2018 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review
Edmunds expert review
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 for 2018
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.
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.
Noise & vibration6.0
Ease of use7.5
Getting in/getting out7.5
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.