2011 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

2011 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review

Note: This review was created when the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class was new.

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL offers a blend of luxury, performance and comfort that reviewers appreciate. They say it’s not as sporty as the Porsche 911 Carrera, but think the SL is a great option for shoppers who won’t do more than cruise around town with the top down.

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable handling dynamics
  • Automatic convertible hard-top
  • Luxurious interior fit and finish
  • Competitors offer stealthier sports performance
  • Brakes get mixed reviews
  • Confusing COMAND infotainment system

Research & Ratings

Currently, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has a score of 8.8 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 55 pieces of research and data.




Critics' Rating: 9.1
Performance: 8.5
Interior: 8.7
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Overview

The automotive industry says the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK is a go-to convertible for shoppers in search of a sports car that’s quick, comfortable and has a luxurious interior fitted with high-tech options. In this respect, the SL doesn’t disappoint. Most test drivers say the SL’s V8 engine is smooth and powerful. The cabin is one of the nicest on the market and can be equipped with several upscale features like AIRSCARF, a heating vent located in the headrests that keeps the driver warm while they drive. The SL also has a very spacious interior. According to reviewers it can seat passengers who are over six feet tall, which isn’t something all sports cars can boast.

Still, the Mercedes-Benz SL isn’t perfect. The SL’s engine isn’t wimpy, but there are more powerful options like the Nissan GT-R and Dodge Viper.  Also, most test drivers really dislike Mercedes’ counterintuitive COMMAND system, which integrates navigation, audio and communication systems, and forces drivers to use one knob to manage them. But if you’re willing to accept these flaws, the SL is a great option for those after a roadster that will get them noticed.

Other Sports Cars to Consider

If you want a sports car with a generous portion of luxurious interior features, look at the BMW 6-Series and the Jaguar XK. The 6-Series is only available as a convertible and starts at about $91,000. The XK, however, comes as coupe or convertible. The coupe starts at about $83,000, and the convertible starts at $89,000. Both are packed with a ton of upscale features, but there is one common complaint: the technology systems that integrate the navigation, entertainment and audio controls are very difficult to master. Unfortunately, you won’t escape this problem if you choose the SL; many reviewers slam its COMMAND system for being confusing.

For the best performer, test drive the Porsche 911 Carrera and the Nissan GT-R, but keep in mind that the Carrera is available as a soft-top convertible, and the GT-R only comes as a hardtop. Get the GT-R if you want good performance and a lot of interior features at a good price. Granted, the nearly $90,000 GT-R is out of range for most shoppers, but when you look at its standard features, the GT-R is a good deal. It has a 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine and comes standard with navigation, a USB iPod interface, Bluetooth and many other tech features.

Then there’s the Porsche 911 Carrera. In comparison to the GT-R, its engine is smaller: a 3.6-liter V6, but the Carrera isn’t shy once it hits the road. The Carrera, however, doesn’t have as many standard features. It comes with Bluetooth and a universal audio interface, but you’ll pay extra for power seats, navigation and a Bose surround system. The Carrera cabriolet starts at about $89,000, and once you add tech features, a special paint color or Porsche’s special ceramic brakes, you’ll pay well over $90,000.

Details: 2010 Mercedes-Benz SL

The Mercedes-Benz SL has undergone a few changes for the 2011 model year. All models get a tire-pressure monitoring system, HD Radio and a satellite navigation system with real time traffic information that’s provided by SIRIUS. Non-AMG SL models also get Direct Steer, a system that Mercedes says provides a on-center feel. This year, a SL550 Night Edition is also available. It has a special coat of Magno Night black paint and a black leather interior. Mercedes only produced 100 Night Edition models.

The SL550 starts at about $103,000, making it one of the most expensive options in its class.

  • "It's hard to call a vehicle priced at or above $100,000 a good value, particularly one that can only accommodate two people. The SL-Class, though, makes as compelling a case as any. These convertibles are fresh looking, solidly built, impeccably finished, and a pleasure to drive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "SL has been a mighty fine all-around luxury two-seater since this basic version launched in 2002. Mercedes has reworked it since then, but eight years later, I'm pretty much over it. There are a lot of enticing, fresher options available today at this price point. No way could someone talk me into this car rather than, say, a Porsche 911S Cabriolet, to name one. True, the Porsche is arguably no fresher than this Mercedes from an appearance standpoint (and some would say that has been the case for more than 30 years), but that car certainly delivers on the driving front." -- AutoWeek
  • "The SL-Class retractable-hardtop roadster competes in the upper-crust sport-luxury market with the likes of the Cadillac XLR and Jaguar XK convertible." -- Cars.com
  • "To the contrary, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is such a seamless blend of luxury and performance that we wonder how Mercedes' engineers can improve upon it." -- Edmunds

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