2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test | Wrap-Up

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Long-Term Road Test

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Read the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG's introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG's long-term updates.

What We Got
New, the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG sold for $180,000. If there was a luxury option or accessory available on a Mercedes-Benz, it was on this car. Yet the real excitement was its 6.0-liter turbo V12. The engine generated 604 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque and was the pinnacle of AMG technology in 2005. Even its five-speed automatic transmission was heralded in the day.

Flip the calendar eight years.

There we stood in a Reno, Nevada, used-car dealership. In front of us was the same CL65 that turned heads in its prime. Horsepower, exclusivity, mechanical complexity: It was all there. A sticker on the window read 56,000 miles and $34,000. We made one last mental calculation of the potential cost to maintain a car that multiple sources warned was significant, and then we pulled the trigger.


  • "On the first run, with traction control on and going straight from brake to full throttle, this nine-year-old car did zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. The rush of power is alarming, yet utterly smooth. If there ever was a deceptively fast car, it's this CL65." — Mike Monticello

  • "Yes, that's 674 lb-ft of torque and 528 horsepower to the wheels. Factoring in driveline loss, it's safe to say this thing is still plenty perky despite its near-double-digit age and almost sixty-thousand miles on the clock." — Jason Kavanagh

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG


  • "I managed to thoroughly trounce that on only our second tank of gas, letting the needle dip into the red and flirting with single-digit range remaining. The CL went 408.7 miles and drank 20.871 gallons of premium for an EPA-besting 19.6 mpg run at a pretty decent clip." — Mike Magrath

  • "I sadly failed to beat Mike Magrath's range and fuel economy record established with the very first fill during his drive back from Mercedes-Benz of Reno, but I did manage to put more gas into the car in one fill than anyone else. So, there's that." — James Riswick


  • "It was along this stretch in the Cascades where the CL65's Active Body Control displayed its talents beyond providing a serene ride. With an abundance of long, high-speed sweepers, ABC did its thing, keeping the car flat as Fresno through corners despite the ample speeds I was carrying." — James Riswick

  • "Our CL65's cabin is extremely quiet. Regardless of highway speed or bustling city noise, there is almost no impact on the interior. The radio can be played at a lower volume, conversations can be heard easily and commutes are less grating as a result." — Travis Langness

Cargo Space

  • "[The cupholders] are needlessly complex and aren't very good at holding anything larger than a can of soda." — Erin Riches

  • "You can open the trunk automatically by pressing the button twice on the key fob. But watch this video to see how quickly the trunk closes when you press the button on the trunk lid. I had to jump back out of the way." — Donna DeRosa


  • "After approximately nine years and 60,000 miles of use, the interior of our 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG still looks great and is holding up well. Sure, there are a few cosmetic marks and scuffs, and we're living with the instrument panel buzz because getting rid of it would cost $1,275 to fix. But the interior's overall construction is still tight. Nothing is warping or fading. And when I've driven the CL65 AMG down the highway and around town, I don't ever recall hearing any consistent panel rattles or squeaks." — Brent Romans

  • "Pillarless coupes like our CL65 are a rare breed these days.... Ditching the B-pillar makes for a very open-feeling cabin.... This is one of my favorite features of the CL65." — Ronald Montoya

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG

Audio and Technology

  • "We bought one of these Mercedes Bluetooth Module Cradle Adapters on eBay, pre-owned, for $249. It took me all of two minutes to set up.... As long as no one looks inside the secondary under-armrest bin, they'd never guess our 2005 Mercedes CL65 didn't leave the factory without Bluetooth." — James Riswick

  • "The seats in our CL65 do it all. They have three memory profiles, tons of adjustment options, a massage function and heated and cooled seatbacks. It's the cooled seats I'm taking issue with. They're just not cool." — Ron Montoya


  • "The battery was completely dead.... So we hooked up jumper cables from the Versa to the CL.... After shopping, I came out of the Whole Foods parking lot with my groceries only to find the CL65 dead again.... With both... hooked up, the CL65 finally started.... I'd need to get a new battery." — Brent Romans

  • "I am starting to think engine codes should include $ in them, like restaurant ratings: $ = you'll make it, $$ = postpone vacation another month, $$$ = leave the key and run." — Mike Schmidt


  • "The engine revs low, like an old-school big-block pushrod engine. But, no, this is an SOHC mill, albeit still with only two valves per cylinder.... Still, what a torque monster. It's too bad it's backed by such a mushy, syrupy automatic gearbox that saps out any snappiness this engine might have." — Jason Kavanagh

  • "The trip from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara was my first long drive in the big CL65. Around town the ride can smack at bumps, but on the open highway the CL65 is in its element. Pavement imperfections are smothered over with aplomb; the slow steering settles into a surprisingly appropriate groove; it is as unfazed by crosswinds as a Brinks truck. And the torque. Sweet mother of holy schnikes, the torque! The rate at which the speedo needle blazes across the face of the gauge is simply astonishing." — Jason Kavanagh

2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
We purchased a CL65 with 56,000 miles. At 60,000 miles significant factory parts were scheduled for replacement. So it can be argued that most of the work performed during our test was of the routine variety. Just not to the degree we expected. A year with the AMG cost us $11,551 and 41 days in the shop. Here is a summary:






Add oil warning light

Add 1 quart of oil.

