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2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

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Expert Rating

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

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2018 Base CLS 550 Coupe 4dr Rear-Wheel Drive
most popular
Price:   -  From $75,150
2018 Base CLS 550 Coupe 4dr All-Wheel Drive 4MATIC Price:   -  From $77,650
2018 S-Model AMG CLS 63 Coupe 4dr All-Wheel Drive 4MATIC Price:   -  From $108,900


When the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class first hit the market ten years ago, it sent shockwaves through auto design studios across the world by successfully creating a segment out of thin air: the four-door coupe. Before the CLS, every four-door car was considered a sedan, but the long and stylish roofline and minimized B-pillars made the car look like an extended two-door coupe rather than a standard sedan. Remarkably, the idea was accepted almost immediately, and many other manufacturers began offering their own four-door coupes, from Porsche and Aston Martin to Volkswagen and now even Kia.

Today, the CLS continues to define the segment, offering performance and luxury in a very stylish package.

What's New for 2018

Mercedes now offers a rearview camera as standard on all CLS models. A new, optional automatic LED headlight system automatically adjusts light output based upon environmental inputs, switching between 255 different brightness settings based upon measurements made 100 times per second. It also provides cornering lights that use the navigation system to determine if you are in a traffic circle, and camera-controlled adaptive headlights that can illuminate the bend before the driver turns the wheel.

This is the finally year of production for the current CLS-Class. Mercedes introduced a redesigned, third-generation model at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show last November.

Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Choosing Your Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is equipped with a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 that produces a respectable 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque and a 9-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, although Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is an optional extra.

For those who want a CLS-class that is a bit more bonkers, Mercedes-Benz also offers the CLS63 AMG for $109,895. Instead of the meager 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of the standard engine, the CLS63 AMG gets a hand-built 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that sends a whopping 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels by way of a seven-speed, multi-clutch automatic transmission.

The standard CLS returns 18 miles per gallon city, 26 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive. The 4Matic variant drops each of those figures by a digit, while swapping in the 5.5-liter V8 and standard all-wheel drive in the CLS63 lowers the EPA estimates to 16 city, 22 highway, and 18 combined. Driven properly, though, the CLS63 fuel economy will probably be far lower.

Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class


The CLS550 starts at $76,145 (including a $995 destination charge). A 4Matic all-wheel-drive system adds $2,500 to the price tag. Both variants get standard adaptive air suspension that can adjust to both sporty and comfortable driver settings.

Inside, the CLS550 comes standard with leather seats and luxurious wood trim, 14-way heated power front seats, a 14-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, an eight-inch infotainment system with navigation and a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface. It also receives automatic emergency brake assist, and driver attention assist that can warn the driver if they start to become drowsy.

The interior options list is extensive for the CLS550. The standard leather seat upholstery can be upgraded to nicer semi-aniline hides for $1,370, and the sound system can be upgraded to a Bang and Olufsen system for $5,400. The $3,900 Premium Package includes ventilated front seats, a massaging driver seat with active bolstering, the previously mentioned adaptive LED headlight system, keyless entry and push-to-start. There’s also the Wheel Package for $760 and an appearance package called the Night Package for $1,060 – the former adds 18-inch AMG wheels, a manual shift mode for the transmission, and a three-spoke steering wheel, while the latter swaps out chrome exterior trim for black elements. Other options include split-folding rear seats, different steering wheel options, exterior features, and illuminated door seals.

Mercedes-Benz also offer a variety of driver assistance packages on the CLS550, like the $875 Lane Tracking Package that offers blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist and the $1,290 Parking Assist Package that includes a 360-degree camera and automatic parking assistance that will park the CLS550 automatically. There’s also the Driver Assistance Package for $2,250 with radar cruise control and more advanced automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind spot monitoring.

Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class


Starting at $109,895, the CLS63S AMG is not cheap, but it sure is fun. It can sprint to 60 mph in three and a half seconds. For better handling, it's equipped with an AMG-tuned adaptive sport suspension. AMG also offers ultra high-performance ceramic-composite brakes for $8,950, but buyers should keep in mind that the cost to service brakes like these can be extraordinarily high in the future. And unless properly heated, they tend to squeal while braking.

The CLS63 AMG gets it’s own appearance packages and options, like the $5,500 AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package, or the $1,500 AMG carbon fiber engine cover. Both add fancy carbon-fiber styling elements.

Inside, the interior trim choices have a more premium and sportier feel, with the only major option package being the $2,200 Premium Package that includes an electronic trunk closer, ventilated front seats, a massaging driver seat, and keyless entry. The Harmon Kardon sound system can be upgraded to a Bang and Olufson system for $4,550, and the rear seats can be heated for $625. Standard interior features remain largely the same as the CLS550, save for a power rear-sunshade. The CLS63 AMG also has access to the previously mentioned Lane Tracking Package and Driver Assistance package, as well as the 360-degree camera for $800.

