The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 Drive and Review By Larry Nutson

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Mercedes-Benz Specs, Comparisins and Prices-Mercedes Benz Buyers Guide 1997-2012

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550
Pay with an American Express Card

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

In 2006 Mercedes-Benz established an entirely new market segment – the four-door coupe – with the introduction of the CLS-Class. This vehicle class combines the out-on-the-town appeal of a coupe with the practicality of a 4-door sedan.

The all-new 2012 CLS-Class coupe represents the first major redesign of that car. The 2012 CLS line consists of three models, all powered by new biturbo direct-injection V8 engines and, for the first time, offers 4MATIC all-wheel-drive. MSRP's start at $71,300 for the CLS550, $73,800 for the CLS550 4MATIC and $94,900 for the high performance CLS63 AMG.

The underpinnings are all based on the E-Class but the exterior is very classy and unique. A real head-turner to which I can attest in my week-long drive in Chicagoland, especially in and about the Magnificent Mile. Restaurant valets and hotel doormen give you their attention very quickly.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

I don’t know how the interior could be any better, but then there is the Mercedes S-Class. This car is fast and the ride is very plush. It’s a four-seater with a low roofline. And yet, with enough room for two couples who are out on the town. Or, suitable for four on a weekend road trip with its 15.3 cubic foot trunk.

Comfort and convenience, performance and handling, as well as safety and security features abound. With 402 HP and a 7-speed automatic the CLS is very tractable around town and will very quickly merge onto any expressway. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is in a mere 5.2 seconds. Fuel economy has been significantly improved. EPA Fuel Economy Estimates are 17 city mpg and 26 highway mpg which will get take you up to 550 miles with its 21.1 gallon tank.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The only feature I found missing, and surprisingly, was a power-fold function for the outside rearview mirrors. A feature that I think is a luxury-car must-have in a big crowded city.

Mercedes-Benz has strived to put consumers in the driver’s seat and together with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS) has recently partnered with American Express to offer two co-branded cards. The Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes- Benz combine the best of both brands.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

This is the first automotive partnership for American Express with benefits geared toward Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts and lifestyle rewards. While most co-branded Cards in the automotive arena offer benefits at the dealership for products and services related to the cardholder’s vehicle, the Membership Rewards program from American Express allows cardmembers to earn and redeem points not only for travel and shopping but now for service or purchase of a Mercedes-Benz automobile.

MBFS has a Mobile Technology Strategy that I wrote about HERE on The Auto Channel in June.

Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) has introduced the Mercedes-Benz MY '12 CLS-Class iPad App. This application is the first of a series of MY '12 product apps and is available now through the Apple App Store for free. Users can find the app by searching "Mercedes-Benz 2012 CLS." The new CLS-Class iPad App puts a spin on traditional communications by providing a media-rich, eco-friendly channel for prospects to learn more about the CLS-Class

MBFS’s mobile account management solutions allow customers to make monthly vehicle payments, view detailed account information, locate a dealer, and find out what's new at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services - all from the palm of your hand. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services iPhone® App is “the coolest way to pay”.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

An option equipped on my CLS test car that I found very beneficial in crowded-Chicago is Parktronic. Parktronic uses a series of ultra-sound sensors in the front and rear bumpers to detect obstacles in the system’s field of view. The system provides audible warnings and displays the proximity of obstacles using bar graph displays – one on the center dashboard for the front and another for the rear that’s visible in the rear-view mirror.

Also, the sonar-based Parktronic and the new electric steering assist work together to provide Active Parking Assist, which makes parallel parking a stress-free cinch. Below about 20 mph, a “P” icon appears in the dash to show that an electronic parking space search is active. Whenever an adequate-size parking space is found, an arrow appears next to the “P” icon. When reverse is engaged and the driver confirms Active Parking Assist is desired, the system initiates automatic steering as the driver controls acceleration and braking at speeds below 7 mph. The system allows two forward corrections, after which the wheels are straightened.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2012 CLS550 certainly is high class. This terrific looking 4-door coupe may just be worth the extra cost over a traditional sedan.

© Larry Nutson