2016 Mercedes Benz Cls Class - The Car Connection

   
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The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown



The Car Connection Expert Review


Aaron Cole

Aaron Cole

Managing Editor


  • Likes
  • Timeless look
  • Potent, capable V-6 and V-8 engines
  • Incredible handling and performance in AMG trim
  • Excellent front seats
  • New interior design is elegant, beautiful
  • Dislikes
  • Rear-seat head room still tight
  • High price tag
  • COMAND is what it is
  • No shooting brake variant offered in U.S.

The 2016 Mercedes CLS-Class looks great—inside and out. But a new E-Class and more efficient powertrains may outrun the potent "four-door coupe" sooner rather than later.


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.

Styling
8.0

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was one of the first to adopt the coupe-sedan look and it's still one of the best.


The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was last updated in 2012, but that doesn't mean its look is getting long in the tooth. The "four-door coupe" that was berated by traditionalists has almost universally been adopted by other automakers, including its chief competition from BMW and Audi.

The sedan retains the same clean front end and sharp lines that have been echoed throughout the Mercedes-Benz family. One look at the new CLA-Class reveals that many other Mercedes models have followed suit from the CLS-Class, which still looks sharp. The long, arching curve that defines the CLS’ silhouette remains, with short front and rear overhangs enhancing the sleek, coupe-like side view. From the front, the CLS-Class is beginning to show its age, if only because nearly every other Mercedes model has adopted their looks from the CLS.

The look in the CLS63 AMG can be downright menacing. With an optional (and pricey) carbon fiber package and the right paint scheme, the elegant CLS-Class can look like an asphalt devouring machine—and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Inside, the new interior design theme seen in the 2015 C-Class and 2015 S-Class brings the CLS-Class fully in line with the brand’s latest offerings. Classy and upscale, the new look and feel blends classic themes like real wood and metal trim in a thoroughly modern, luxurious style that will appeal to a wide range of buyers.

AMG models get an even more aggressive look outside, with larger air inlets, more aerodynamic elements, more aggressive wheels and tires, and, inside, special AMG-specific touches that add a definite performance air to match the potential waiting under the hood.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was one of the first to adopt the coupe-sedan look and it's still one of the best.

Performance
8.0

There's no bad pick, but the AMG version of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is breathtakingly fast.


The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class now has the same type of performance found in competitor models, such as the Audi A7, with each model having some modicum of power and brisk acceleration.

For model year 2015, Mercedes-Benz added a CLS400 at the bottom of the range, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. It's no slouch, the folks over at Motor Trend said they could rip off a 5.1-second 0-60 mph sprint in the rear-drive model, which was a hair quicker than the comparable BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t yet released acceleration specs for the CLS400, but from our drive time in the car, we note it provides quick and lively acceleration at any speed.

The powertrain change for this year is the excellent 9-speed automatic making its way across the lineup. The V-8-powered CLS550 now is 9-speed only—regardless of rear-drive or all-wheel drive. That 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine is rated at 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Where the CLS400 is brisk, the CLS550 is downright quick.

Adding extra shift points and revised gearing, the new 9-speed automatic proved both smooth-shifting and intelligent in its gear selection during our time with the car.

The rest of the lineup—CLS400 and CLS63 AMG—make do with the 7-speed automatic.

At the top of the CLS-Class performance range sits the CLS63 AMG. Powered by a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine with up to 585 hp and 577 lb-ft of torque in S Model trim, the CLS63 AMG offers nearly supercar-level acceleration and impressive handling for a large coupe-sedan thanks to AMG adaptive suspension. It’s the driver’s selection of the group, to be sure.

All CLS-Class models offer relaxed, comfortable cruising when desired, but also the ability to turn up the wick and engage a curvy road with grace—an impressive combination for a car of its size. AMG models burn even brighter, pushing both driver and car toward the absolute limits.

There's no bad pick, but the AMG version of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is breathtakingly fast.

Comfort & Quality
8.0

Taller passengers will still be cramped in the back, but the interior of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is still impressive.


The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class stays the same from last year, including the 113.2-inch wheelbase and the somewhat snug back seat.

In the front seat, the car's interior—which was redesigned last year—is a welcoming and pleasant sight for passengers and drivers alike. The front buckets are roomy and comfortable, with plenty of adjustment available for taller drivers (14-way electronic seats are standard). Upper trims, including the mega-AMG model include active bolsters that hug into corners to provide additional support.

