Premium midsize car; Built in
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $36,000 – $83,000*

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG S-Model

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG S-Model

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG S-Model

  • Acceleration
  • Steering/handling
  • Rear-seat comfort
  • Ride (CLS63)

The CLS is based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It lacks that car’s rear seat room and cargo versatility, and it originally cost considerably more. For their money, buyers get svelte, dramatic styling and perhaps even more cache than the Mercedes brand already holds. Power and refinement are exemplary, and the CLS63 AMG offers more of both.


The redesigned 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was a midsize 4-passenger, 4-door luxury sedan with a coupe-like roofline. It was based on the E-Class sedan, and priced between the E-Class and the flagship S-Class in Mercedes’ lineup.

Mercedes introduced the original CLS for the 2006 model year, and called it a 4-door coupe. The car kicked off a niche class that was later joined by the Audi A7 and BMW 6-Series. The CLS also vied for sales against a variety of midsize luxury sedans from Europe, Japan, and the United States.

The 2012 CLS-Class was offered in CLS550, all-wheel drive CLS550 4MATIC, and high-performance CLS63 AMG models.

The CLS550 and CLS550 4MATIC were loaded with features, including a navigation system, leather upholstery, sunroof, harman/kardon audio system with 40-gigabyte music hard drive, satellite and high definition radio, universal garage door opener, bi-xenon headlights, 4-wheel driver-adjustable self-leveling air suspension, and 18-inch tires on alloy wheels.

The CLS63 AMG received a more-powerful V8 engine, upgraded leather upholstery, iPod interface, power rear sunshade, rear spoiler, high-performance brakes, sport-tuned air suspension, and 19-inch tires.

The AMG Performance Package raised power output and added a 186-mph top-speed limiter, red brake calipers, sport steering wheel, a carbon-fiber engine cover, and performance-tuned suspension. Other options included heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, keyless access and starting, rearview camera, power trunk closer, adaptive LED headlights, multi-contour massaging driver’s seat, adaptive cruise control, and carbon ceramic brakes.

The CLS550 and 63 were rear-wheel-drive. The 550 4MATIC was all-wheel-drive.

The CLS550 and CLS550 4MATIC were powered by a 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that made 402 horsepower. The CLS63 AMG featured a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 with 518 horsepower. The AMG Performance Package boosted the CLS63 AMG to 550 horsepower.

The CLS550 models used a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability, and the CLS63 AMG had a 7-speed automatic that replaced the torque converter with a clutch. Mercedes called it the MCT for multi-clutch technology. The CLS63 AMG also came with an engine idle start/stop feature.

The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 carried an EPA estimated rating of 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway. The CLS550 4MATIC and CLS63 AMG were estimated at 16/25.

All models use premium-grade gasoline.

In addition to the usual safety features, the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class came with front side airbags, curtain side airbags with rollover deployment, front knee airbags, brake assist, front-seat active head restraints, Mercedes’ PRE-SAFE system, and Mercedes’ Attention Assist that monitored drivers and warned them when it sensed they had become drowsy. If the PRE-SAFE system detected an impending crash, it tightened the seat belts, closed the windows and sunroof, and moved the driver’s seat to a better position. It was available with PRE-SAFE Brake that warned drivers with audible tones, then applied partial braking and finally full braking as the car approached a possible crash. Other optional safety features included blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, night-vision camera, front- and rear-obstacle detection, and rear side airbags.

Yearly Updates

2012 CLS-Class
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class received the second generation of Mercedes’ mbrace telematics system, called mbrace2. The system was updated to provide access to the internet and mobile apps, including Facebook, Google local search, Yelp, and Panoramio photo sharing. Owners could also lock their cars, find them, and keep a virtual eye on them when parked. The system called for help in case of a crash, and offered geo-fencing, speed alerts, and a curfew minder, as well as concierge services through a live operator.
2013 CLS-Class
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 and CLS550 4Matic added a fuel-saving engine idle stop/start feature.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

The CLS550 and CLS550 4MATIC were powered by a 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 rated at 402 horsepower. The CLS63 AMG featured a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 with 518 horsepower. The AMG Performance Package boosted the CLS63 AMG to 550 horsepower. The CLS550 models used a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability, and the CLS63 AMG had a 7-speed automatic that replaced the torque converter with a clutch. Mercedes dubbed it the MCT for multi-clutch technology.

Turbocharged dohc V81
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/285
Engine HP 402
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 443
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


Turbocharged dohc V82
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.5/333
Engine HP 518
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 516
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


Turbocharged dohc V83
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.5/333
Engine HP 550
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 590
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic



1. CLS550. CLS550 4Matic had EPA-estimated fuel economy of 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. 2. CLS63 AMG. 3. CLS63 AMG with AMG Performance Package.

