2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
April 22, 2014

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS retains its fashion-forward look, while adding efficiency and, in AMG form, even more impressive performance.

Well-rounded and luxurious, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class ranges from a stylish cruiser to a stunning performer, and most stops between. Only minimal changes have been made since the new CLS-Class was introduced in 2012, but then you don't mess with success.

Sharing its oily bits with the E Class, but with a more athletic, coupe-like silhouette, the CLS-Class presents a compelling, almost glamorous image--though some may find it a touch overwrought.

Behind the wheel, the CLS offers relaxed, comfortable cruising as its primary fare, though the high-performance CLS63 AMG adds a dash of agility and a strong dose of horsepower. The standard CLS 550 isn't underpowered by any means, with 402 horses from its 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard across most of the range.

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An air suspension and all-wheel drive are also available, making the CLS comfortable in most road conditions, and capable even in snowy weather. The performance-minded will seek the CLS63 AMG for its 550 horsepower and upgraded suspension (and the quick-shifting MCT automatic transmission), but the AMG treatment also includes interior upgrades and a more aggressively styled exterior. AMG models gets all-wheel drive as standard equipment for 2014, and a new CLS63 AMG S Model joins the range with 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

Throughout the CLS range, the front seats are spacious and plush. Optional active seating adds active air bladders that hug and hold the driver based on the conditions. Rear-seat space is a bit more cramped, short on head and leg room, owing to the four-door-coupe profile.

Quality and equipment are a step above the CLS-Class' E-Class roots, with standard items like a sunroof, leather upholstery, navigation, walnut wood trim, advanced safety electronics, and 10 airbags.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS hasn't yet been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but ample standard and available safety equipment makes the CLS a safe pick for safe driving.

Gas mileage isn't great when compared to modern luxury hybrids, but it's not abysmal, either, even in AMG trim. Ranging from the thirsty CLS63 AMG 4Matic at 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined, to the comparatively efficient rear-drive CLS 550 at 18/27/21 mpg, the CLS range delivers gas mileage that's about average for its size and performance.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class

Styling

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class combines the best of sleek coupe style with full-size sedan presence.

Almost completely revised for the 2012 model year, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS sees no major aesthetic updates. Fortunately, it's far enough fashion-forward in its basic premise that it's still fresh and sophisticated.

The CLS Class' silhouette is unmistakable, drawing a long, arching curve from nose to tail, with short front and rear ends that enhance the sleek, coupe-like profile.

At the nose, bold angles and a strong grille stand out, carving more masculine lines than the first-generation CLS. In CLS63 AMG form, these aspects are highlighted, with more aggressive aerodynamic elements marking it out as the brawny version of the CLS.

The theme continues inside, with dramatic styling statements that border on busy at times, though curves and expansive surfaces help mitigate the proliferation of detail. Materials are as pleasing to the eyes as the hands, yielding a rich, luxurious atmosphere.

For those opting to enter AMG territory, the experience becomes even richer--if also somewhat busier. Customization and options expand in the CLS63 AMG as well, though even the standard AMG interpretation puts the car in company of some of the greatest luxury sedans outside of the Rolls Royce and Bentley realm.  

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class

Performance

In base form, the 2014 CLS range offers impressive, confident performance; as an AMG, it's breathtaking.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class offers plenty of power in base form, and in CLS63 AMG form, more power than most will know what to do with.

The starting point for the CLS range is the rear-drive CLS 550, powered by a 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine rated at 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Despite the CLS 550's  size, it accelerates to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. All-wheel drive adds a tenth of a second to that figure.

Whether you choose all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, you'll get a seven-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and quickly in standard automatic mode. Comfort and Sport modes soften or sharpen the CLS's character accordingly--and noticeable.

For the true performance fiend, the CLS63 AMG offers upgraded handling, braking, and, of course, power. A 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine rates 550 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque, launching the AMG version of the four-door coupe to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds.

All CLS63 AMG models use a Speedshift MCT seven-speed transmission, and for 2014 are equipped with all-wheel drive as standard.

For 2014, Mercedes-Benz introduces a new CLS63 AMG S Model that takes the power and performance even further. The new maximums are 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, rocketing the CLS63 AMG S Model to 60 mph in under four seconds. Unique to the S Model is a Race Start function, standard Collision Prevention Assist, and AMG adaptive suspension.

All CLS models exhibit relaxed and mellow cruising (though AMG models hint at their firmer suspension even at city speeds), but are more nimble and ready to engage in spirited drives than you'd expect of a car this size.

In AMG models, that nimbleness is enhanced to truly surprising levels, wringing more grip, balance, and speed out of the CLS platform than makes logical sense.  Carbon-ceramic brakes are available (they're a pricey $12,000 option) for those wishing to push their CLS63 AMG to the absolute limits.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class

Comfort & Quality

Though the rear seat is a bit tight, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class cabin is a comfortable, quality environment.