$  7.00


ABC warning light

Replace burst hose between pump and valve block.

$ 1,217.75


Add oil warning light

Add 1 quart of oil.

$  7.00


Won't start

Could not duplicate. Stored misfire code but no engine light. Car started and ran at dealer.

$  -


Leaking fluid

Replace 4 ABC system damping spheres.

$ 2,141.27


Add oil warning light

Add 1 quart of oil.

$  7.00


License plate blub warning light

DIY bulb replacement.

$  5.96


Add oil warning light

Add 1 quart of oil.

$  7.00


Dead battery

DIY battery replacement.

$ 267.32


Add oil warning light

Add 1 quart of oil.

$  7.00


Service due warning light

B-Service: replace engine oil and filter, air filter, rear diff service, safety inspections.

$ 629.67


Nail in shoulder of tire

Replace Michelin Pilot Sport AS/3 in size 275/35R19

$ 331.00


Loud noise and check engine light

Replace right side ignition coil pack, spark plugs in cylinders 11 and 12, replace worn ABC pump bracket

$ 2,199.44


Tow hook cover missing

DIY paint and install of new cover

$ 130.00


Add oil warning light

Add 1 quart of oil.

$  7.00


Brake pad warning light, ABC warning light, Check engine light

Replace rear brake pads, replace burst hose between pump and dead-end, replace 24 spark plugs

$ 4,586.72


$ 11,551.13

Along the way, we gathered various quotes for low-priority items that we declined to repair. The first three on this list we brought to the dealer's attention, but the remainder were supplied to us without asking:






A/C aspirator motor making noise


$ 1,275.00


Trunk struts no longer working


$ 400.00


Mystery whirring noise from ABC pump bracket

Declined here, replaced gratis (above) at 65,631

$ 800.00


Replace cracking rear flex disc


$ 682.76


Replace rear tire


$ 1,030.64


Replace front/rear pads and rotors

Declined, partially

$ 2,756.35


Replace fuel filter


$ 482.70


Flush coolant


$ 288.82


Replace engine air filter


$ 144.25


Replace leaking turbo seals


$ 5,772.22


$ 13,632.74

Service Campaigns:
No recalls were issued during our test.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimates for the CL65 were 13 mpg combined (11 city/18 highway). We averaged 14.3 mpg after 16,000 miles of testing. The best single tank was 19.6 mpg and the best range 408 miles.

Resale and Depreciation:
We purchased our 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG for $34,000. At the conclusion of our test it had 72,048 miles and according to Edmunds private-party TMV®, was worth $25,000.

We learned the CL65 market was saturated with crickets. For a week we offered it for $27,500 on autotrader.com, ebaymotors.com, benzworld.org and mbca.org. Chirp. We dropped it to $24,900. Chirp, chirp. Our requisite stop at CarMax garnered a $15,000 offer, which we declined. After three weeks a buyer offered $20,000 and we agreed. For those keeping score, that's 41 percent depreciation from our purchase price. Compared to other used long-termers we have purchased in the past, the Mercedes' numbers aren't great. Our 1985 Ferrari 308 and 1985 Porsche 911, both sold for more than we bought them for. The CL65 is still not the king of depreciation, however, as the value of our 2002 BMW M3 dropped 43 percent during its term of service. 

Summing Up

Pros: Immensely powerful engine, quiet cabin, surprisingly capable handling for its size, great seats, classic design, affordable buy-in for a V12-powered car.

Cons: Ownership costs escalate quickly; even the most high-tech systems from 2005 feel archaic in 2015.

Bottom Line: Yes, you can buy a Mercedes-Benz with a hand-built V12 engine for less than the price of an average midsize SUV, but be prepared to spend the cost of a subcompact hatchback to keep it running in peak condition.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $11,551.13 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: None
Non-Warranty Repairs: See chart
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 7
Days Out of Service: 41
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: 7
Best Fuel Economy: 19.6 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 9.0 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 14.3 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $24,500 (private-party sale)
What it Sold for: $20,000
Depreciation: $14,000 (41% of paid price)
Final Odometer Reading: 72,048 miles

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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