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MSRP: $89,150 - 154,450

2019 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SL makes a great luxury cruiser and earns a spot in the top half of our luxury sports car rankings. It is powerful and features a top-notch interior, but it's not as athletic as some other cars in the class.

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful engines
  • Smooth ride
  • Sublime seats
  • Good trunk capacity
  • Cabin is not well-insulated from outside noise
  • Some rival infotainment systems are more intuitive

Is the Mercedes-Benz SL a Good Car?

Yes, the Mercedes-Benz SL is a good car, and it's hard to find a sporty luxury convertible that's clearly better. All three of its engine options deliver lots of power and eager acceleration. This Mercedes handles well, and it rides smoothly. The SL's interior, though showing the age of its design a bit, still ranks among the best in the class. The seats are stellar, and there are plenty of tech offerings. There are a few weak spots, however. Many rivals have easier-to-use infotainment systems, and a few – like the SL's lineup mate the Mercedes-AMG GT – deliver more agile handling.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz SL?

The SL is a perfect choice for buyers who want an energetic luxury car that's ideally suited for top-down cruising. It carries a high price tag, but so do many other high-end sports cars. There are plenty of great choices in this class, however, so you'll probably want to see how the SL stacks up against rivals like the BMW 8 Series and the Porsche 911.

Compare the SL, 8 Series, and 911 »

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

The 2019 SL belongs to a generation that began with the 2013 model year. The big change for 2019 is that one of the two high-performance models – the Mercedes-AMG SL 65 – has been dropped from the SL's lineup. There weren't any notable changes for 2018, but the 2017 SL got a new base engine with 33 extra horsepower. The 2017 model also received updated exterior styling, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

You could potentially save thousands by shopping for a used SL. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2017 and 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 SL »

We Did the Research for You: 30 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This review uses applicable research and data from all model years of the current SL generation, which runs from 2013 to 2019.

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?

The SL 450, which is this Mercedes' entry-level trim, starts at around $89,000. About half the class has a starting price under $65,000, while most of the rest start at around – or significantly above – $90,000. So even though the SL is expensive, it isn't too bad compared to its competition. The range-topping AMG SL 63 sports a starting price of around $154,000. Only a few rivals have top trims that cost much more than that.

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 is a brand-new model for 2019. It comes with a 523-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine, making it more powerful than every SL except the AMG SL 63. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. No SL trim, including the AMG, comes in under 4 flat. Additionally, the 8 Series rides smoothly and handles well for its size. Unlike the two-seat SL, which is only available as a roadster, the 8 Series comes in coupe and convertible body styles and seats up to four. The rear seats are pretty cramped though.

The BMW has a few driver assistance features the Mercedes doesn't, like a head-up display and a surround-view camera. These two cars are close in many ways. The 8 Series is a bit more athletic, while the SL is a bit nicer inside. But factor in the SL's starting price – around $22,000 less than the base 8 Series – and it becomes clear that the Mercedes is a better choice for most buyers.

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

The Porsche 911 is an iconic sports car, and as you might expect, it delivers superior handling and much more track-worthy performance than the SL. Unlike the Mercedes, the Porsche offers all-wheel drive and a manual transmission, and it's available in several body styles, including hardtop coupe, convertible, and Targa.

The 911 has more engine choices than the SL, with horsepower ratings ranging from 370 to 690, and all of them let this car hustle through any driving situation. 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. Choosing between these cars comes down to whether you prefer an opulent athlete or a posh cruiser.

Compare the SL, 8 Series, and 911 »

SL Performance

SL Engine: Only Good Options

All three of the SL's twin-turbocharged engines, from the base model's 362-horsepower V6 to the AMG model's 577-horsepower V8, are energetic and powerful. All move the SL easily, but the two V8s really deliver the kind of power you expect from a sports car.

SL Gas Mileage: Not Too Bad

The SL 450 leads the lineup, earning 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, which are solid ratings for the class. With the V8 engines, ratings drop by 3-5 mpg.

For comparison, the Jaguar F-Type gets 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, though the F-Type comes with a turbo-four engine. With its V6, the Jaguar and Mercedes get about the same miles per gallon.

Fuel economy with the SL's V8 engines are on par with V8-powered classmates like the Mercedes-AMG GT and Lexus LC 500.

