2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review

With its comfortable ride, superb engines and classy interior, the SL-Class is an outstanding convertible.
4 star edmunds overall rating
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

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.

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.



what's new

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is unchanged other than some minor changes to standard feature availability.


we 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.




trim levels & features

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.



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.

trim tested

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.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

4.5 / 5.0

Acceleration5.0 / 5.0
Braking4.0 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability4.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration2.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5.0
Visibility3.5 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
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.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The V8 has tremendous power. It accelerated to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds in our testing. Huge reserves of thrust at any rpm.

braking

edmunds rating
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.

steering

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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.

handling

edmunds rating
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.

drivability

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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.

comfort

edmunds rating
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.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
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.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
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 & vibration

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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.

interior

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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 use

edmunds rating
The cabin is intuitively laid out. The climate control knobs for temperature are big. The buttons for other functions are small.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
A low stepover and a reasonable sill width facilitate getting in and out of the SL-Class gracefully.

visibility

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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.

quality

edmunds rating
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.

utility

edmunds rating
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.

technology

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.

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.