CarsDirect Tip

No one needs an AMG. They're absolutely fantastic driving tools, but they're also wildly powerful and occasionally unwieldy because of it. Instead, grab the CLS550 and option it to the moon for one of the classiest driving experiences on the market. Alternatively, wait a year – the 2019 CLS-Class promises to be a major improvement in every important metric over this outgoing model.

Get your price on a Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class »

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Automotive Editor
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Expert Review

Expert Rating

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

author image
Contributing Writer

Starting with a graceful, stunning design, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class dazzles with its balanced handling, luxurious cabin, and sizzling AMG-enabled performance. At the same time, it's hampered by poor fuel economy, a wonky infotainment system, smallish trunk, and tight rear-seat headroom.

Best Value

With a new 2019 model waiting in the wings, pricing for the 2018 CLS-Class begins with the CLS 550, powered by a 402-horsepower, 4.7-liter twin turbocharged V8 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, available in either rear- or all-wheel drive, at a base price of $76,145, and can easily climb to over $150,000 for a fully-optioned AWD AMG CLS 63, which is equipped with a 577-hp, 5.5-liter V8 matched with a seven-speed automatic.

The typical power features are present, plus LED headlights and taillights, keyless entry with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats (memory, lumbar, powered and heated up front), steering wheel paddle shifters, a moonroof, ambient lighting, adaptive air suspension, Bluetooth, and eight-inch infotainment screen. Standard active safety features include a rearview camera, pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive brake assist, and attention assist.

Since the AMG trim is an exercise in overkill, we'd opt for the CLS 550, choose the 4Matic for all-season driving, and toss in a number of optional safety features. Here's how we'd build it:

  • Model: 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS 550 4Matic
  • Engine: 4.7-liter twin turbocharged V8
  • Output: 402 hp / 443 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Nine-speed automatic
  • Fuel Economy: 17 City / 25 Hwy
  • Options: Driver Assistance Package ($2,250, adaptive cruise control, steering assist, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian recognition, rear-end collision detection with front seat occupant crash preparation, blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, front cross-traffic alert and pedestrian detection), Heated Steering Wheel ($250), Split-Folding Rear Seats ($440).
  • Base Price: $78,645 (including a $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $81,585


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

A set of muscular V8 engines paired to advanced automatic transmissions along with a composed ride are the hallmarks of Mercedes' CLS-Class. In either front- or all-wheel drive, the twin turbo V8 CLS 550 provides impressive acceleration. The ride is comfortable enough to lend itself to long stretches of relaxed cruising, but when back roads beckon, the chassis is more than up to the task, courtesy of the standard adaptive shocks. The AMG-tuned CLS 63 AMG turns the wick up even further, offering near-supercar levels of acceleration, going from zero to sixty in just 3.5 seconds. The CLS 63's chassis also kicks handling up a notch courtesy of a wider track, sticky summer tires, and an adaptive suspension tuned by AMG.

Not that it matters much to CLS buyers, but the model's stunning performance comes at the expense (pun intended) of – depending on the model – average to poor fuel economy. RWD CLS 550 models return an EPA-estimated 18 miles per gallon in the city, 26 on the highway, and 21 combined, while AWD lowers those numbers to 17 mpg in the city, 25 on the highway, and 20 combined. As you might expect, the AMG CLS 63 trails those two models with an EPA-estimated 16 mpg in the city, 22 on the highway, and 18 combined.

Interior and Exterior

From its smartly textured grill emblazoned with the three-pointed star, to the arching curve of its aggressively tapered roofline, the CLS is a tour-de-force of styling cues that accentuate its stunning, rear-bias, long hood, short trunk lid design. That sheetmetal is wrapped around a lush and inviting cabin, gracefully sculpted and trimmed in colorful combinations of wood and leather. The supportive front seats adjust 14 ways, offering enough room even for tall occupants, while the sheer number of wood and trim options make the CLS seem more like a Maybach.

The cabin's shortcomings lie with its tight rear seat, small trunk, and awkward infotainment interface. Rated a four-seater, those in back pay the price for the swoopy roofline, which makes ingress and egress difficult. The tallest passengers may have to slouch in order to avoid contact with the roof. Likewise, the 11 cubic feet of trunk space is smaller than a Honda Civic's. Finally, M-B's COMAND interface, which controls the non touch-sensitive eight-inch display, requires users to follow confusing, indirect paths in order to operate phone, navigation, and audio functions – whether through the control knob, voice commands, or steering wheel switches.

The Best and Worst Things

We're attracted to the CLS-Class' gorgeous profile and beautifully-appointed cabin, but are turned off by the cramped rear seat and small trunk.

Right For? Wrong For?

Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Style-conscious buyers will appreciate the bold, graceful design and lush interiors offered by the entire CLS-Class, while enthusiasts will revel in the stunning performance of the AMG CLS 63.

A small trunk, seating for four, and lackluster fuel economy will have eco-friendly families looking elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

Despite a smallish trunk and back seat, poor fuel economy, and a finicky infotainment system, its stunning design, balanced handling, and luxurious cabin place the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class near the top of its class.

