2009 Mercedes-Benz CL Class Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
June 20, 2009

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class doesn't skimp on traditional luxury, and it's the flagship model for technology features in the Mercedes-Benz line.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven several versions of the new Mercedes-Benz CL-Class in order to bring you their expert opinion here in this Bottom Line review. TheCarConnection.com has also researched road tests on the new Mercedes-Benz CL-Class to bring you some of the most useful information on how this luxury coupe measures up.

If you want a coupe with high performance, luxury, elegance, and some of the world's top technology, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is all that. The German auto manufacturer introduces 4Matic all-wheel drive for its 2009 CL550 model.

Because of the negligible gas mileage trade-offs and the year-round traction and stability benefits (on both wet and dry roads) all-wheel drive provides, the systems are becoming increasingly popular. The 2009 CL550 4Matic is identifiable by its 18-inch wheels from the outside, while the inside comes standard with new equipment, including heated and ventilated front seats and the Keyless-Go system.

The CL550 is pushed by a 5.5-liter V-8, making 388 horsepower, that's teamed to a seven-speed automatic. There's a manual shift mode that can be operated without moving your hands off the wheel. The CL-Class's V-8 has plenty of torque to move quickly and handle with surprising agility—thanks to the sophisticated Active Body Control (ABC) system, which controls ride height and suspension firmness and can adjust almost instantaneously for quick maneuvers. The steering, however, is light and doesn't communicate much from the road. Also thanks to ABC, ride comfort is among the smoothest and most settled of any vehicle.

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In addition to the new CL550 are three other coupes. The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL600 is powered by a V-12 engine with 510 hp and 612 pound-feet of torque. Two AMG editions also are sold: a CL63 with a 518-hp V-8 and a CL65 with 604 hp and 738 pound-feet of torque. The CL600 and CL63 AMG have similar power ratings, though they have very different personalities behind the wheel. The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL600 has immense torque, with a quiet, refined experience somewhat like the Bentley Continental, while the CL63 AMG is edgier and more raucous-sounding in everything from its ride to its sharper handling response. The especially exclusive CL65 AMG competes with exotic sports cars without sacrificing the comforts and tech features offered in the other CL-Class models.

The CL series avoids the potential clutter of buttons and switches by integrating the controls of many of the nonessential accessories into Mercedes-Benz's "Intuitive Operating Concept" screen-driven interface. Contrary to the name, some of the features can be hard to find in this system, although it's easier to navigate than BMW's iDrive. Inside, with or without the optional multicontour feature, the front seats are comfortable for even the longest drives, and the backseats are very roomy for a coupe, though entry and exit are difficult. The interior design of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class takes a minimalist approach—with an emphasis instead on rich materials like a mix of attractive wood trim and shiny bits on the dash, as well as suedelike Alcantara elsewhere and supple seat leather.

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class has not been crash-tested, but there's a trio of techno systems designed to reduce the risk of a collision using forward-looking microwave radar. Brake Assist Plus will increase the level of pressure you apply to the brake pedal if it determines you're closing on the car ahead too quickly. Pre-Safe will take other steps, such as tightening seatbelts and preparing the airbags, if it senses a collision is unavoidable. Like other active cruise control systems, Distronic Plus will maintain the speed of traffic ahead—and hold a safe distance from the car immediately in front. But it can also bring the CL to a complete stop in traffic, then start up again when the car ahead begins to move. Blind Spot Assist, which monitors both blind spots and warns the driver whenever a turn signal is activated, is now part of the optional Distronic Plus system. For parking, there are ultrasonic sensors as well as a backup camera with a highlighted display that shows what's in your path as you turn; the system also includes a blind-spot assist feature.

Standard equipment on the base 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL550 includes a hands-free calling system, the Parktronic parking aid, a power rear sunshade, and a 600-watt audio system with memory card slot. Top features on the CL line include multicontour front seats with massage. All 2009 CL models receive the Hold convenience braking feature, as well as new gear shift paddles on the steering wheel and push-pull power window switches as standard equipment.

Also available on the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is a night vision system that bathes the area ahead in infrared light to help spot obstacles in the coming road under some of the darkest conditions.

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