car is optioned up with what the call the panorama roof, glass moon roof and on all the SL's, when you do the top trick, the back light does a 180 as it folds in or comes out of the rear quarter. That's a way to save space when it's tucked and overall, the line on this car is beautiful. Okay, let's price our comely little friend. You start off at about 96 grand right at the base, before your accountant even gets himself off the floor. Then we added about 3000 dollars to get Zenon [assumed spelling] headlights, cornering fog lights, keyless go and ventilated active seats. Another 3 grand will get you disktronic radar cruise and parktronic front and rear bumper sensors. Then you're in another 400 bucks for Blue Tooth or 200 dollars for a cradle and 2000 more for that very cool panorama glass moon roof. So CNET style it's more like 101.
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