Mercedes-Benz hasn't much changed the CLS year-over-year since its significant overhaul in 2012, but that's not a bad thing. In most respects, the car helped define the "four-door coupe" revolution, and it has aged very well since then. For 2016, the car slowly makes standard its excellent 9-speed automatic in more trims, but the CLS largely remains the same. Again—not a bad thing.
The CLS-Class wears Mercedes’ latest interior design theme with grace, wrapped in luxurious leathers and high-quality woods, with an aesthetic that seamlessly blends classic with high-tech.
The large, luxurious cabin of the CLS-Class pairs well with its elegant exterior, potent powertrains, and high-tech features, putting it among the top four-door luxury coupes on the market.
Under the hood, the CLS 400 gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine rated at 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. It’s a brisk performer, never lagging in traffic, and easily passing at any speed. The CLS 550 uses the familiar 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine rated at 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque for even more impressive acceleration. Both rear-wheel-drive and 4Matic all-wheel-drive versions of the CLS are available. An AMG-tuned CLS63 AMG is also available, cranking out up to 585 hp.
For 2016, the CLS550 all-wheel-drive version inherits the 9-speed automatic available only on rear-drive CLS550 models last year. The impact on fuel economy isn't as significant as we had hoped, but the 9-speed should be making its rounds to other CLS models in the near future too. This new transmission provides even more seamless, smooth shifting, and could improve gas mileage in the real world, thanks to the additional intermediary steps and higher top gear.
The rest of the lineup—CLS400 and CL63 AMG—make do with the 7-speed automatic.
Standard equipment includes Mercedes' Audio 20 CD system, but can (and should) be quickly upgraded to a 610-watt, 14-speaker Harman Kardon LOGIC7 audio system with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, using a sound profile specific to the CLS. Included with the standard system are Bluetooth audio streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio, and the Gracenote music database, plus 10 GB of hard drive music storage and iPod/MP3 compatibility with an 8.0-inch screen. An optional Bang & Olufsen BeoSound sound system offers a beautiful upgrade for the ears and eyes, with its exquisite speaker grilles and impressive sound at an equally impressive cost: $5,400.
It’s not all performance and luxury with the CLS-Class, however. There’s a healthy dose of technology, too, much of it aimed at keeping the occupants safe. Standard equipment in this category includes Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which can help prevent rear-end collisions through the autonomous use of brakes if necessary. Optional extras include: adaptive cruise control and other semi-autonomous driving features; Pre-Safe Brake with pedestrian detection; blind-spot monitors; active lane-keep assist; and active parking assistance too.
On the other side of the technology front, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class offers a host of entertainment and information features, such as the COMAND Online system, operated through the central 8.0-inch color high-resolution display. From internet surfing while the vehicle is stationary to one-the-go Bluetooth streaming, weather, Google Local Search, StreetView, and more, the COMAND Online system, especially in conduction with Mercedes-Benz Apps, offers much for the tech-head to love.
The base CLS400 in rear-drive is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined. Adding AWD drops those numbers to 19/26/22 mpg, which is no small penalty.
New for 2016, the CLS550 rear-drive ratings carry over for the CLS550 to this year, which are 17/26/21 mpg. The CLS550 4Matic is better with the 9-speed, albeit incrementally: 17/25/20 mpg.