With the arrival of the second-generation CLS Class in 2012, Mercedes-Benz's four-door coupe only grew slightly in size, keeping the same 113.2-inch wheelbase--and most of the compromises in the back seat.

Up front, the 2014 CLS Class is amply comfortable and spacious, with supportive seats and plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room. Standard 14-way adjustments help accommodate a wide type of body shapes and sizes, while available active-bolstered seats enhance support in high-performance driving. Seat ventilation is also available.

The rear seats are more compromised due to the low, sloping four-door-coupe profile. Head room is slight, and leg room is less than abundant. Adults can fit, if not quite in total comfort, but those seeking to regularly transport taller passengers in the back seat will do well to look into the E Class or S Class.

Leather upholstery is standard, as are metal and wood trim pieces. The plastics used throughout the cabin are high-quality and robust, and fit and finish is generally excellent. In AMG models, Nappa leather further upgrades the textural experience, and bespoke-seeming dash and door treatments enhance the visual appeal. In-cabin storage includes a large covered bin space in the center console, flanked by a pair of large cupholders.

Trunk space is fair, though it is slightly smaller in overall volume than the first-generation CLS Class. A power-closing trunk lid is available.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class

Safety

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS offers top-notch standard safety equipment and available high-tech driver aids.

With a reputation for safety and technology, Mercedes-Benz doesn't always need to rely on crash tests to persuade buyers.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class hasn't been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but it does offer ample standard safety equipment, as well as a range of available high-tech extras.

All 2014 CLS models get 10 airbags, Attention Assist driver alertness monitoring, Pre-Safe emergency brake assist and seat-belt tensioner, active head restraints, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control and more.

Available safety improvements include LED headlights, Night View Assist Plus with pedestrian detection, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, a rearview camera, Distronic Plus (a radar-based cruise control system with automatic braking), and Parktronic parking sensors with Active Park Assist.

In general, visibility in the CLS is good, particularly through the front and side windows. The rear three-quarters view can be hindered by the low roof and thick roof supports, but the standard rearview camera helps mitigate that, and the parking systems help when slotting into a tight spot.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class

Features

From high-style to high-tech, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class outstrips even the E Class in its extensive equipment list.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class offers an impressive array of standard technology and entertainment equipment--and then upgrades from there.

The standard audio system is a harmon/kardon LOGIC7 system featuring Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and a sound profile engineered specifically for the CLS. A total of 610 watts of power and 14-speakers push the sound of HD Radio, a six-disc DVD/CD changer, Bluetooth audio streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio, the Gracenote music database, or music stored on the 10GB hard drive. An iPod/MP3 interface is also available.

Apple iPad owners will appreciate the optional docking station, allowing rear-seat passengers to watch movies, play music, surf the web, and more. A built-in rear-seat entertainment system is also available, offering 7-inch screens, DVD player, and integrated SD card/USB stick reader.

The mbrace2 telematics and connectivity suite is a comprehensive update from the previous mbrace system, with upgraded features and new remote services. Some of the features include Mercedes-Benz Apps with Google Local Search, Facebook, and Yelp functions; remote vehicle monitoring for service and usage statistics; the mbrace Concierge service with round-the-clock personal assistance (even when you're not in the car), and much more.

The COMAND infotainment system wraps together control of most of the car's major in-cabin functions, including audio, climate control, and more. Voice-control functions and the central console controller enable less-distracted access to these functions.

The CLS63 AMG model includes many of the optional features in the base CLS as standard equipment, while adding some of its own, including  new-for-2014 features such as Collision Prevention Assist, 19-inch AMG alloy wheels, plus an Alcantara headliner and more.

A wide range of wheel, paint, upholstery, trim, and other personalization options are also available.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class

Fuel Economy

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS won't win any Earth Day awards, but it's surprisingly efficient for its size and performance.

Sneaking past the gas-guzzler tax isn't high praise for any car, but for a four-door coupe of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class' size and power, it's not all that bad, either.

At the base level, the CLS 550 scores a respectable 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined, while generating 402 horsepower from a twin-turbo V-8 engine. Adding 4Matic all-wheel drive brings those figures down to 18/25/20 mpg.  Eco stop-start is now standard on both CLS 550 variants.

The fiercely fast CLS63 AMG makes 550 horsepower and turns it into 16/22/18 mpg. The new higher-performance CLS63 AMG S steps up the power even further, but manages the same gas mileage ratings--and both AMG versions include standard all-wheel drive.


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September 1, 2015
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class 4-Door Sedan CLS 550 RWD

Car is awesome after 2 years of driving.

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It does everything well and have no issues with the vehicle. We have had many Mercedes and this car was the nicer as a daily driver than the E63 we had. We are fans and will suggest to anyone for the value. + More »
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Styling 8
Performance 8
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Features 9
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