2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 5.5 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 7-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 518 hp @ 5250 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

  • We're not sure if it makes financial sense, but the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is one of the most lustworthy sedans on the road today.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Majestic V8 engines; beautifully crafted interior; abundant safety and convenience features; excellent ride and handling balance; distinctive styling.

  • Cons

    Two-person backseat with limited headroom; costs $10,000 more than the related Mercedes E550.

  • What's New for 2012

    The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has been completely redesigned for 2012 with bold new styling, an upgraded cabin, a choice of twin-turbo V8s and a significantly cheaper price.

Full 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Review

What's New for 2012

The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has been completely redesigned for 2012 with bold new styling, an upgraded cabin, a choice of twin-turbo V8s and a significantly cheaper price.


A "four-door coupe" might be an oxymoron, but it is one that nevertheless has proved to be a popular concept. Mercedes pioneered this with the original CLS-Class for 2006, taking the underpinnings of its E-Class midsize sedan and wrapping them in a curvaceous body with the sleek, sloping roof line indicative of a coupe. It might not have been as spacious or practical as a regular sedan, but its style was well worth the compromise. Today, you can see this concept on display throughout the price spectrum, from the 2012 Audi A7 and 2012 Jaguar XJ to the Hyundai Elantra and VW CC.

Now there is an all-new 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class that must not only improve upon its predecessor but also compete against the very cars it inspired. It's a tough task to be sure, but like the rest of the recently redesigned Mercedes-Benz models, the new CLS has been significantly improved while costing considerably less.

Starting things off is a new engine lineup that's both more powerful and more fuel-efficient. Benz's new twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 produces 402 horsepower in the CLS550, and if that's somehow not enough, the CLS63 sports a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that dumps either 510 hp to the rear wheels or 550 hp if you pony up for the AMG Performance Pack. The 2012 CLS also handles and rides better thanks to a more rigid structure and further refinements of the Airmatic adaptive suspension. New electric-assist power steering does a good job of replacing the old hydraulic unit, providing good feedback and a variable-ratio action that helps make the big CLS feel smaller than it is.

Inside the cabin, the build quality is better and the controls are easier to use, showcasing the strides Mercedes-Benz has taken to once again be considered a standard for the world. Comfort and convenience features are in abundance even before you sample the options list, while the number of safety features is truly impressive. There are 10 airbags (12 if you get the optional side bags for the rear seat), along with a multitude of electronic aids designed to keep you on the road, in your lane and paying attention.

Of course, the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is not without its compromises. The twin, rear bucket seats are still tight on headroom, and the CLS550 still costs about $10,000 more than a similarly equipped E550. Then there's the styling, which is pretty much what made the old CLS such a popular pioneer. The 2012 version has added a touch of aggression and muscularity to the soft, feminine curves of the old car, while still being a sleeker, more curvaceous take on current Benz sedan styling. However, many folks aren't fans of current Benz styling treatment for its sedans, and the CLS isn't likely to win their favor, either.

So not everyone will like this Benz, but that's usually the case with bold stylistic steps. The 2012 CLS might not be the pioneer its predecessor was, but it's a better car overall that can definitely handle whatever copycats come its way.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is a four-passenger, four-door sedan available in CLS550, CLS550 4Matic and CLS63 AMG trim levels.

The CLS550 and CLS550 4Matic come standard with 18-inch wheels, an adaptive air suspension, bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, auto-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats with memory functions and four-way lumbar adjustment, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and leather upholstery. Electronics features include a navigation system, real-time traffic, voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer, HD radio, satellite radio and digital music storage.

The CLS63 AMG adds a more powerful twin-turbo V8, a different transmission, 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, upgraded leather upholstery, a power rear sunshade, a split-folding rear seat (optional for the CLS550) and an iPod/USB audio interface. The AMG Performance package adds additional power, a higher top speed, a more aggressively tuned suspension, a carbon-fiber engine cover and rear spoiler, and a sport steering wheel trimmed in faux suede. Forged alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential and carbon-ceramic brakes are stand-alone options.

Available on either model, the Premium 1 package adds adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, a rearview camera, a power trunk closer, keyless ignition/entry, and heated and ventilated front seats. On the CLS550, this package includes a power rear sunshade and an iPod/USB audio interface. The CLS63 version includes front seats with active bolsters and massage.

The Lane Tracking package adds a blind-spot warning system and a lane-departure warning system. The Driver Assistance package gets adaptive cruise control and enhanced, active versions of the Lane Tracking items. The Parktronic package includes front and rear parking sensors and an automatic parking system. Stand-alone options include an infrared night-view display and heated rear seats. The CLS550 can be equipped with a heated steering wheel and massaging front seats with active bolsters.

Powertrains and Performance

The CLS550 features a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 that sends 402 hp and 443 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. In Edmunds performance testing, the CLS550 went from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds -- truly impressive performance for a V8-powered sedan of this size. Estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway for the CLS550, while 4Matic drops these estimates by 1 mpg each.

The CLS63 AMG gets a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that sends 518 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through a specialized seven-speed automatic transmission. If that's not good enough, the AMG Performance Pack pumps output to 550 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing with the Performance Pack, a CLS63 hit 60 mph in an incredible 3.9 seconds. Estimated fuel economy with the regular CLS63 engine tune is 15/22/19.


Every 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class gets standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front knee airbags, front side airbags (both torso and pelvic), full-length curtain airbags and Mercedes-Benz mbrace emergency telematics. Also standard is Attention Assist (a driver drowsiness and alerting monitor) and PreSafe (it anticipates an imminent crash and automatically takes measures to better secure occupants).

