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2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Overview

Matthew Pilgrim
Automotive Editor - January 20, 2021

What's New

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class receives technological updates where it matters the most with the latest Mercedes infotainment system, a touchscreen, a large digital gauge cluster display, a surround-view camera system, and improved automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Choosing Your Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

The CLS is available in two trim levels: CLS 450 and AMG CLS 53. Pricing starts at $71,295 including destination for the base model and climbs to $82,545 for the AMG variant.

Engine Choices

The CLS-Class is available with two distinctly different characters of the same engine. The CLS 450 starts with a mild-hybrid 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder motor. The AMG CLS 53 version is massaged to increase output.

Engine TypeHorsepowerTorqueFuel Economy (Combined)
3.0L Turbo 6-Cylinder362 hp369 lb-ft26 mpg
AMG 3.0L Turbo 6-Cylinder429 hp384 lb-ft23 mpg

Helping both CLS models jump off the line is a tightly-geared nine-speed transmission (enhanced in the AMG trim) and an integrated motor that is nestled between the engine and transmission and provides 184 lb-ft of instantaneous torque. This motor also helps on the efficiency front by enabling engine-off gliding and lighting-fast engine restarts.

The CLS 450 comes standard with rear-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is a $2,500 upgrade. The AMG version gets standard AWD.

Passenger and Cargo Capacity

Mercedes’ coupe advertising should lead to dampened expectations when it comes to overall interior roominess. The CLS is equipped with five seats but is reasonably limited to four adult passengers. The CLS offers a generous 41.9 inches of rear leg room, but rear passengers will immediately take notice of the lack of headroom – just 35.9 inches.

Cargo volume is also severely compromised by the sleek styling and boxed body construction that enable just 11.9 cubic feet of trunk space. At least the rear seats can be folded for longer items. The similarly-sized Audi A7 offers a bit more head room and a lot more cargo space from its hatchback design.

Safety Features

The CLS-Class is equipped with a basic level of active safety features. Automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera system, and a driver attention monitor are standard. The AMG model also gets an automated parking system.

The rest are bundled away in the $1,950 Driver Assistance Package. This includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane change assist, and much more.

Connectivity

Mercedes’ new AI-based MBUX infotainment system is new for 2021 and can recognize normal speech commands so speaking like a robot to your car is finally a thing of the past. Its various functions are controlled through a 12.3-inch touchscreen, while a trackpad and menu buttons are located on the center console for no-look operation. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, navigation, and HD radio are standard, while two USB-C ports handle recharging duties.

The AMG model gets a Burmester audio system, a wireless charing pad, and satellite radio.The wireless charging pad is a standalone option on the CLS 450 for $200. A head-up display is also available on both for $1,100.

CLS 450 - From $71,295

The CLS 450 handsomely defines the four-door coupe motif with a high arching waistline, low roofline, and frameless windows while chrome exterior trim accents, 19-inch wheels, LED exterior lighting, and AMG bodywork also create a sporty and high-tech impression as well.

Inside, leather seating, an MB-Tex-wrapped upper dash, turbine-styled air vents with integrated ambient lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster display give off a distinctive and luxurious ambiance.

There are five different Nappa leather seating color combinations ($1,370) which can be enhanced further with the Designo premium leather ($5,500) that extends to the upper dash panel with contrast stitching and includes the AMG Line package (otherwise $970) with its flat-bottom steering wheel, black headliner and unique 19-inch AMG wheels.

Additional luxurious touches include the Warmth and Comfort Package ($1,050) which brings heated front armrests, a heated steering wheel, and rapid heating for the front seats; the $1,320 active multi-contour massaging front seats; the $1,100 Acoustic Package that adds sound-deadening material and thicker glass; the $350 Air Balance Package that purifies the cabin air; and $550 soft-closing doors.

AMG CLS 53 - From $82,545

The sporting nature of the AMG model extends beyond its extended lower bodywork, quad exhaust outlets, a unique grille, and standard 19-inch wheels. The chassis has also been fitted with AMG-tuned air suspension, AMG-tuned dynamic chassis settings, high-performance brakes, and a sport exhaust system.

Inside, a sport steering wheel with an available integrated AMG Drive Unit ($400), more deeply bolstered seats, available carbon-fiber trim ($2,850), and a track performance recorder $250 clearly set the stage for its intended mission.

Compare CLS-Class Trims Side-By-Side

CarsDirect Tip

Of the two 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class models, the AMG CLS 53 adds an exciting level of performance that requires little compromise for not too steep of a price increase.

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Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class By Year