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2020 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL finishes in the middle of our luxury sports car rankings. It delivers an enjoyable and luxurious driving experience, and it has a top-notch interior, but its overall athleticism trails some of its classmates.

Pros & Cons

  • Potent engines
  • Cushioned ride
  • Comfortable, posh interior
  • Large trunk
  • Outdated infotainment system

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class's #7 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Sports Cars category. Currently the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has a score of 8.6 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 34 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 8.9
Interior: 8.2
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Mercedes-Benz SL-Class?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Mercedes-Benz SL a Good Car?

Yes, the Mercedes-Benz SL is a good car. It offers powerful V6 and V8 engines, and it handles well and rides smoothly. Inside, there are only two seats, but they're spacious and sumptuous. There's plenty of technology as well.

This Mercedes isn’t perfect, however. There are other sports cars with better handling, and some rivals offer more fuel-efficient, albeit less powerful, engines. Some competitors also have more user-friendly infotainment systems.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz SL?

This roadster makes a great choice for buyers who want a premium sports car that's fun to drive around town but is at its best when used as a grand touring vehicle. This Benz is also a convertible, which is a nice plus, as not every sports car can drop its top.

There are better options if you're looking for a car to take to the track, however. Regardless of what you're into, you should check out other luxury sports cars in addition to the SL, as the class is loaded with excellent vehicles. Great choices include the BMW 8 Series and Porsche 911.

Compare the SL, 8 Series, and 911 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mercedes-Benz SL?

There haven't been a ton of notable changes to the SL since its 2013 redesign, so if you're OK shopping used, you can probably find an older model from the current generation that is similar to a new SL but less expensive. The only major change for 2020 is that the performance-oriented Mercedes-AMG SL 63 has been discontinued.

For 2019, the V12-powered Mercedes-AMG SL 65 was dropped from the lineup. For 2017, the SL got a new base engine with 33 extra horsepower. The 2017 model also received updated exterior styling, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 SL, 2018 SL, and 2019 SL reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 SL »

We Did the Research for You: 34 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

This review uses applicable research and data from all model years of the current SL generation, which launched for 2013.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz SL Cost?

There's a huge price disparity among luxury sports cars. Roughly half of the cars in the luxury sports car class have starting prices around or under $60,000, while others start around or above $90,000. The SL falls into the latter group, as the SL 450 starts at $91,000. Only a few competitors have significantly higher starting prices.

The top trim, the SL 550, starts at $114,700. That's downright reasonable compared to many other cars in the class, as a top-trim price for a luxury sports car can easily exceed $125,000, with some approaching or surpassing $200,000. However, many of those pricey top trims deliver much more dynamic performance than you'll get from the SL.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

Mercedes-Benz SL Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz SL or BMW 8 Series?

The BMW 8 Series finishes close to the SL in our luxury sports car rankings, but there are some key differences between the two. The BMW is offered in three body styles: coupe, sedan, and convertible. The BMW coupe and sedan are less expensive than the SL, but the most comparable variant, the 8 Series convertible, costs roughly $6,400 more than the base SL. If you're comparing convertible models, the Mercedes is the better choice for most buyers because it delivers more bang for your buck. It is more luxurious inside, and it has sublime seats.

The BMW convertible technically seats more people than the SL (four versus two), but in practice, its cramped rear seats nullify that advantage. The BMW delivers impressive performance, and it offers a 523-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine that's more powerful than anything in the SL. Additionally, the 8 Series rides smoothly and handles well for its size. These are both good cars, and ultimately the best choice comes down to your personal preference.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz SL or Porsche 911?

The Porsche 911 is one of our most highly rated cars in any class, and it's a better luxury sports car in many ways than the Mercedes SL. Performance is outstanding. The 911 is powerful, and it handles much better than the SL, making it more at home on the track. Unlike the Mercedes, the Porsche offers all-wheel drive and a manual transmission, and it's available in multiple body styles, including a hardtop coupe and convertible.

