2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 17, 2008

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class turns the E-Class into a dramatic four-door "coupe," with better lines but worse visibility and softer handling.

TheCarConnection.com’s car experts studied road tests of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com’s editors also drove the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and have contributed driving impressions and details where they help you to make a better decision.

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is dubbed a "four-door coupe" by the German automaker. The sedan joined the Benz lineup in 2006, and it's derived from the mechanicals that underpin the more traditional E-Class sedan. It's a lovely shape, inside and out, and seems pointed directly at Jaguar's full-size sedans. The interior in particular is slathered in wood trim.

Two engines are available in the CLS. The base CLS550 has a 5.5-liter V-8 with 382 horsepower. Teamed with a slick-shifting seven-speed automatic, it gets 14/21 mpg fuel economy--not a stunning achievement. The 507-horsepower CLS63 AMG is lightning quick but even less efficient at 12/18 mpg.

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With a well-balanced rear-drive chassis and an air suspension, the base Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has softer reflexes than the typical E-Class Benz. The ride is almost pillowy and the steering a little slow to respond; the AMG version tightens it up dramatically. In the original form, the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has an appealing luxury feel that's the opposite of the taut, tightly drawn handling of a BMW 5-Series, for example.

Interior room is at a premium compared with the tall-roofed E-Class. The heated and ventilated front seats sit low, and the higher dash cuts down on visibility, as do the thick rear pillars. The rear bucket seats are quite comfortable, but the CLS's bodywork draws in close, making the backseat feel claustrophobic, especially in dark colors.

Both versions of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class get traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, and a PRE-SAFE collision preparation system that senses if an accident is about to happen and tightens seatbelts before impact.

All Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class sedans have a premium Harmon/Kardon audio system with six-disc CD changer, standard satellite radio, and an interface for the Apple iPod.

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