2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review
2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Vehicle Test EngineerCalvin Kim is an automotive journalist at Edmunds.
- Interior is a model of luxury and refinement
- Effortless acceleration
- Excellent handling doesn't come at the expense of comfort
- Folding hardtop still allows for decent cargo space
- AMG models aren't as agile as similarly priced exotics
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is unchanged other than some minor changes to standard feature availability.
On the heels of a major update last year, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadster maintains its top position in the luxury convertible segment. Of course, all four engine options provide prodigious power, and the SL-Class' adaptive suspension soaks up the bumps and provides excellent agility when the road gets twisty. But it's the integration of these sporty attributes with a plush and quiet cabin, in addition to a few choice luxury features, that makes the SL-Class the gold standard for luxury convertibles.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL 450 2dr Convertible (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 9A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.92 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$208/mo for SL-Class SL 450
SL-Class SL 450
Avg. Compact Car
The SL-Class' power-retractable hardtop comes with a glass roof, which can be further optioned with an electrochromic feature that uses an electric current to adjust its opacity for when you want the view without the exposure to the elements. Alternately, Mercedes' Airscarf system blows warm air from the base of the headrest to keep necks warm on those top-down drives when you want just a little exposure. And a power-retractable wind deflector mitigates buffeting when top-down cruising at highway speeds for conversations and minimal hair-tussling.
There are sportier convertibles available. If that's what you want, look no further than Mercedes' own AMG GT, perhaps. But for an expert balance of both luxury and sport, there's nothing better than the SL-Class.
Edmunds' Expert Rating8.1 / 10
With unique features designed to improve top-down comfort, engines that produce gobs of power, and an interior that quietly coddles its occupants over countless miles, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class defines what a luxury grand touring convertible is all about.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG (turbo 5.5L V8 | 7-speed automatic | RWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current SL-Class has received some revisions but our findings remain applicable to this year's SL-Class.
|Overall||8.1 / 10|
The SL-Class has slightly synthetic handling but extremely capable. Midcorner bumps don't throw it off too badly. It's equal parts boulevardier and sports car, depending on your whims. Expect mega-power, surprising grip, powerful brakes and good manners.
The V8 has tremendous power. It accelerated to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds in our testing. Huge reserves of thrust at any rpm.
These carbon-ceramic brakes have terrific stopping power and lots of heat capacity. Modulation is a bit touchy at light pedal pressure when cold. The pedal is firm. Sixty mph to zero in 108 feet with very little nosedive or drama.
The appropriately quick steering develops some feel in harder driving. The buildup of effort is reasonably intuitive. Overall, the steering doesn't draw attention to itself, for better or worse.
The SL-Class is composed thanks to the Active Body Control system. It is sure-footed on winding roads and has heaps of grip. This is a heavy car that works surprisingly well at speed.
Departures from a standstill are graceful every time. Upshifts are smooth, but slowing down can sometimes be jerky due to transmission downshifting. The manual mode could be more responsive.
It is nearly as comfortable as it is fast, and that's no small feat. High refinement levels and very versatile seats make this roadster easily capable of long trips. There's more noise originating from the low-profile tires than you might expect.
The SL-Class has highly configurable seats that offer heating, cooling and massage. They even blow warm air on your neck. Lateral support could be better given this car's grip.
The ride is not obtrusive, but it is punctuated by tire noise. It's on the appropriately firm side but not harsh, and it doesn't come unglued on rough surfaces.
Noise & vibration6.0
Road noise is this car's black mark. The short-sidewall tires smack loudly against pavement and can thrum at times, depending on the road texture. The convertible top creaks occasionally. Levels of wind and engine noise are minimal.
The well-laid-out cabin offers a surprising amount of room as well as very easy entry and exit. The convertible top earns high marks for its quick, quiet and low-effort stowage. It does, however, compromise the cargo area.
Ease of use7.5
The cabin is intuitively laid out. The climate control knobs for temperature are big. The buttons for other functions are small.
Getting in/getting out7.5
A low stepover and a reasonable sill width facilitate getting in and out of the SL-Class gracefully.
There is reasonably good visibility considering the high rear deck and moderately wide rear pillars. The beltline and cowl are not too obtrusive, which facilitates the forward view.
The cabin design is handsome rather than adventurous. Aside from the artistic touches on the seats, the cabin shows restraint. Build quality is outstanding, and although the cabin controls are all parts-bin pieces, they work well.
The trunk is compromised by the need to stow the roof — there's a deployable shelf to separate out your cargo. Otherwise, it's a large trunk and there's enough cabin storage to be practical. The bonus space behind the seats helps a lot.
Even in standard guise, the SL-Class comes with a Harman Kardon surround-sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Most advanced driver aids are available.
Which SL-Class does Edmunds recommend?
There's no bad pick. Can't decide? The SL 550 represents an ideal middle ground. It's got the boffo V8 power you likely expect from this class of car but is more affordable than the AMG versions. Add the Driver Assistance package for its additional advanced safety features.
2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class models
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is a two-seat convertible with a power-folding hardtop and is available in four trim levels. The base SL 450 is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (362 horsepower, 369 pound-feet) and sends power to the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The SL 550 ups the power with a turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 (449 hp, 516 lb-ft). The AMG SL 63 comes with a bigger turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 (577 hp, 664 lb-ft), a seven-speed automatic and special performance hardware and styling elements. Finally, the AMG SL 65 tops the group with its turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 (621 hp, 738 lb-ft) and the seven-speed automatic.
Standard features for the SL 450 include 19-inch wheels, a power windblocker, LED headlights and running lights, automatic high beams, headlight washers, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning and mitigation, keyless entry and ignition, selectable drive modes and an adaptive suspension.