Options include rear side airbags, infrared night-view sensors and rearview parking sensors. The Driver Assistance package adds blind-spot and lane-departure systems; the active version of this package takes action should you fail to heed those warnings.

In Edmunds brake testing, a CLS550 with summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, which is excellent but just a tad better than average for the class. The CLS63 actually took a bit longer at 113 feet, but that's still excellent.

Interior Design and Special Features

As with the exterior, the CLS cabin takes the current Mercedes-Benz design aesthetic and makes it more organic and curvaceous. Materials are beyond reproach. The control layout is similar to the E-Class, though it swaps in an analog clock and the older knob-style climate controls in lieu of the newer toggle buttons. Stepping up to the CLS63 adds a chunky AMG wheel and fills the center console with AMG vehicle controls and the MCT transmission selector (complete with an embossed AMG crest) in lieu of the 550's electronic column shifter.

With its low, racy roof line and two-person backseat, the CLS isn't what we'd call the ideal people carrier. If you frequently ferry people around or have particularly tall friends, opting for an E-Class is probably a wiser idea. Trunk space is pretty generous, however, with 15.7 cubic feet available.

Driving Impressions

Simply put, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 drives beautifully. The adaptive air suspension and variable dampers provide secure handling and an impressive ride quality. The new electrically assisted steering offers good feedback, loads up naturally and quickens the more you turn, making the CLS feel smaller than it actually is. Also helping that effort is a "base" engine that utterly flattens you into your seat with a simple brush of the pedal. It's hard to imagine needing any more power.

But then you drop yourself into the CLS63, brushits pedal and feel yourself melt at the glorious burbling roar of the bigger twin-turbo V8 at work. This is a truly majestic power plant, and it's complemented beautifully by a transmission that swaps gears with surgical precision. Though a manual mode with paddle shifters is included, Sport+ mode is so adept at downshifting one or two gears during braking (accompanied by the glorious bark of an engine blip) that we found ourselves never using the paddles.

Handling is also exceptional. Like the 550, the AMG's steering feels light, but there is an abundance of feel fed to your hands that rewards a delicate touch. The three-mode suspension system eliminates body roll and brings the big CLS around corners without breaking a sweat. It's quite firm even in its Comfort setting, however, so those looking for a sumptuous ride should stick with the comfier yet still composed CLS550.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Without qualification of any kind

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS550 4dr Sedan (4.7L 8cyl Turbo 7A)

Handles and responds like a much smaller car. Comfort of a large sedan with the power of a sports car. Everything about this car is outstanding.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Smartly delivers mutually exclusive qualities

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS550 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (4.7L 8cyl Turbo 7A)

luxurious ride yet sharp handling, smooth and powerful yet efficient engine, efficient all wheel drive, craftmanship and styling; Incredible engineering achievement that grows on you with every mile and challenging road traveled; able to deliver traditionally mutually exclusive qualities: adaptive air suspension gives you flat cornering and sports car like reflexes with an S-class like ride quality; biturbo V8 engine pulls, revs, and hangs at the throttle like a sports car engine yet delivers routinely real world 28 mpg on spirited long distance highway/country road driving in a 4wheel drive 4200 pound car; the most impressive Mercedes in a generation !

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

Best car i have ever

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS550 4dr Sedan (4.7L 8cyl Turbo 7A)

I purchased this car two days ago, in palladium silver and black interior. So the only disclaimer for this review is that I have driven the car a total of 150 miles. Having owned several different models of Mercedes (including a 2011 E350, that I traded for this car), as well as BMWs and Porsches, I can honestly say that this is the finest vehicle I have ever driven. Power is more than abundant. Steering and handling are perfection. Exterior and interior build quality and styling give me goose bumps. Buy this car if you can.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

Emotionally engaging, visually pleasing, and

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS550 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (4.7L 8cyl Turbo 7A)

The safety features of a car are an important consideration for me. I decided to look into BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Currently, BMW does not offer a car that competes in this class (perhaps the 5 series Gran Turismo?) I was able to test drive the M-B CLS 4matic and the Audi A7. Audi did seem to have a sportier feel to it. Both cars have a wide array of technology and safety features, but M-B believes in taking a more pro-active role in terms of safety (Active Blind Spot Assist/Active Lane-Keeping Assist). The sensual sheet metal, safety features, exclusivity, and twin turbo 4.6L V8 with 4matic sold me on the M-B. I had no idea that a car could be so interactive, functional, & beautiful.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Cls 550s

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Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS550 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (4.7L 8cyl Turbo 7A)

I have owned Jags,Cadillacs and MB's. The last three 2005 Clk 550' 2008 Cls 500'20011Cls 550 and now 2012 Cls 550 after hitting a deer. This is the best car I have ever driven.Power is incredible and it draws people wherever we go. I may never change. Averaged 22.7 on a trip to NYC.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

One of the best latest

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS550 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (4.7L 8cyl Turbo 7A)

This car has got it all: style, comfort, sportiness, oppulence, neck-snapping performance, build quality that reminds me of 1990's Mercedes, and the safety and security of AWD. I get countless compliments and stares while driving the car and the interior styling is quite impressive as well. Even with the airmatic suspension set in sport mode and the transmission engaged in its sport setting, everything is just buttery smooth. It's truely an outstanding car.

Talk About The 2012 CLS-Class

Read more about the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Identifix Reliability Ratings

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