2011 Mercedes-Benz CL550 4Matic

Woah, $127,565. That's Audi R8 money, my friends.

Not that anyone is really going to cross shop this big Merc with an R8. The CL epitomizes what makes Mercedes unique and instantly recognizable from behind the wheel. That includes the light yet precise steering, the comfortable yet controlled ride, and the relaxed throttle that serves up the 4.6-liter V-8's stunning power and torque only when you really ask for it. In other words, a boulevard cruiser in the very best sense. It also lives up to the traditional Mercedes aesthetic -- understated both inside and out and faultless in its quality and execution. For say, $80,000, it would be a fantastic alternative to all the self-consciously sporty luxury coupes on the market. But $127,565? Woah.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

I told friends and family that I was driving a hundred-thousand-dollar Mercedes coupe. Turns out I was driving one that costs 27% more than that, actually, but unlike David Zenlea, this did not for one moment make me think, hey, for that money, I'd rather have an Audi R8. They are not remotely comparable cars. The CL550 is, as it has been for the past decade, a lovely grand touring machine. All-wheel drive is standard with this twin-turbo V-8 (other models are rear-wheel drive). Powertrain performance is pretty much unassailable, although when the car is cold, the transmission hiccups just a bit, but then it's fine once it's warmed up.

Despite the new powertrain, I can't say that I've discerned a huge difference between this car and its predecessor. It's still big and soft but ultimately responds when you need it to. The CL has always been the sort of car that just goes; lots of torque, lots of power, lots of smoothness. That hasn't changed.

The car phone interface is brilliant; the way you access your address book is great. Huge trunk, and actual room for adults in the back seats, at least to drive to dinner or something. Love the lack of a B-pillar in the side glass, which helps make the CL a very good-looking car.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

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The nose looks crisper, but the rear is still as bland as can be. It's the only thing I would change on this wonderful car.

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