Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class If...
If you wish the E-Class Sedan were available in coupe or convertible form, the CLK is about the closest you’re going to get, short of a custom job. A rigid body, firm ride and well-insulated soft top (on the Cabriolet) await the CLK’s lucky owners. There aren’t many rivals in this price range, making the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK a rather exclusive vehicle.
You May Not Like The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class If...
The high price tag for the Cabriolet and V8-powered models is the only negative on our radar screen. In true two-door fashion, the CLK offers little in the way of rear-seat legroom and a manual transmission is not offered on any model.
The limited-production Grand Edition CLK350 Coupe and Cabriolet arrive for 2009 wearing Palladium Silver (Coupe) or Diamond White paint (Cabriolet) with a Tobacco Brown leather interior. Only 1,000 units will reach dealer showrooms. All CLK models now feature as standard a six-disc CD changer and heated front seats.
The 2009 CLK’s interior features familiar styling cues common to all Mercedes Benz cars. From the intuitive ventilation controls to the clever door-mounted switches that from the familiar shape of a seat, it is clear the CLK cockpit was designed to anticipate its occupants every need. More proof can be found in the handy electronically extendable arm that offers the seatbelt to front-seat occupants or the power-operated front seats that automatically move forward when the seatbacks are tipped up. We found the CLK’s seats offer a wide range of positions, including the ability to raise the seat bottoms to a significant rake. This is a favorite position for long-legged drivers who need more thigh support.
Introduced in 2003, the CLK’s timeless design remains fresh and alluring. The stunning Cabriolet takes full advantage of the rakish CLK lines and, with the top removed, looks as though it was born to be a convertible. One of the great features on the Coupe is the absence of a center pillar between the front and rear window on each side. Not only does this design create a beautiful visual profile, it actually improves active safety by allowing an unobstructed view, with the windows in place or lowered.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK550’s V8 develops 382 horsepower, which rockets the car forward while leaving behind the unmistakable note of a V8 exhaust. The wonderfully neutral handling requires only minor input to the steering wheel and offers excellent feedback. Mercedes-Benz also includes two settings for the smooth-shifting seven-speed transmission; one for comfort and one for sport. In the comfort setting, the transmission starts in second gear, reducing the amount of torque to the wheels and thus improving traction. This setting is very useful for those who drive in snow and rain.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK350 Coupe’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $49,000, while the CLK550 Coupe’s MSRP is closer to $59,000. The CLK350 Cabriolet jumps into the $57,000 range, while a fully loaded CLK550 Cabriolet can approach $76,000. A look at the Fair Purchase Price will show the typical transaction price paid in your area, helping you make an informed decision when it comes time to negotiate. Both the Coupe and Cabriolet should retain good residual values, but perhaps not quite on par with those for some of the major competitors, including the BMW 6 Series, Lexus SC430 and Audi S4 Cabriolet.
There are two CLK trims and four models: the V6-powered CLK350 Coupe and Cabriolet and the V8-powered CLK550 Coupe and Cabriolet. The base CLK350 has a seven-speed automatic transmission, front and rear fog lights, Bose audio, front side-impact and front and rear head-curtain airbags, automatic roll bars (Cabriolet), 10-way power and heated leather seats, Electronic Stability Program with traction control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls and memory for the front seats, outside mirrors and steering column position. The CLK550 features a standard sport suspension and 18-inch AMG style wheels.
Options include ventilated front seats, power glass moonroof (Coupe), COMAND audio and navigation control, Keyless Go, rear side-impact airbags, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, bi-xenon headlamps and an electronic trunk closer. The CLK350 Sport Package adds lower springs and stiffer shocks, 17-inch AMG five spoke wheels, perforated brake discs and brake calipers bearing the Mercedes Benz logo.
Pop-Up Roll BarsIntegrated pop-up roll bars on the CLK Cabriolet remain out of sight until needed.Side Turn SignalsTurn signals built into the bases of the side-view mirrors are visible to drivers next to you.
Under the Hood
Though not as lightning-quick as the 5.5-liter V8 found in the CLK550, the CLK350’s 3.5-liter V6 provides the quick throttle response buyers expect from a $50K-plus automobile. About the only reason to move up to the CLK550’s V8 is the few additional features and added performance.3.5-liter V6268 horsepower @ 6000 rpm258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2400-5000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 5.5-liter V8382 horsepower @ 6000 rpm391 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4800 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 (Coupe), 15/21 (Cabriolet)
The CLK is Mercedes-Benz’s mid-level premium coupe and convertible line. Although the 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK costs significantly more than its competition, the company believes the brand’s name and engineering excellence justify the higher price. Styling, performance and luxury hold strong sway with consumers in these market categories, and the CLK Coupe and Cabriolet are prime examples. The CLK Coupe stands out from the few others in this segment by touting a pillarless hardtop design and a stunning profile. As the CLK350 and CLK550 clearly place luxury above any really serious performance ambitions, true driving enthusiasts may find more to like in the Audi S5 or BMW 3 Series.