2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Review

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS finishes near the bottom of our luxury large car rankings. It offers quick acceleration and an engaging ride, but it has limited cabin room, and it's one of the most expensive cars in the class.

Pros & Cons

  • Adept handling
  • Powerful engines
  • Supportive front seats
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Undersized trunk
  • Frustrating infotainment system




Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 8.8
Interior: 7.9
Total Cost of Ownership: 4.6
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Overview

Is the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS a Good Used Car?

The 2018 CLS is a decent used luxury large sedan, but rivals like the 2018 Audi A7 have more interior space and a lower average list price.

The 2018 CLS has some solid strengths:

  • Abundant features list
  • Strong engines
  • Agile handling
  • Roomy front seats

But it also has some weaknesses that hold it back:

  • Somewhat stiff ride
  • Cramped back row
  • Below-average trunk space
  • Confusing infotainment controls
Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve analyzed 37 Mercedes-Benz CLS reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain impartial, we do not accept extravagant gifts from automakers, and an outside source handles our advertising.

How Much Is the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS?

Based on listings for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS on our site, the average price is $61,500. Prices range from $50,000 to $69,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Cost to Own?

At the time of writing, there are no five-year projections for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance for the 2018 CLS.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New CLS?

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS (MSRP: $69,200) will likely cost you more than a used 2018 CLS, but it's worth the investment. The CLS was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, and those changes helped it land much higher in our rankings. For 2019, Mercedes revamped the trim lineup and replaced the V8 engines from previous models with more efficient, though less powerful, V6 engines. Inside is a more modern cabin that includes a larger infotainment screen (12.3-inches for 2019 compared to 8 inches for 2018) and seating for five people, up from four in older models.

Read about the new Mercedes CLS »

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS is part of a generation that debuted for the 2012 model year. For 2014, Mercedes added the high-performance CLS 63 AMG S trim to the lineup, while the 2015 CLS received a new CLS 400 trim and refreshed interior and exterior styling. A new nine-speed automatic transmission was added to various trims for 2016 and 2017. For 2018, Mercedes added a rearview camera to the standard features list and discontinued the CLS 400 trim.

Because there weren't many changes between 2015 and 2018, used-car shoppers should focus their search on a CLS from those four years.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 CLS »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS?

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about CLS reliability »

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Recalls

At the time of writing, there are no recalls for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS.

See more information on Mercedes-Benz CLS safety recalls »

Which Used Mercedes-Benz CLS Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS comes in two trims: CLS 550 and AMG CLS 63 S. Both models come with a similar list of features; the main difference between them is power. The base CLS 550 features a 402-horsepower V8 engine that should be strong enough for most shoppers. Those seeking the best performance from a CLS will want the AMG CLS 63 S and its brutish 577-horsepower V8 engine.

  • Mercedes-Benz CLS 550: The base CLS 550 features a 402-horsepower V8 engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. It also comes with leather seats, heated front seats, power-adjustable front seats, a sunroof, a rearview camera, collision prevention with automatic braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, and the COMAND infotainment system with an 8-inch display, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB port, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG CLS 63 S: The AMG CLS 63 S comes with a 577-horsepower V8 engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. This trim has nearly identical features as the base trim.

See 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS trims and specs »

What Does Mercedes-Benz's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Mercedes-Benz offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 75,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned vehicles come with the balance of the original four-year/50,000-mile new-car warranty, plus an additional one-year/unlimited-mileage warranty. This warranty can be renewed for a fee. If the new-car warranty has expired, you’ll receive the one-year warranty with unlimited mileage. Every Mercedes-Benz CPO vehicle must pass a 165-point inspection.

If you’re unsatisfied with your CPO vehicle, Mercedes’ Exchange Privilege program allows you to exchange it for another CPO vehicle of equal or lesser value within seven days or 500 miles. Additional benefits like towing and 24-hour roadside assistance may be available, so read the Mercedes-Benz warranty page carefully.

