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Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/4/2018 Motor Trend Staff

WE LIKE Punchy new high-tech straight-six

WE DON'T LIKE Poor chassis tune, body resonances on poor surfaces

First, the good news about the Mercedes CLS: Daimler's new straight-six engine—with its mild-hybrid integrated starter-generator, 48-volt electrics, and electric anti-lag compressor —is smooth and punchy. And the interior drips with the latest Mercedes-Benz tech, wrapped in expensive eye candy shared with the S-Class and E-Class.

a car parked in a parking lot© Motor Trend Staff

Now the bad news: The smooth-shouldered exterior doesn't have the striking presence or elegant beauty of the Audi A7. And the body structure feels underdone, with booming resonances from the rear of the cabin evident on some surfaces. "It seems like development wasn't finished before it was put into production," a surprised and disappointed Chris Theodore said.

Worse, the CLS chassis is a mess. The CLS 450 4Matic is blighted by massive power understeer and less-than-precise body control. And the AMG 53 may be the most disappointing AMG car ever. Although it's more buttoned-down than the CLS 450, the extra grunt AMG dialed into the new I-6 merely amplifies the chassis' flaws. Understeer is dogged, relentless, and unending on corner exit unless you're super careful with the throttle. Low-performance tires don't help; hard braking results in instant ABS intervention and the corner arriving quicker than you expected.

Chris Walton was stunned: "With all the technology and style one would expect but without the sophisticated ride or expected polish, the CLS 450 doesn't meet the self-set standards of Mercedes-Benz."

Jonny Lieberman further summarized: "The CLS should be Mercedes' design leader. It should drip whatever the German equivalent of sex appeal is, and it should drive 20 percent better than an E-Class. This car fails on all accounts. It looks like a blob and frankly doesn't drive much better than a blob."


• 2019 Car of the Year introduction
• Buick Regal
• Ford Mustang
• Ford Transit Connect
• Honda Clarity
• Hyundai Accent
• Hyundai Elantra
• Kia Forte
• Lexus ES
• Lexus LS
• Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
• Nissan Altima
• Toyota Avalon
• Toyota Corolla Hatchback
• Volkswagen Jetta

    a car parked on the side of a road© Motor Trend Staff
    2019 Mercedes CLS-ClassBenz 450 4MaticAMG 53 Turbo 4Matic+
    Base Price/As tested $75,000 (est)/$98,500 (est)$85,000 (est)/$115,000 (est)
    Power (SAE net) 362 hp @ 5,500 rpm (gas)/21 hp (elec)/362 hp (comb)429 hp @ 6,100 rpm (gas)/21 hp (elec)/429 hp (comb)
    Torque (SAE net) 369 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm/184 lb-ft (elec)/369 lb-ft (comb)384 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm (gas)/184 lb-ft (elec)/384 lb-ft (comb)
    Accel, 0-60 mph 4.9 sec4.1 sec
    Quarter-mile 13.4 sec @ 103.5 mph12.7 sec @ 109.0 mph
    Braking, 60-0 mph 117 ft115 ft
    Lateral Acceleration 0.90 g (avg)0.90 g (avg)
    MT Figure Eight 25.8 sec @ 0.72 g (avg)25.4 sec @ 0.74 g (avg)
    EPA City/Hwy/Comb Not yet ratedNot yet rated
    Vehicle Layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedanFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
    Engine/Transmission 3.0L turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6 plus elec motor/9-speed automatic3.0L turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6 plus elec motor/9-speed twin-clutch auto
    Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 4,406 lb (54/46%)4,474 lb (54/46%)
    Wheelbase 115.7 in115.7 in
    Length x Width x Height 196.4 x 74.4 x 55.3 in196.9 x 74.4 x 56.0 in
    Energy Cons, City/Hwy Not yet ratedNot yet rated
    CO2 Emissions, Comb Not yet ratedNot yet rated

    2019 Mercedes AMG CLS Class 53 Turbo 4Matic front three quarter in motion 1© Motor Trend Staff 2019 Mercedes AMG CLS Class 53 Turbo 4Matic front three quarter in motion 1

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