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Specs & Features

Overall Crash Safety Rating
Not Available
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
4.7L V-8 / 402 HP / 443 ft.lbs.
9-spd sequential shift control auto w/OD
Drive Type
Fuel Economy - City/Highway/Combined
18 / 26 / 22 Mpg
Passenger Capacity
Bumper to Bumper Warranty
48 Months / 50,000 Miles
Mechanical Specs
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
4.7L V-8 / 402 HP / 443 ft.lbs.
Drive Type
Fuel Economy - City/Hwy/Combined
18 / 26 / 22 Mpg
4-wheel Disc
Front Suspension
Rear Suspension
Independent Multi-link
Spare Tire And Wheel
Compact Steel / Compact
Fuel Tank
21.1 Gal.
Recommended Fuel Type
Premium Unleaded
Average Cost To Fill Tank
Dimensions & Capabilities
Maximum Cargo Volume
15.3 Cu.ft.
Passenger Volume
104 Cu.ft.
Exterior Length
195.0 "
Exterior Width
74.1 "
Exterior Height
55.9 "
Front Headroom
36.9 "
Rear Headroom
36.1 "
Front Legroom
42.1 "
Rear Legroom
35.0 "
Front Shoulder Room
57.1 "
Rear Shoulder Room
56.5 "
Front Hip Room
Rear Hip Room
Curb Weight
4,233 Lbs.
Wheel Base
113 "
Turning Radius
18.5 '
Exterior Features
Door Count
4 Doors
18.0 " Silver Aluminum / 18.0 " Silver Amg Aluminum / 19.0 " / 19.0 " Silver Amg Aluminum / 18.0 " Machined W/painted Accents Amg Aluminum / 19.0 " Machined W/painted Accents Amg Aluminum
Clearcoat Monotone / Matte Monotone / Metallic Monotone
Exterior Mirrors
Dual Heated, Power Remote Driver, Power Remote W/tilt Down Passenger
Grille Moldings
Rear Spoiler
Dual Stainless Steel With Chrome Tailpipe Finish
Interior Features
Passenger Capacity
Seat Trim
Leather / Semi-aniline Leather
Front Seat Type
Bucket / Adaptive Bucket (driver Only)
Heated Front Seats
Driver And Front Passenger Heated-cushion, Heated-seatback
Front Driver Seat Direction Controls
(8-way Power) / (12-way Power)
Front Passenger Seat Direction Controls
(8-way Power)
Front Armrests
(8-way Power) / (12-way Power)
Rear Armrests
Rear Seats
Bucket / 60-40 Bucket
Radio & Infotainment
Comand Siriusxm Am/fm/hd/satellite, Seek-scan
14 Harman/kardon / 15 Bang & Olufsen
Radio Steering Wheel Controls
Apple Car Play
Android Auto
Bluetooth w/ Hands-Free Connectivity
Convenience Features
Steering Wheel Type
Power Telescopic Tilt / Power Telescopic Tilt Style
Climate Control
Cruise Control
Sun Roof
Express Open/close
Rearview Mirror
Auto-dimming Day-night
One Touch Open Window
Front And Rear
Tinted Windows
Vanity Mirrors
Dual Illuminated
Remote Keyless Entry
Keyfob (all Doors)
Power Outlets
Safety Features
Overall Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Overall Front Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Overall Side Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Rollover Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Front Impact Airbags
Driver And Passenger
Driver Side Impact Airbags
Seat Mounted
Knee Airbag
Driver And Passenger
Passenger Side Impact Airbag
Seat Mounted
Rear Side Airbag
Rear Side-impact Airbag
Seatbelt Pretensioners
Front And Rear
Anti-Lock Brakes
4-wheel Anti-lock Brakes (abs)
Forward Collision Warning
Collision Prevention Assist Plus Forward Collision Mitigation
Blind Spot Sensor
Blind Spot Assist Blind Spot / Active Blind Spot Assist Blind Spot
Lane Departure Warning
Active Lane Keeping Assist Lane Departure / Lane Keeping Assist Lane Departure
Autonomous Cruise Control
Hands-on Steering Assist
Pedestrian Detection
Presafe Brake With Pedestrian Recognition Front Pedestrian Detection Prevention
Driver Attention Alert
Attention Assist Driver Attention
Daytime Running Lights
Auto High Beams
Intelligent Highbeam Assist Variable Distance Auto High-beam
Adaptive Headlights
Directionally Adaptive
Parking Sensors
Parktronic W/active Parking Assist Automated
Security Systems
Security System
Panic Alarm
Ignition Disable
Bumper To Bumper Months Miles
48 Months / 50,000 Miles
Major Components Months
48 Months / 50,000 Miles
Included Maintenance Months
Roadside Assistance Months
48 Months / 50,000 Miles
Corrosion Perforation
48 Months / 50,000 Miles
Accessories Months

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