Among luxury car manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz’s CPO program is about average. It’s better than BMW’s but not as robust as Jaguar’s or Lexus’, according to our analysis.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the CLS?

Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tested the 2018 CLS.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • collision prevention
  • automatic braking
  • driver drowsiness monitoring
  • Mercedes' Pre-Safe (prepares the vehicle for an impending frontal crash)

Available advanced safety features:

  • blind spot monitoring
  • adaptive cruise control
  • lane keep assist
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • pedestrian detection
  • parallel park assist
  • front and rear parking sensors
  • Pre-Safe Plus (prepares the vehicle for an imminent rear crash)
  • surround-view parking camera

See CLS safety scores »

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS or 2018 Audi A7?

The 2018 Audi A7 is not only less expensive than the CLS, it's also a superior luxury large car. In addition to having one of the nicest interiors in the class and an easy-to-use infotainment system, it also has more passenger and cargo space than the Mercedes. Performance-wise, both vehicles deliver enjoyable rides, but the A7 features a base V6 engine that's more fuel-efficient than any 2018 CLS engine. The A7 also comes standard with all-wheel drive, which you'll have to pay extra for in the CLS. The Audi is the clear winner.

Which Is Better: 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS or 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sits in the luxury midsize car class and has many similarities to the CLS, including a comparable list of amenities, a premium interior, and agile handling. The E-Class sedan seats an extra person (five people versus four in the CLS), and its rear seats are roomier than the CLS'. The E-Class is also available in coupe, convertible, and wagon body styles. Plus, its available 603-horsepower V8 is more powerful than any of the CLS' offerings. On top of that, the E-Class is more affordable. The E-Class is the better choice.

Compare the CLS, A7, and E-Class »

2018 CLS Performance

How Does the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Drive?

The CLS' base engine has more than enough gusto for your daily travels, but those who want to take it up a notch will likely favor the upgraded V8. The CLS' taut suspension helps deliver an engaging ride highlighted by nimble handling, but it may be too firm for some drivers.

  • Base engine: 402-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8
  • Available engine: 577-horsepower twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard nine-speed automatic; available seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Does the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Get Good Gas Mileage?

The 2018 CLS has slightly below-average fuel efficiency for the class.

  • 4.7-liter V8, RWD: 18/26 mpg city/highway
  • 4.7-liter V8, AWD: 17/25 mpg
  • 5.5-liter V8, AWD: 16/22 mpg

Read more about CLS performance »

2018 CLS Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 CLS Seat?

There's seating for up to four people in the 2018 CLS, which is one less seat than most class rivals offer. All seats provide great comfort and support, and there's plenty of space to stretch out in the front row. The back row has limited headroom, however, due to a sloped roofline. The CLS' design is slightly outdated compared to the rest of the class, but its interior materials are top-notch.

Standard seating features:

  • leather upholstery
  • heated front seats
  • power-adjustable front seats

Available seating features:

  • upgraded leather upholstery
  • ventilated front seats
  • heated rear seats
  • heated steering wheel
  • massaging driver's seat
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS?

The 2018 CLS has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors.

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Features

This Mercedes COMAND infotainment system features sharp graphics, but it's controlled by a confusing central knob instead of a more user-friendly touch screen.

  • Standard infotainment features: the COMAND infotainment system with an 8-inch screen, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB port, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay
  • Available infotainment features: a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo
  • Additional standard features: a sunroof

See 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS specs »

Read more about CLS interior »

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Dimensions

Mercedes-Benz CLS Cargo Space

The CLS' 11-cubic-foot cargo area is small compared to those of many class rivals. Split-folding rear seats are available, which make it easier to haul larger items. Some models also come with an available power trunk lid.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Length and Weight
  • Length: 16 feet, 2 inches to 16 feet, 5 inches
  • Curb weight: 4,230 to 4,420 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Built?

Mercedes built the 2018 CLS in Germany.


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