2009 Mercedes Benz CL550 4Matic

Based on the notes from my colleagues, you'd think this CL is a suitable replacement for a pack of sled dogs. That's not quite true. I drove this car for a weekend and couldn't believe it had the 4matic system. The problem is all-season tires are really only three-season tires in places that get snow. I (accidentally) had this car sideways on several occasions because the rear bias is so strong and the Continentals were no match for falling snow. I don't mind the 4matic system being standard, but it's not going to excuse you from buying a set of snow tires if you plan on taking this car to a ski resort. I'm sure those European cars Mr. DeMatio tested were equipped with proper winter rubber (as virtually all European cars seem to have in the winter) while climbing the mountain.

Still, like Evan, I prefer the CL550 to the CL63. There's an air of dignity and grace about this car that make you feel like attending a black-tie affair each time you slip behind the wheel, and the bark of an AMG with the 6.2-liter engine doesn't quite fit this car's character. And, as he said, this 550 never leaves you wanting for power.

My absolute favorite part of the CL is the incredible sound insulation. Through loads of engineering (and probably a little magic) Mercedes is able to remove the B-pillar from this giant coupe and there is virtually no exterior noise penetrating the cabin. This is the sort of touch that keeps Mercedes above all the other luxury car players in my book. BMWs may be a little more involving for the driver in a 3-series class, but if you want a real luxury car Mercedes is a clear choice for the larger classes.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

New Car Research

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