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Inside and out, the shapely Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class midsize four-door not only looks great, it exudes a virtually timeless appeal. With the CLS-Class, the German automaker helped popularize what’s been called the modern four-door coupe design phenomenon. That is, a four-door sedan with a sloping roofline resembling that of a stylish two-door coupe.
Little has changed since a significant revamp for the 2012 model year. During 2016, Mercedes-Benz has been gradually making its excellent 9-speed automatic transmission standard equipment, starting with the V8-powered CLS550.
Mercedes-Benz also offers a CLS400 with a V6 engine, plus a super-powered AMG CLS63 S that promises startling performance and handling qualities. A new Night Package for the AMG model blacks out some chrome trim.
All powertrains are potent and capable. The Mercedes-Benz CLS400 gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine rated at 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. A brisk performer, the CLS400 never lags in traffic, and passes easily at any speed.
The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 uses the familiar 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8, here developing 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet, yielding even more vigorous acceleration.
Both CLS-Class versions come with either rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS63 S 4MATIC features a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that cranks out 577 horsepower and all-wheel drive to tame the beast.
Initially installed only in rear-drive CLS550 models, the 9-speed automatic transmission goes into 2016 CLS-Class 4MATIC versions as well. For now, at least, the CLS400 retains a 7-speed automatic. So does the AMG model.
Mercedes-Benz’s latest interior design theme looks great in the CLS-Class, enveloped in luxurious leathers and woods, seamlessly melding classic and high-tech themes. The large, luxurious cabin blends with its exquisite body, potent powertrains, and high-tech features. On the other hand, back-seat headroom is somewhat tight, at least for taller riders.
Standard equipment includes the Mercedes-Benz Audio 20 CD system, with Bluetooth audio streaming, satellite radio, a Gracenote music database, plus 10 GB of hard-drive music storage. Upgrades include a 610-watt, 14-speaker harman/kardon LOGIC7 surround-sound system, and a costly Bang & Olufsen setup.
The CLS-Class has not been crash-tested by either federal safety officials or the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Mercedes-Benz invariably provides abundant technology, much of it safety-related. Plenty of entertainment, information, and safety features are included or available. Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system, with an 8-inch color display, is not universally acclaimed.