$56,528 - $80,511

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was new.


Performance: 8.8

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS features powerful engines and engaging handling, making it a fun car to drive. It also delivers the smooth ride you want from a high-end luxury sedan. Fuel economy numbers could be a little better, but they're not bad for the class.

  • "It's very quick. Although not an out-and-out sporting handler, the CLS 550 is capable enough to make impressive progress on back roads. This car is more of a cruiser, though, and not an AMG model." -- Edmunds
  • "As brilliant on an enclosed track as it is on the open road, the 2016 CLS coupe from Mercedes-Benz offers its owners a sense of exclusivity and envy few cars can match." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "If performance and handling are what you're after, the CLS63 AMG is, as always, the way to go. It sports a bigger twin-turbo V-8 with even more power on tap than before. The result is an addictive shove in the chest every time you get into the throttle." -- Motor Trend (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The CLS 550 comes with a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 engine that makes 402 horsepower. It's mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. This engine provides more than enough power for most driving situations, and it will throw you back in your seat off the line. However, the throttle response is hit or miss, particularly out of corners.

The high-performance AMG CLS 63 S comes with a 577-horsepower, turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The AMG model moves like greased lighting, and according to Mercedes-Benz, the CLS 63 S will go from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

The CLS 550 gets an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are a little below average for the class, but they're in line with what many competitors earn. The AMG model is a little less efficient, earning just 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.

  • "Power delivery is smooth and full-bodied, matched with quick, seamless shifts. It's always a joy to have that much brute force at one's disposal. Of course, it's twice as much fun when you step into the CLS63 AMG S 4Matic." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "The CLS550 delivers a plentiful rush of power that can pin passengers to their seatbacks when you hit the gas, providing the sort of acceleration we used to expect from AMG models (but without the firm ride and heftier repair bill that comes with its many AMG components). Then again, that just means that today's AMG model, the CLS63 S, is even more awe-inspiring with its colossal thrust and the resolute grip provided by its standard all-wheel-drive system. It's one of the most thrilling cars with four doors." -- Edmunds (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Mercedes-Benz CLS comes with rear-wheel drive; Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive is available. AWD is standard in the AMG CLS 63 S. The CLS is available with an adjustable suspension, which can adapt to road and driving conditions instantaneously.

The CLS rides smoothly in general, but some people may find it a little stiff for their liking. Anybody can appreciate this car's handling, however. While it's not a sports car, the CLS handles well for a large sedan. It feels stable and planted even when taking turns at speed, instilling plenty of driver confidence.

  • "The 2017 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 embodies everything we've come to expect from top-level German luxury sedans. The confidence-inspiring handling, combined with a composed ride quality, is a testament to the adaptive suspension's range and tuning. The steering feel is also worthy of praise; it provides feedback to the driver during enthusiastic handling and feels properly weighted for every driving condition." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The 2017 CLS63 AMG S is easily a match for the Porsche Panamera and Audi S7, although we think the BMW M6 Gran Coupe feels a bit sharper overall. The 2017 CLS's impressive handling comes at price, that being its somewhat stiff ride that becomes annoyingly noticeable in everyday driving." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "The CLS550 can take a fast turn with remarkable grip and minimal body roll." -- Autotrader (2014)

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