Review: 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS500

Save for inveterate traditionalists or those who simply can't -- or won't -- live with its compromised rear seat space and the extra effort needed to access it, the CLS-Class should quicken the heartbeat of nearly everyone else who can ante up the price of entry. Something special happens when you inject a magnum load of pure sex appeal into any vehicle -- particularly one with this kind of distinguished family pedigree. Simply put, slipping behind the wheel of a CLS has that all-too-rare ability to make any kind of driving seem more enjoyable.

While clearly destined to impact sales of its more conservative E-Class platformmate, this sensational four-door promises to make its presence felt even more acutely in Audi, BMW, and most assuredly, Jaguar showrooms. Total ownership costs figure to be in line with E500, which should rank it better than average. While the Lexus LS430 claimed honors as IntelliChoice's 2005 Best Overall Value leader in the Luxury class, the CLS500 brings a level of visual and dynamic distinction that may well trump any mere dollar-denominated considerations.

Pricey but passionate, the new CLS-Class is a stunning concept with stunning execution.

What's Not

  • Somewhat pricey
  • Intimidating controls
  • Rear access/egress

    What's Hot

  • Sensual style
  • Confident handling
  • Impressive powertrains

    With dynamic flair to match its dramatic lines, the CLS-Class is a scintillating four-door sedan that thinks--and acts--like a spacious, four-place sport coupe.

    Major packages include the AMG Sport (AMG lower bodywork and wheels, performance tires, steering-wheel shift buttons), Lighting (Bi-Xenon corner-following headlamps with washers, corner-sensing fog lamps), Comfort (Active ventilated/heated front seats--auto-adjusting Drive Dynamic on CLS55--power rear window shade), Entertainment (12-speaker harman/kardon surround sound system, 6-disc CD changer, COMAND integrated controls), and Premium (Comfort plus Entertainment Packages and DVD-based navigation). Run-flat tires and unique designo paint/interior treatments also are available.

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