Inside, you get dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, sun-reflecting leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated seats, a navigation system, voice controls, Mercedes' Mbrace emergency communications, the COMAND infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB ports, and an 11-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a six-CD changer and satellite and HD radio.
The SL 550 adds AMG-branded 19-inch wheels, a power trunklid with hands-free activation, an automated parking system, the Airscarf neck-level heater, and ventilated seats with active side bolsters and massage functions.
The AMG SL 63 receives a high-performance drive and suspension settings, Active Body Control (which 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 International Watch Co., upgraded leather upholstery, and a simulated-suede headliner.
At the top of the SL food chain is the AMG SL 65, which gets staggered-diameter wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear), adaptive LED headlights, the Magic Sky Control 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 hotspot and many interior upholstery and trim upgrades. AMG models can be outfitted with carbon-ceramic brakes and carbon-fiber exterior trim.
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Hard decision was the right decision
2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL 450 2dr Convertible (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 9A)
There are lots of choices in today's marketplace for the person wanting a two seat sports roadster. I ordered my SL 450 on the day that the dealer was allowed to enter orders for the 2017 model year. The homework prior to selecting the SL 450 was many months of soul searching for the right car, and in the end my list of wants played a role in my final selection. I nixed many models and … brands because of over budget price and worthiness to be classified as a luxury roadster. My final decision was made on a budgeted amount I was willing to spend, overall styling, interior comfort, entry/exit, technology features, available options, ride quality, how well the engine was matched to the transmission, safety features, trunk space, outward visibility, and industry magazine articles. I have owned 1981 and 2001 Corvette's so I had that American experience behind me and fulfilled that past teenage desire to someday own a Corvette. As part of my research, I also considered and drove the Corvette Z51, the Jaguar F-Type, the Porsche Cayman S, and the Audi TT. They all had entry/exit issues and trunk space issues, and only the Corvette passed the interior comfort, technology, and ride quality test. The final decision became easy because the Sl 450 met my expectations in a luxury Roadster based on the 2016 model year, and automotive journal comments about the 2017 which I found to be accurate. The motor transmission match-up is an absolute joy, and the motor has plenty of torque to make the driver feel that he/she is not being held back by torque lag. I bought the Brilliant Blue, with the Designo Sand interior and Black Ash Trim, and it is a beautiful classic look. It has every option except for the Automatic Body Control and the Upgrade Sound System. The improvements over the 2016 SL 400 made it easy to wait for the 2017 model year. If you want a car that gets lots of looks and thumbs-up, this car pretty much does that. There is enough trunk space with the top closed to satisfy a week trip worth of luggage. With the top down, and the windows/wind screen up, you can easily carry on a conversation at interstate speeds. I own a GL 550, so moving from one to the other is very easy because the controls are very similar. I had concerns about the small video screen, but it has not been an issue. The only thing I had issues with was learning how to pre-set stations for the radio, its awkward and more complicated than it should be, but great to use once the up-to 100 pre-sets are programmed. I would not spend the additional $20,000.00 for the SL 550 unless you have a personal need to have that emblem on your car. The more I drive this car, the more I want to drive this car.
5 out of 5 stars
PURE SUBLIME ELEGANCE
2015 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL 550 2dr Convertible (4.7L 8cyl Turbo 7A)
This is my dream car. I love that its fast as lightning , beautiful to look at and the way it handles, but does it all in an effortless, professional way. It is so packed with luxury but is still a masculine car. do we really like to get punished in a Porsche just because we want to drive in a sports car? Maybe getting soft in my 40's but I like a quiet, smooth, UN-jarring ride mixed … with massive power and agility. I'm not competing on a race track. anyone saying this SL is anything less than totally sophisticated understated and beautiful is maybe upset that they don't own it. Update: excellent reliability still just as beautiful as the day I bought it.
5 out of 5 stars
DR. AMDG, 05/09/2020
2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL 63 AMG 2dr Convertible (5.5L 8cyl Turbo 7A)
Traded a really nice SL550 for an SL63 AMG. Really enjoyed the SL550, but the SL63 is simply in a different league. Comfortable ride and luxury appointments still remain, but the AMG magic transforms this already stellar platform into something incredible. Too many superlatives to list, but suffice it to say that the SL63 AMG may be one of the best cars ever made. Frightening power (at … any speed), a magnificent interior, refinement to a fault, and German/Mercedes/AMG (over)engineering are integral parts of this outrageous auto. And...664 lb/ft of torque!!! Drink the AMG Kool-Aid!
5 out of 5 stars
Live in your car, love what you drive!!!
Flo Bullock, 12/01/2019
2015 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL 400 2dr Convertible (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 7A)
Best car I have ever owned. It's solid, feels super safe. It' a fun drive! The trunk is deceiving. It fits more than you can imagine. Haven't had any problems with it other than a couple of minor things that were covered. It's almost 5 years old.
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, so we've included reviews for other years of the SL-Class since its last redesign.
2018 SL-Class Highlights
|Combined MPG||23 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$208/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Warranty||4 years / 50,000 miles|
Our experts like the SL-Class models:
- Magic Vision Control
- Keeps the windshield clean by spraying water directly from the wiper, minimizing overspray and maximizing windshield-washer fluid coverage.
- Attention Assist
- Warns you if the car detects irregular driving behavior, such as erratic steering inputs, commonly caused by drowsy driving.
- Pop-Up Roll Bars
- Detects an impending rollover and deploys a pair of roll bars behind the occupants' heads, helping minimize the effects.