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2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.1

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS is available with a pair of muscular yet fuel-efficient engines. The CLS accelerates swiftly and boasts strong passing power at higher speeds. It also rides comfortably on uneven road surfaces, and it feels stable through tight turns.

  • "With the CLS450, the feel from behind the wheel is smooth and calm, never frenetic." -- Car and Driver
  • "Its torque flows deep and steady, thanks to a big, high-boost turbo and the electrically operated compressor filling the numb spots, and there's plenty of bottom end." -- Autoweek (2019)
  • "Driving the CLS 450 4MATIC in its Sport+ drive setting is what I imagine a cool early morning jog is like for a hardened marathon runner—a comfortable glide with more than enough power, that occasionally taps into a surge just for the hell of it." -- Jalopnik (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The Mercedes CLS is offered in two configurations. The entry-level CLS 450 has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It also features a mild-hybrid system (EQ Boost) that can provide an extra 184 pound-feet of torque at low speeds, helping the engine feel livelier while also conserving fuel. The CLS 53 has an upgraded version of this powertrain with 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. Both models are paired with a responsive nine-speed automatic transmission.

Regardless of engine choice, the CLS accelerates quickly and smoothly, and it can confidently pass slower vehicles on the highway. The CLS 450 sprints from zero to 60 mph in around five seconds. The CLS 53 shaves about a half-second off that time.

The CLS 450 equipped with rear-wheel drive gets an EPA-rated 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. That’s one of the best fuel economy ratings in the luxury large car segment. Upgrading to 4Matic all-wheel drive lowers these ratings by one point. The CLS 53 model is outfitted solely with all-wheel drive, and it manages 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

  • "The 362-horsepower turbocharged inline-six engine was responsive with no lags or delay, allowing us to hold our own in the eat-or-be-eaten world of NYC commuters. Some of that responsiveness is due to the integrated starter/generator, which is an electric motor tucked between the engine and its nine-speed automatic transmission." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "Power is suggestive but not alarming, and there's not quite an engaging driving experience, but it does what you want, feels good and leaves you feeling embarrassingly smug. When putting it down, the power comes on directly and excitedly, and you're pushed satisfyingly deep into your pored-leather seatback. It's perfect for those conflicted between giving in to their impatience and treating themselves to a relaxing drive." -- Jalopnik (2019)
  • "Powertrain? Nailed it. We loved both iterations of this inline-six and hope to see it in more vehicles soon. The EQ Boost system takes an already solid format and makes it feel advanced. Routing power through a smooth, no-fuss nine-speed automatic with paddle shifter seems like the ideal, well-rounded choice for the CLS." -- Autoblog (2019)

Handling and Braking

The Mercedes CLS has well-rounded driving dynamics. It glides comfortably over rough road surfaces and remains balanced through turns, making for a car that’s easy and relaxing for daily driving. Its brakes provide strong yet smooth stopping power as well. Both models come standard with an adaptive suspension. An air suspension is optional, giving the CLS an even cushier ride.

  • "It's not a car you take to the track and beat to hell. It's a car for eating up miles quickly, comfortably, not to mention stylishly. As such, yeah, Mercedes nailed it." -- Autoblog (2019)
  • "On the road, the CLS450 feels composed, its standard non-air suspension soaking up road inconsistencies and returning a smooth ride that has the makings of a great road-trip machine." -- CNET (2019)
  • "Smooth best describes the shifting, steering, and braking. The brakes never grab, and they respond as if they are reading the driver's mind – especially in a groove on a winding road with nonstop twists and switchbacks, all of which the brakes handle with a sublime effortlessness." -- Motor Trend (2019)
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2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

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