Inside, the 911 has a stylish cabin and plenty of standard and available features. However, this Porsche has less cargo space than the SL, and it can cost significantly more than the Mercedes, especially at the top end of the trim range.

Compare the SL, 8 Series, and 911 »

SL Performance

SL Engine: V6 or V8?

There are two SL trims, each with their own engine. The SL 450 comes with a 362-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6, and the SL 550 features a 449-horsepower twin-turbo V8. Both engines have a nice sound and come with a silky nine-speed automatic transmission. The base V6 is quick, but this V8 is noticeably stronger, it delivers quicker acceleration, and it will really get your pulse pounding.

Mercedes-Benz SL Powertrain/Performance Options:
  • Base engine: twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque (SL 450); starts at $91,000
  • Available engines:
    • Twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 with 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque (SL 550); starts at $114,700
  • Drivetrain: rear-wheel drive
  • Transmission: nine-speed automatic
Mercedes-Benz SL Individual Appearance Options:            
  • Magic Sky Control (prices start at $2,500): allows you to make the panoramic sunroof shaded or clear
Mercedes-Benz SL Individual Performance Options:
  • AMG sport steering wheel (prices start at $500): a performance flat-bottom steering wheel
  • Active Body Control suspension (prices start at $4,090): an adaptive suspension system that monitors road conditions and adjusts the suspension accordingly
SL Gas Mileage: Below Average

Most class rivals come with four-cylinder base engines and, thus, can achieve better fuel economy ratings than this Mercedes. However, the Benz's ratings are comparable to many V6-powered rivals'. The SL 450 gets 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, and the SL 550 gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

SL Ride and Handling: Cushioned Ride, Composed Handling

The SL may not deliver the other-worldly athleticism of peers like the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type, but it has a sporty, fun-to-drive character and strong brakes. The SL delivers an excellent ride quality, though you'll feel the occasional bump because of the low-profile tires. Overall, this vehicle is best thought of as a grand tourer rather than a hardcore track vehicle.

How Fast Is the Mercedes-Benz SL?

According to Mercedes, the base SL 450 can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, while the SL 550 has a zero-to-60 time of 4.3 seconds. Both trims have a top speed of 155 mph.

Does the Mercedes-Benz SL Have All-Wheel Drive?                                                     

No, the SL does not offer all-wheel drive. This Mercedes is strictly a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. If you would prefer a luxury sports car with AWD, consider the Audi R8 or Porsche 911.

Read more about performance »

SL Interior

How Many People Does the SL Seat?

The Mercedes SL is a two-seat roadster. It features a power-retractable hardtop with a glass roof panel that can lower when the car is moving at speeds of up to 25 mph. Mercedes' Magic Sky Control is available. This feature lets you electronically adjust the tint of the glass panel to let more or less light in.

The seats are extremely comfortable, and they provide plenty of head- and legroom, even for taller occupants. It's easy to get in and out of the car as well.

SL and Child Car Seats

There are no LATCH car-seat connectors in this roadster. We do not recommend installing a car seat in any vehicle with only two seats.

SL Interior Quality

This Mercedes has a lot going for it inside, with a great-looking, stylish interior. Though it isn't the poshest Benz out there, high-quality materials cover every surface. On the downside, some wind and road noise does intrude into the cabin.

SL Cargo Space

Sports cars are hardly cargo haulers, but the SL provides more trunk space than most class rivals. You get 13.5 cubic feet of space with the top raised and 8.5 cubic feet with it lowered. There's also a movable partition so that the top doesn't crush your stuff when you lower it.

SL Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system with an 8-inch screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, satellite radio, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

Available features include a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

The COMAND infotainment system works well once you get the hang of it, but it's not as easy to use as many rival systems. Some competitors also have larger infotainment screens, but this Mercedes' display gets the job done.

