2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review
Edmunds expert review
It's been a few years since the iconic SL roadster's last redesign, so this is a perfect time for a little nip and tuck. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class gets a significant styling refresh that incorporates the company's latest design language, making it look sleeker and more modern. The improvements aren't just skin-deep, though, as the base SL450 (previously the SL400) and SL550 both get power increases and a new nine-speed transmission. Add a smattering of extra standard features, and you've got a compelling case for upgrading to this year's model.
With these improvements, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class reaffirms its position at the top of the luxury-roadster hierarchy. Few cars can compete with the SL's intoxicating blend of performance, luxury, class and refinement. Even the base V6-powered SL received one of the strongest Edmunds "A" ratings we've ever awarded. Step up to V8 or V12 power, and you'll enjoy the same superb fundamentals along with even more silky-smooth thrust.
As good as this Mercedes roadster is, it's not the only choice. The Porsche 911 is a fantastic alternative, though it's definitely more of a sports car than a touring car. The same holds true for the new Audi R8 and Jaguar F-Type. At the top of the range, the $200,000-plus AMG SL65 could be cross-shopped with the exquisite Bentley Continental, too. But the bottom line is that the SL-Class lineup is an embarrassment of riches. When so many things are so right, you really can't go wrong.
Standard safety features for all 2017 Mercedes SL-Class models include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, side airbags, side curtain airbags, knee airbags, a drowsy driver warning system, a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, Mercedes' Pre-Safe system (cinches seat belts and raises the windows when an imminent collision is detected), Mbrace emergency telematics, pop-up roll bars and active head restraints.
A rearview camera is standard on the SL550 and above (optional on the SL450). The SL65 comes standard with the otherwise optional blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist and the Pre-Safe Plus system that detects potential rear collisions, engages the Pre-Safe protection measures and can apply the brakes to prevent secondary collisions.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is a two-seat convertible with a power-folding hardtop. There are four trim levels: SL450, SL550, AMG SL and AMG SL65.
Standard features for the SL450 include 19-inch wheels, a power windblocker, LED headlights and running lights, automatic high beams, headlight washers, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning and mitigation, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, selectable drive modes and an adaptive suspension.
Inside, you get dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, sun-reflecting leather upholstery, 12-way power, heated seats with four-way power lumbar and memory functions, tri-color adjustable ambient lighting, a navigation system with real-time traffic, voice controls, Mercedes' Mbrace emergency telematics, Bluetooth, the COMAND infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, and an 11-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a six-CD changer and satellite and HD radio.
The SL550 adds a V8 engine, AMG-branded 19-inch wheels, a power trunklid with hands-free activation, a rearview camera, an automated parking system, the Airscarf neck-level heater, and ventilated seats with active side bolsters and massage functions.
The AMG SL receives a more powerful handcrafted V8 engine, high-performance drive and suspension settings, Active Body Control (mitigates body roll while cornering), upgraded brakes, a limited-slip differential, unique AMG gauges and other AMG-themed aesthetic flourishes, a dashtop analog clock made by IWC, upgraded leather upholstery and a faux-suede headliner.
At the top of the SL food chain is the AMG SL65, which gets a V12 engine, staggered-diameter wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear), adaptive LED headlights, the Magic Sky electrochromic dimming roof, soft-closing doors, adaptive cruise control, rear collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist and a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.
Most of the fancier trims' premium features are optional on lesser models. All SLs are eligible for a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot and many interior upholstery and trim upgrades. AMG models can be outfitted with carbon-ceramic brakes and carbon-fiber exterior trim.
Powering the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL450 is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control sends power to the rear wheels. Mercedes estimates it will reach 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, but that's the time we recorded in its SL400 predecessor with 33 fewer horsepower, so the estimate is likely conservative.
The SL550 pairs the nine-speed automatic with a turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 that's good for 449 hp (20 more than last year) and 516 lb-ft of torque. It can sprint to 60 mph in an estimated 4.3 seconds.
Ther AMG SL heats things up with a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 producing 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. It gets a high-performance, seven-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes claims a 0-60-mph time of 4.0 seconds.
Finally, the AMG SL65 keeps the seven-speed transmission but steps up to a turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that churns out a prodigious 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes estimates it will reach 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
EPA fuel-economy estimates stand at 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway) for the SL450 and 20 mpg combined (17 city/25 highway) for the SL550. The AMG SL is rated at 19 mpg combined (16 city/25 highway), while the AMG SL65 drops to 16 mpg combined (13 city/22 highway).
Even the "entry-level" SL450 delivers smooth and potent power that will quicken your pulse, while the new nine-speed automatic is unobtrusive yet gratifyingly responsive. Add in strong brakes and confident handling, and it's easy to see why the V6-powered SL is so highly regarded by our editors. Choose a V8 or the V12 and you'll have still more capability, especially when Active Body Control (ABC) is specified. ABC now boasts a "curve tilting function" that actually tilts the car into a corner rather than allowing it to roll to the outside.
As strong as the SL-Class is on performance, it remains a comfortable touring car at its core. If you're looking for a sportier alternative, the AMG GT should hit the spot. For most, however, the class and refinement of the Mercedes-Benz SL will make it hard to beat.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is built more for comfort than all-out performance. Taller and larger drivers will find an abundance of space, and the wide range of seat adjustments ensure that virtually all occupants will find their ideal position. The multi-contour seats (standard on the SL550 and above) further enhance comfort with adjustable side bolsters for lateral support and massage functions to alleviate fatigue on longer drives. On warmer days, the sun-reflective leather and cooled seats will keep you from overheating, and when the weather turns, the Airscarf will keep you comfy with a warm breeze on the back of your neck.
The SL also benefits from the available Magic Sky glass roof that allows you to enjoy a clear panoramic sunroof or transition to dark-tinted glass at the flip of a switch. Obviously, there's still the allure of open-top touring, and now the power-folding top can be operated at speeds up to 25 mph. Buffeting and wind noise are kept in check by the power windblocker, allowing you to have a conversation on the highway without raising your voice.
Materials quality is excellent throughout the cabin, meeting expectations for a car in this lofty price range. As with other Mercedes vehicles, the COMAND infotainment system takes a little time to get acquainted with, but after a short while the menu structure begins to make sense.
Convertibles with folding hardtop roofs typically sacrifice quite a bit of cargo space when the top is down, but the SL manages to provide a decent 8.5 cubic feet of capacity. With the top up, there's a full 13.5 cubic feet available. The hands-free trunk opener (standard on the SL550) makes loading easier by popping the trunk with just a swipe of your foot under the rear bumper.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.