Road Test

Every CLS has plenty of punch. The CLS550’s V8 offers strong, smooth power with just a hint of turbo lag from a stop. The transmission is alert and responsive, downshifting smoothly when needed for even more thrust. CLS63, with the AMG Performance Package or not, has gobs of torque for knock-you-back-in-your-seat takeoffs. Mid-range and passing power are abundant as well. CLS63’s MCT transmission is occasionally slow to downshift but is otherwise smooth and responsive, though not as immediate as some of the dual-clutch automated manuals on the market. To save fuel, the CLS63’s engine automatically shuts off at stops and instantly re-starts when the driver’s foot is released from the brake pedal.

In Consumer Guide testing, a CLS63 AMG with AMG Performance Package averaged 18.4 mpg. That’s pretty thrifty for a car with 550 horsepower. Note that the CLS63 AMG is not subject to a U.S.-government imposed Gas Guzzler Tax. All models require premium-grade gasoline.

CLS550 offers the smoothest ride of this lot. It is comfortable and composed; only larger bumps disrupt passenger comfort. The adjustable suspension’s sport mode is only a bit firmer than comfort mode. CLS63 features a considerably firmer ride due to sport suspension tuning and larger wheels. The AMG Performance Package’s suspension is quite similar. All CLS63 models suffer from hop and jiggle over broken pavement. Here, the comfort mode helps a bit, but the CLS63 isn’t made for bad roads.

CLS is quite agile for a car of this size, and a fairly tight turning radius makes it quite maneuverable in tight spaces. In all models, body lean through turns is well controlled, and the steering is tight, firm, and direct. CLS63 AMG is even more agile, and the optional performance suspension further aids handling prowess. Braking is strong, but test AMG models suffered from grabby brakes and uneven pedal action with or without the optional carbon-ceramic rotors.

The CLS interior is a generally quiet environment. Very little wind noise, but some road thrum is evident, especially in the CLS63 AMG with its 19-inch wheels. CLS550’s engine lets out a rich, growling note under acceleration and is otherwise docile. The CLS63 AMG’s engine is a constant companion; it snarls to life upon startup and the exhaust is appropriately sporty.

Despite the standard Mercedes COMAND system, the dashboard is a mish-mash of too many buttons, including a few odd icons that will require familiarization. Some may not like the position of the CLS550’s gear shifter, which crowds the steering column. In the CLS63, it’s in a more traditional position near the center console. COMAND controls the navigation system through a low, console-mounted dial. COMAND often requires multiple steps for basic functions, which can be distracting. Climate controls are separate, but COMAND absorbs some audio functions, complicating their use.

Given its high prices, the CLS’ cabin is predictably very appealing and assembled to the highest standards. Materials include elegant leather upholstery, expanses of wood trim, and numerous padded surfaces. CLS63 AMG’s cabin is distinguished by piano-black trim and suede accents.

The CLS’ styling is an example of form over function. It creates a cozy cabin despite the car’s considerable size. It also slightly hinders entry and exit for taller occupants. Up front, legroom is ample but headroom gets tight for those over 6-feet tall. The contoured seats are comfortable and hug occupants during aggressive cornering. Mercedes offers an optional active driver seat with a massaging feature and side bolster that inflate to provide even more support while cornering. The coupe-like rear roof line disrupts the view to the right rear and directly behind.

The rear seat also suffers for the car’s styling, and offers seating for only two, not three. Headroom is tight for anyone over 6-feet tall, and legroom is generally good, but it shrinks significantly for adults when tall occupants sit up front. The advantage of 2-passenger seating, is the individual seats are more supportive than the norm. However, they sit low, which combines with narrow door bottoms to hamper entry and exit.

Though long and wide, the trunk opening is fairly small, especially considering the car’s size. Sickle-shaped trunk-lid hinges take up some space, but they are covered so they will not crush cargo. Trunk space is expanded when buyers choose the optional split-folding rear seats. Interior small items storage is adequate, consisting of a deep center console, cupholders, a fairly large glovebox, and small door pockets.


Model Tested: Mercedes-Benz CLS550

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 9
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 8
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 6

Total: 61


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.2 194.5 74.1 55.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.3 21.1 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.9 36.1 42.1 35.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2012 Not tested 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Water leak
Description: Air conditioning condensation hose can leak water under front seats. (2013)
Electrical problem
Description: Malfunction in fuse or relay boxes may result in the engine not starting. (2012-13)
Electrical problem
Description: Side marker lights may be continuously on because of damaged circuit. (2013)

Recall History

2012 CLS550 and CLS 550 4Matic
Description: Certain 2012 model Mercedes-Benz CLS550 and CLS 550 4Matic vehicles made between December 1, 2011 and December 13, 2011 may have insufficiently tightened bolts that locate the hood’s secondary latch striker.
2012-14 CLS-Class
Description: Certain 2012 through 2014 model Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class vehicles have LED taillights that do not meet federal standards for side visibility.
2013-14 CLS-Class
Description: A rubber seal at the back of the engine bay may stick to the hood when it is opened and could then fall into the engine compartment where it could possibly come into contact with the exhaust system and start a fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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