2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Review


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2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Overview

One of the first four-door sedans to incorporate the sloping coupe-like roofline that has since been imitated by competitors like the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe and Audi A7, the Mercedes-Benz CLS has been in production since 2005, with the current second generation introduced in 2010. Changes to the 2016 model are for the most part minimal, but its big news comes in the form of a new automatic transmission. 2015 cars were equipped with a 7-speed automatic, but Mercedes is upping the ante for 2016 with a transmission that has nine forward gears. It might seem excessive, and you might think that you’d feel the gears change constantly while driving, but transmission technology has come a long way over just the last 10 or so years, and it’s probably safe to say that shifting will be quite seamless--even with nine speeds. Using so many gears in the transmission also enhances fuel economy, something that big, heavy luxury sedans like the CLS can always use help with. Other changes for 2016 include full LED headlamps, a USB port in the interior, and the new “Night Package”, which includes a gloss black grille, bigger wheels, chromed exhaust tips, tinted glass, and black accents.

At the bottom of the CLS lineup is the CLS400, which starts at $66,900. Its 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 produces 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, and the car will do 20 mpg city/30 highway--although all CLSs require premium fuel. The CLS400 4MATIC is the same basic car, but with four-wheel drive, and it returns 19 mpg city/26 highway and starts at $69,400. The CLS550, starting at $74,100, gets a 4.6-liter 402-hp V-8 and adds voice recognition audio and adjustable active air suspension. It too comes in a 4MATIC version, which starts at $76,600. The range-topping CLS63 AMG S-Model breaks into six-figure territory at $107,800, adding an active parking system, stainless steel exhaust, a rear spoiler, a rear sunshade, and adaptive headlights. The biggest change to the AMG version, however, is its 577-hp 5.5-liter V-8.

The interior of the CLS has the quality fit and finish that you'd expect from a Mercedes, along with plenty of high-tech convenience features. The infotainment system can do Google searches and Yelp reviews, it features location-based traffic and weather updates, and you can even download a smartphone app that will remotely lock, unlock, or locate the car for you should you find yourself lost in in a monstrously large parking garage. Convenience options include a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system, a heated steering wheel, massaging front seats, and the fascinating infrared night view system that Mercedes debuted about five years ago on a few of the company’s more expensive models. One options bundle especially worth considering is the “Premium 1 Package”, which adds heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive headlights, a rearview camera, a power trunk, and a power rear sunshade.

Several important safety features debuted for the 2015 CLS, including an industry-first Attention Assist system that measures the driver’s steering patterns and suggests pulling over when it detects drowsiness. A Lane Tracking Package includes lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems, and a Driver Assistance Package combines the Lane Tracking Package with an adaptive cruise control system. The Parktronic Package, meanwhile, includes front and rear parking sensors and an automatic parking system.

An attractive, fast, comfortable, and safe mid-size sedan, the CLS has shown that Mercedes can build a genuinely sexy-looking four-door automobile. For a time, it was in a bit of a class of its own, but for several years now it’s had stiff competition from the other German companies in the game, namely Audi’s A7, BMW’s 6-Series Gran Coupe, and Porsche’s Panamera. If no longer a standout, however, the CLS remains a desirable option for buyers in its market segment.


Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a 1969 Lynx Formula Vee. After receiving two degrees in history, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.

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