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3/4 Front Glamour 2015 Mercedes-Benz SL550

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Price: From $103,582

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Expert's Rating

4.8Excellent | Details

MPG

17 City / 24 Highway
Patrick FrawleyPatrick Frawley, Automotive Editor -

The Mercedes-Benz SL550 continues to set the standard for upscale luxury roadsters, maintaining a tradition that stretches back six decades. Its combination of industry-leading tech, sybaritic comfort and formidable driving performance makes it one of the finest cars available and fully justifies its exclusive price.

What's New for 2015

Mercedes product planners have chosen to leave well enough alone for the SL550 in 2015. The only noteworthy changes involve the standard Harmon-Kardon sound system: the six-CD changer has gone the way of 8-track decks and the speaker count drops from a low-rider-worthy 14 to a still-impressive 11.

Choosing Your Mercedes-Benz SL550

The SL550 holds the middle ground between the new V6-powered SL400 and the slightly unhinged AMG models. A turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 sends a muscular 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission. Fuel consumption is a respectable estimated 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway achieved with a blend of conscientious engineering and focused technology, including an engine stop/start system.

The slightly bulky bodywork wraps around an exceptionally stiff chassis; both are made almost entirely of aluminum. Suspension tuning finds a keen balance between ride comfort, handling and stability. The cabin is pleasantly roomy and supremely well-tailored, and the whole works is topped off by a now-characteristic folding hardtop.

A comprehensive listing of the SL550's standard features would test the browser memory allocation of most personal computers; suffice to say that the SL550 is exceedingly well-equipped. Highlights include seats that are heated, ventilated, include a massage function, and keep your neck warm when driving top-down in brisk weather; active parking assist, which simply dismisses the age-old challenge of parallel parking; the fascinatingly complex COMAND infotainment system; and the endearingly-named Magic Vision Control, which pipes windscreen washer fluid to laser-drilled jets inside the wiper arms.

There are relatively few options or option packages, and they tend to be ambitious in scope:

  • The Driver Assistance Package includes Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control, the Pre-Safe collision prediction and mitigation system, blind spot scanners, and a path-deviation detector which alerts inattentive drivers to the need to keep it between the lines.
  • Night View Assist Plus uses an infrared camera coupled to the driver's information display to scan for pedestrians, deer, or other warm-blooded creatures that may be lingering along the side of the road.
  • The Splitview system allows the passenger to watch a DVD movie while the driver focuses on the road.
  • Active Body Control uses computer-driven hydraulics to continuously adjust suspension damping and body position.
  • For a more traditional performance driving experience, the Sport Wheel Package bolts up a set of big 5-spoke AMG wheels and includes a stylish flat-bottomed steering wheel and enhanced brakes.

Other options include Magic Sky Control, which unfortunately does not actually control the sky; instead, it darkens the glass roof of the hardtop. And if that Harman-Kardon stereo is somehow deemed inadequate, an obsessively tuned Bang & Olufsen BeoSound system (12 speakers, two acoustic "lenses", 900 watts of output) is available and will hopefully suffice.

CarsDirect Tip

Options on an SL are more about personal preference than performing a bottom-line balancing act. Set it up as you see fit. That said, either of the headlining sci-fi-grade options -- Driver Assistance or Active Body Control -- are most appropriate additions to a technological tour de force like the SL550.

Choose your Mercedes-Benz SL550 »

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Used Mercedes-Benz SL-Class in 07095