SL Ride and Handling: Sporty and Sophisticated

The SL is designed to be more of a cruising car than a track-day special (for that, you want the Mercedes-AMG GT or Acura NSX), but it's fun to drive and has nimble handling on winding roads. It rides smoothly, absorbing road imperfections with ease.

Read more about performance »

SL Interior

How Many People Does the SL Seat?

The SL seats two. There's plenty of space, even for tall adults, which is unusual for a roadster. The seats are extremely comfortable, and they're easy to get in and out of, unlike those in some other sports cars.

SL and Car Seats

There are no LATCH car-seat connectors in this roadster.

SL Interior Quality

Inside, the Mercedes SL may not have the most modern design or the quietest cabin, but its classic styling looks great, and there are premium materials throughout the interior. Overall, this is a sumptuous cabin that's among the best in the class, and few cars – other than super luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class – are more opulent.

SL Cargo Space

This Mercedes provides more cargo room than many sports cars – 13.5 cubic feet of trunk space with the top up. That's enough room for about 10 shopping bags. With the top down, capacity drops to 8.5 cubic feet, but that's still ample space for two golf bags.

SL Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include a power-retractable hardtop, a panoramic sunroof, and the COMAND infotainment system with a 12.3-inch display screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB ports, satellite radio, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. Available features include a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

On the surface, there aren't many reasons to complain about the COMAND infotainment system, as it works pretty well. However, it isn't as intuitive as some rivals' systems, and it has a smaller display screen.

Read more about interior »

SL Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz SL Reliable?

The 2019 SL earns a good predicted reliability rating – four 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

Like most luxury sports cars, the 2019 SL has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

SL Safety Features

The SL comes standard with a rearview camera, driver drowsiness monitoring, and Mercedes' Pre-Safe, which automatically tightens seat belts and rolls up windows if it detects an imminent collision. Available driver assistance features include front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular park assist, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and Pre-Safe Plus, which prepares the vehicle when it detects a rear collision.

Read more about safety »

Which Mercedes-Benz SL Model Is Right for Me?

Mercedes offers three SL trims: the base SL 450, the SL 550, and the AMG SL 63. All feature a powerful engine, an automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, and a power-retractable hardtop.

The higher trims have more standard features, but almost every comfort and convenience feature is available in every trim, so the powertrain is the main difference between the three. With that in mind, the base SL 450 is a great choice for most buyers. Its engine is plenty powerful, and you can get this trim fully loaded for less than you'd pay for the SL 550.

Mercedes-Benz SL 450

The SL 450 carries a base price of $89,150. It comes with a 362-horsepower V6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, heated seats, a rearview camera, driver drowsiness monitoring, Pre-Safe, and the COMAND infotainment system with a 12.3-inch display 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 $113,550. The 550 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, Airscarf, and a hands-free power trunk lid. As with the base trim, several more features are available, both individually and as part of a package.

Mercedes-AMG SL 63

The AMG SL 63 starts at $154,450. This high-performance trim features a 577-horsepower V8 engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It also comes with performance upgrades like a limited-slip differential and stronger brakes. It offers many of the same features that are available in the SL 550.

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 2019 Mercedes-Benz SL specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SL isn't quite as athletic as some of its brethren, but it’s still a fun-to-drive luxury sports car. The SL is a more comfortable cruiser than many similarly dynamic vehicles, and it features a top-notch interior. Add it up, and you've got a great car that holds up well in a highly competitive segment. That's why it finishes in the top half of the class rankings.

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

  • "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, and the 2019 model will likely be the last year of this generation. The current car, however, is still at the top of its game." -- Edmunds
  • Calling the Mercedes-Benz SL-class a sports car is only telling half the story. This car offers a compelling blend of passenger comfort and driving excitement. It's more than competent on a twisty road, and both of its available powertrains … provide plenty of forward thrust. Drop the top, select Comfort mode, and switch on the optional massaging seats; it's a luxury car that just happens to resemble a low-slung sports car. … Even though it's aging, it still looks as good at speed as it does when parked at the front of the valet line, and its dual personality makes it perfect for a glamorous night out." -- Car and Driver (2018)
  • "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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