Read more about interior »

SL Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz SL Reliable?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Mercedes-Benz SL Warranty

Mercedes-Benz covers the SL with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

SL Safety

SL Crash Test Results

The 2020 Mercedes SL has not been put through crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This is common among luxury vehicles.

SL Safety Features

Standard active safety features include a rearview camera, driver drowsiness monitoring, and Mercedes' Pre-Safe, which automatically rolls up the windows and tightens the seat belts when sensors detect an impending frontal collision.

Available driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular park assist, and Pre-Safe Plus, which is like Pre-Safe but is for rearward collisions.

Read more about safety »

SL Dimensions and Weight

The SL is 15.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,825 to 4,012 pounds.

Where Is the Mercedes-Benz SL Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2020 SL in Germany.

When Did the Mercedes-Benz SL First Come Out?

When the SL was introduced for 1954, it was available as a sports car with gullwing doors and as a luxury convertible. In 1955, the brand decided to widen its audience by incorporating a similar look and style in a less expensive vehicle. The second generation began in 1963 with a new look that made this Benz strictly a hardtop convertible. The fourth-generation SL, which started in 1989, was the first generation to offer high-performance AMG models. The SL gained a folding hardtop for its fifth generation, which debuted for the 2001 model year. The current generation started with the 2013 model year. Models from this generation feature a standard V6 engine or a stronger V8 and benefit from improved handling and a lighter weight.

Which Mercedes-Benz SL Model Is Right for Me?

Mercedes offers two SL trims: the SL 450 and the SL 550. Both feature rear-wheel drive and a power-retractable hardtop. The base SL 450 will suit most buyers just fine. The only advantage the SL 550 has over the base trim is its more powerful engine. Since the base engine still has plenty of juice, there's no real need to upgrade. Additionally, you can get the SL 450 trim fully loaded with comfort and tech features for less than you'd pay for the SL 550.

Mercedes-Benz SL 450

The SL 450 carries a base price of $91,000. It comes with a 362-horsepower V6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include leather upholstery, heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, a rearview camera, driver drowsiness monitoring, and Pre-Safe. Other standard features include the COMAND infotainment system with an 8-inch screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

You can add several other features, such as ventilated and massaging seats, Airscarf, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, parallel and perpendicular park assist, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and more. Some of these features can be added individually, while others are part of option packages.

Mercedes-Benz SL 550

The SL 550 has a starting price of $114,700. It comes with a 449-horsepower V8 engine. In addition to the SL 450's standard features, the SL 550 comes with parallel and perpendicular park assist, ventilated and massaging seats, and Airscarf. As with the base trim, several more features are available, both individually or as part of a package.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

See 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL may not offer the world-beating performance you get from some luxury sports cars, but it's an opulent, comfortable roadster with plenty of power and excellent handling, leading to an enjoyable driving experience.

The SL finishes in the middle of the class rankings, but that's largely a reflection of the incredible quality of many vehicles in the segment, as there's plenty to love about this Mercedes.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Whether you're a hip-hop icon or simply a fan of tasteful splendor, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL-class still radiates status and elegant curb appeal. Though the current generation of Mercedes-Benz's longest-running nameplate has aged, albeit gracefully, its comfortable cabin and enthusiastic driving traits create an honest and sporty luxury roadster. … With the retractable hard top stowed, the SL-class feels at home on curving roads or just cruising a country two-lane feeling a summer breeze on your face. Executing a sensual blend of luxury and sport has always been a Mercedes forte, and the SL-class maintains that tradition." -- Car and Driver
  • "When it comes to dignified top-down motoring, the Mercedes-Benz SL is an icon. It blends a prodigious technology portfolio with sumptuous luxury like few convertibles can. It's aging but gracefully so. … The current car, however, is still at the top of its game." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "Speed, luxury and style are backed by six decades of excellence and international prestige. This sixth generation of the iconic SL is all that and more. More than a car, the SL is a statement of success that coddles its occupants with amenities like massaging seats and neck heaters." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
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2020 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

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