By design, the architecture hinders the ergonomics of the CLS-Class. The swooping, arched, coupe-like roofline takes its toll on rear passengers. Head room is not abundant, though only taller occupants are likely to notice. Adults fit fairly easily, but those seeking to transport three or four adults regularly may prefer the E-Class or S-Class.

The new model year’s upgraded interior brings with it new looks and even better-looking and -feeling materials, including real wood and metal trim, high-quality plastics, and stunning displays. Leather upholstery is standard, and AMG models can opt for Nappa leather for even richer textures.

For 2016, Mercedes has added available Nappa leather, three-spoke steering wheel on all trim levels as part of an optional wheel package. In fact, it's hard to imagine how many CLS-Class models will leave the factory without the new wheel.

Interior storage is fair, but not as accommodating as it could be. The center console can swallow a range of small items, but not much more. The trunk's 11 cubic feet are small—a Honda Civic has roughly 40 percent more space—but beauty has its price. An optional power-closing trunk lid is always there to help.

Taller passengers will still be cramped in the back, but the interior of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is still impressive.

Safety
8.0

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is one of the safest of its kind, and has the ratings to back it up.


The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class hasn't yet been tested by federal safety officials nor the independent IIHS, and considering the car's sales numbers and price, it likely won't be anytime soon.

Thankfully, safety-conscious buyers should consider Mercedes-Benz's reputation for high-quality, safe (if not over-engineered) vehicles as reassurance that the CLS-Class could meet safety requirements—if ever tasked to do so.

The sedan comes equipped with 10 standard airbags; attention assist, which monitors driver alertness; active head restraints; emergency brake assistance; anti-lock brakes; stability and traction control.

The CLS-Class can go beyond those requirements with Night View Assist Plus with pedestrian detection; blind-spot monitors; lane-keep assist; adaptive cruise control; and parking assistance.

From a passive standpoint, visibility out of the CLS is generally good, though the rear-three-quarters view can be somewhat obstructed by the low roof and thick roof supports, depending on driver height. The standard rearview camera and parking assist systems help mitigate this, however.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is one of the safest of its kind, and has the ratings to back it up.

Features
9.0

Even base versions of the 2016 CLS-Class are well done, with plenty room left over for pricey upgrades.


Mercedes-Benz has a habit of making standard plenty of comfort, convenience, and technology features in its priciest cars. We can appreciate that for a sedan that starts in the mid-$60,000 and ranges well into six figures at the highest trim.

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.

The first available package—and probably the most popular one—bundles ventilated front seats, the Harman Kardon system, SiriusXM radio, keyless ignition, and a rearview camera. A separate, optional system adds Mercedes' excellent blind-spot monitors and lane-keep assist for a nominal (relatively speaking) fee.

AMG models offer many of the standard and optional features of standard CLS-Class models, including standard Collision Prevention Assist, an Alcantara headliner, AMG-specific wheels, and more.

For 2016, Mercedes will make available its Night Package in the CLS63 S AMG cars, which blacks out some chrome trim around the grille and windows. At $750, the ask might be steep for an the appearance-only upgrade, but it's considerably less than the $5,500 Carbon Fiber package available too.

New this year, is a darker gray pain scheme, dubbed "Selenite Grey Metallic," which is available at no cost.

For the individualist, Mercedes-Benz offers a wide array of paint, upholstery, trim, and wheel styles.

Even base versions of the 2016 CLS-Class are well done, with plenty room left over for pricey upgrades.

Fuel Economy
6.0

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class can touch 30 mpg, but efficiency isn't its strong suit.


The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class benefits from a slippery shape and a range of updating powertrains, but this luxury sedan is swank first—stingy second. The base CLS400 in rear-drive is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined. Adding all-wheel drive drops those numbers to 19/26/22 mpg, which is no small penalty.

New for 2016, the CLS550 models gain a 9-speed automatic across the board; last year, only the all-wheel drive "4Matic" version received the 9-speed treatment. The 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.

Fans of the CLS63 AMG 4Matic shouldn't hold their breath. The big, fast, loud, and quick sedan manages 16/22/18 mpg, which is relatively good for its class.

Comparatively speaking, the Audi A7 ranges at 20/30/24 mpg—dead on with the CLS400 4Matic.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class can touch 30 mpg, but efficiency isn't its strong suit.




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