2020 Mercedes-benz CLS Expert Review

Mercedes likes to call the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 a “coupe,” but it’s actually a 4-door sedan with a sleek fastback roofline. And it’s not just any old sedan: The CLS is based on the premium E-Class midsize sedan, so there’s good substance beneath all that style.

As in 2019, the 2020 CLS 450 is powered by a turbocharged inline-6, a 362-horsepower 3.0-liter that’s supplemented by an electric motor mounted between engine and transmission. The 48-volt electric motor, with 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, serves as the starter motor for the engine while also kicking in to assist take-offs and smoothen gearshifts.

If you’re looking for a practical German midsize sedan, the E 450, with its greater interior volume and larger trunk, may be the smarter choice, even though its engine is a V6 (also a 3.0-liter with 362 horsepower). But if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of practicality in the name of truly head-turning style, the CLS 450 makes a compelling case.

Driving the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS

From the driver’s seat, the Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 feels long, low and wide, and vehicle speed is a bit deceptive because the power delivery and gear changes are so smooth. The integrated starter/generator and an auxiliary electric blower eliminate any sense of turbocharger lag, and the acceleration out of corners is outstanding, particularly when the CLS is equipped with optional 4Matic all-wheel drive. The fuel-saving automatic start is the smoothest we’ve felt in a Mercedes, and a quiet cabin beautifully complements the drivetrain’s refinement.

Neat detail: In certain situations (in Eco mode, with stop/start not defeated), when the driver lifts off the throttle on a level or slightly downhill highway, the 6-cylinder engine will shut off and allow the CLS to coast or “sail” down the road under electric power to save fuel. But the moment the driver dips back into the throttle, the engine automatically restarts and resumes propelling the CLS 450 down the road.

Driving the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS

ROUTE-BASED SPEED ADAPTATION

With this system, which ties into the vehicle’s COMAND map data, the CLS 450 will slow automatically as it approaches corners, intersections, roundabouts, toll booths or exit roads.

LARGE DIGITAL INFORMATION SCREENS

The dashboard of the CLS 450 features a huge digital screen that looks like a tall iPad set on its side in landscape fashion. All vital driving info appears behind the steering wheel, while the infotainment and various other car functions appear closer to the center of the car.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS Interior

Although the CLS 450 technically is a 5-seater, you should reserve the middle back seat for small kids. That stated, the CLS interior is an attractive, high-quality cabin featuring attractive wood trim and sweeping shapes influenced by the exterior lines of the car.

A wide digital display on the CLS dash features a large 12.3-in. high-resolution infotainment screen, plus an optional 12.3-inch digital instrument display that’s highly configurable. While you might think glare would present a problem, given the large flat plane of glass that’s employed, a small hood covered in stitched synthetic leather (called MB-Tex by Mercedes) eliminates that potential problem.

Multiple other controls are integrated into the thumb panels on the CLS steering wheel, and the multipurpose COMAND controller is situated perfectly for the driver’s right hand. Moreover, the front seats, despite large side bolsters, provide long hours of comfort, with adjusters positioned for easy access on the door panels. The rear seat, divided 40/20/40, folds forward for improved cargo capacity, but the CLS trunk, at 11.9 square feet, is smaller than a Honda Civic’s.

Also notable: When the temperature of the CLS’s climate control is raised, its turbine-like dash vents briefly turn red. When cooler air is requested, they go blue. Fun. Just like the 64 colors of ambient lighting available inside the new CLS.

Favorite Features

Like the two generations of CLS before it, this CLS brings some coupe sleekness to a 4-door sedan. It succeeds, even if the impact isn’t quite as strong as it was when the first-generation CLS made its debut. Creases and character lines are deliberately few.

The grille has the diamond effect that Mercedes-Benz gives to its 2-door cars. And the elegant frameless side windows are another cue taken from the company’s coupes. Don’t worry about wind and road noise, though. Mercedes-Benz, unsurprisingly, has that covered. Aerodynamic efficiency is enhanced by panels beneath the engine bay and special alloy wheels.

New for 2020, the hoods of all CLS 450s now incorporate a pair of power domes.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS Standard Features

As you’d expect of this Mercedes, the CLS 450 is packed with many standard features, including leather upholstery, navigation, AMG body styling, 19-inch alloy wheels and LED exterior lighting. Other standard fare on the 2020 CLS includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, keyless entry/ignition, remote start, a power tilt/slide sunroof, power-adjustable/heated front seats, ambient LED cabin lighting, wood trim, two USB ports and an electronic trunk closer.

On the safety front, the CLS 450 has standard blind-spot monitoring in addition to Active Brake Assist, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS Interior

Options on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 include all-wheel drive, Air Body Control air suspension, a head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, 3-zone climate control and four types of Nappa interior leather. Among the available options packages are a Driver Assistance Package (which has active cruise control), a Warmth & Comfort Package (with quick-heat seats) and another package with massaging front seats.

On the safety front, rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree camera are available, and the two optional stereos are highlighted by a 1,450-watt Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound system with 23 speakers and five preset listening modes.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS Engine

The 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 in the 2020 Mercedes CLS is a silky-smooth powerplant that develops a muscular 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, with the integral starter/generator adding another 21 horses and 184 lb-ft of torque.

A 9-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles sends power to the rear wheels (RWD), or all four (AWD) wheels with 4Matic. This unique powertrain may not be a hybrid in the usual sense, but it does contribute to the CLA’s refinement and good fuel economy.

3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6/48-volt electric motor & lithium-ion battery
362 horsepower @ 5,500-6,100 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg (RWD), 23/30 mpg (AWD)
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS Exterior

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 is $69,950, plus a destination charge of $995. With all-wheel drive, the CLS 450 4Matic starts at $72,450.

A Premium Package, with the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a Burmester Surround Sound stereo, adds $2,300. A Driver Assistance package, with active cruise control and a cross-traffic alert, is $2,250. Active Body Control air suspension costs $1,900, and the available head-up display can be yours for $1,100.

For the record, a well-equipped 2020 CLS 450 4Matic can touch $95,000. Main rivals include the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe, which starts at $84,900, and the Audi A7, which begins at $69,000 and also has a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new CLS 450. Resale values are in line with those of the Audi A7.

Which 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS Model is Right for Me?

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450

  • 362-horsepower inline-6
  • EQ Boost starter/generator
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Leather interior, heated front seats
  • 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds

 
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic

  • 362-horsepower inline-6
  • EQ Boost starter/generator
  • All-wheel drive
  • Leather interior, heated front seats
  • 0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds

None

So happy to be able to change something and make it cooler than the original

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