2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

Matt Tierney

The three-and-a-half-hour drive went quickly as we were comfortably ensconced in the CLS's luxurious cabin. The ergonomics are excellent, with two cupholders in perfect arm's reach for front-seat passengers, an easy-to-use climate control system with two round dials (one for the driver, one for the passenger) and buttons to control fan speed, the Comand dial located just rearward of the cupholders, and a center bin big enough to hold bulky items such as wallets, sunglass cases, and cell phones. We were happy to find that the seats were cooled as well as heated, since we were traveling at the hottest part of the day in 90-plus-degree temperatures. The ride was comfortable and the CLS was unflappable as we cruised at an average speed of 75-80 mph.

Trunk space in the CLS is quite good for a longish trip (15.3 cubic feet). We managed to fit two golf bags, a roller bag, a soft-sided bag, and a couple of other assorted odds and ends (shoes, grocery bag). Later in the weekend, we were able to fit 3 golf bags in there. We also discovered that the rear seats fold down, which further increases carrying capacity.

When I got into the car it had a little more than a half tank of gas. I filled it with gas in Coopersville, about 175 miles into my 600 miles, and didn't fill it again until I was back in Ann Arbor (425 miles later) with a quarter of a tank still showing. According to the trip computer, I averaged 28 mpg, which is a full 4 mpg above the EPA estimates.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

In my opinion, the CLS very well could be the archetype of Mercedes-Benz styling. But while its low-slung roof and sharp lines are appealing, the car's sculpting is only half of the equation. Its powertrain makes up the rest.

The 4.6-liter V-8, with a pair of turbos strapped on for good measure, that's mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission turns this rolling piece of art into any number of cliches. Beauty and the Beast. Jessica and Roger Rabbit. Natalie Portman and that guy who played Thor. Stunning beauty cuddled up with greasy grunt. Get on the throttle, the engine starts to burble, the turbos begin to spool, the seatbelt snugs to your chest, and the front end lifts up as the rear hunkers down. It may not be a supercar, but it's no slouch.

Drive slowly and you feel like you're in Jay-Z's entourage. It's easy to sound like you are too, thanks to a Harman/kardon surround-sound system that comes standard at a base price of $72,175.

I think Evan put it perfectly when he said that shelling out 23 stacks go from the CLS550 to the CLS 63 probably isn't the best idea. How could this car get much better? Guess we'll just have to wait until Mercedes sends over a CLS 63 to see if it can prove its worth.

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

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