Premium sporty/performance car; Built in
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $53,300 – $167,700*

2013 Mercedes-Benz 550SL

2013 Mercedes-Benz 550SL

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG

2013 Mercedes-Benz 550SL

  • Acceleration
  • Interior materials
  • Cargo/interior storage
  • Price
  • Steering feel

As ever, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is stylish, amazingly finished, and enjoyable to drive. Our biggest disappointment is that when new this car saw a rather significant price hike while coming with less standard equipment than its predecessor. We don’t think most buyers will mind. For more than six decades, it’s meant something to own an SL. The latest iteration continues in that fine tradition.


The SL’s history dates back six decades. It’s not redesigned very often, but that was the case for model-year 2013. It didn’t look a whole lot different than the 2012 version, but it was actually about 2 inches longer and wider. The body was re-engineered to make use of aluminum and high-strength steel, which lead to a weight savings of more than 200 pounds.

Mercedes-Benz did a gradual rollout of the 2013 SL-Class. The first model to reach dealerships was the “base” SL550. The high-performance SL63 and SL65, both of which came from the brand’s AMG performance division, followed a few months later.

As far as standard equipment goes, the list was rather comprehensive. On the SL550 you got leather upholstery, heated seats, driver-seat memory, a navigation system with music hard drive, genuine wood trim, steering-linked bi-xenon headlights, and a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel. The latest version of Mercedes’ COMAND interface offered web applications, including Google Local searches and access to Facebook. SL63 and SL65 models had similar levels of standard equipment, but added specific interior and exterior trim.

Newly available on the SL was Mercedes’ MAGIC SKY CONTROL, which was basically adjustable tinting for the roof’s panoramic glass panel.

Options on the SL550 included adaptive cruise control, blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, keyless entry/engine start, rearview camera, front- and rear-obstacle detection, ventilated seats, Mercedes’ AIRSCARF neck-level heater, performance brakes, a wood/leather steering wheel, and high-end Bang & Olufsen audio system.

The optional Active Body Control included revised suspension hardware and tuning with new dampers designed to reduce body lean in turns by up to 95 percent based on driver-selectable settings.

SL63 options included an AMG Performance Package that added red brake calipers, a limited-slip differential, and tweaked engine tuning that raised horsepower and top speed. Individual extras included a carbon-ceramic brake package, a carbon-fiber trim package for the exterior, and 19- and 20-inch wheels.

Individual options on the SL65 included red-painted brake calipers, a carbon-ceramic brake package, exterior trim in carbon fiber, a specific “performance” steering wheel, and forged 19- and 20-inch wheels.

The three 2013 SL-Class models each had a different engine. The 550 received a brand new 429-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 engine. The SL63 had a new twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 with 530 horsepower. The optional AMG Performance Package raised the output to 557 horsepower. The SL65’s twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 with a massive 621 horsepower carried over from the outgoing car. The SL550 and SL65 had a 7-speed automatic transmission. The SL63 received a 7-speed automated manual that behaved like an automatic.

All SLs were rear-wheel drive.

EPA estimated for economy for the SL550 was 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway. The SL63 was rated at 16/25, and the SL65 was 14/21.

All SL-Class models required premium-grade gasoline.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class had the usual complement of expected and federally mandated safety features. Driver and passenger knee airbags were standard. Additional available safety features included blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning and prevention, pop-up rollover bars, active head restraints, and Mercedes’ mbrace2 assistance system.

This evaluation was based on preview test drives.

Yearly Updates

2013 SL-Class
There were no significant changes for 2014.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

The SL550 was powered by a 429-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 engine. The SL63 had a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 with 530 horsepower. The optional AMG Performance Package for the SL63 raised horsepower to 557. Finally, the SL65 was equipped with a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 with a massive 621 horsepower. The SL550 and SL65 both used a 7-speed automatic transmission. The SL63 had a 7-speed automated manual that behaved like an automatic.

Turbocharged dohc V81
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.7/285
Engine HP 429
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 516
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 530
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 590
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automated manual


Turbocharged dohc V83
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.5/333
Engine HP 557
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 664
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automated manual


Turbocharged ohc V124
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.0/365
Engine HP 621
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 738
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


1. SL550. 2. SL63. 3. SL63 with optional AMG Performance Package. 4. SL65.

Road Test

Only the SL550 has been made available for evaluation so far. Mercedes-Benz claims 0-60-mph acceleration of just 4.5 seconds, which seems accurate to us. Almost explosive power is available from the first tap of the gas pedal. It’s satisfying, but the hair-trigger throttle takes some acclimation. Mercedes’ engine idle stop/start feature is not the smoothest we’ve encountered. It’s fine when shutting of the engine, but restarts were occasionally accompanied by a noticeable shudder.

No opportunity to measure fuel economy. The SL550’s EPA estimated fuel economy of 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway is a boost of 2 mpg over the previous model. Premium-grade gasoline is required.

Cars made available on our southern California preview drive had the optional 19-inch wheels and standard suspension. SL behaves like the low-riding, grand tourer it is. It absorbs most bumps well. We noticed little difference between the suspension’s Comfort and Sport modes. The incredibly solid structure translates to virtually zero body flex regardless of whether to top is raised or lowered.

At least in 550 form, SL lacks the razor-sharp response of a 911, but that’s not really its primary mission. Even without the optional Active Body Control suspension, the SL is neutral in fast changes of direction. Steering feel is fine for everyday driving, but road feel is a bit lacking when you push it.

Top up, the SL550 is as quiet as any premium sporty car. Wind and road noise are minimal, and the engine produces a sporty baritone growl when you stand on the accelerator. Top down conversation is possible at speeds up to about 70 mph. The standard pop-up wind blocker makes only a small difference.

All SLs have standard navigation and Mercedes’ COMAND interface. Everything is fairly intuitive, though some navigation, audio, and vehicle-system functions are buried deep within menus. The climate controls are separate from COMAND and simple to use.

From paint finish to interior trim, SL is a first-class automobile. Rich leather interior panels and upholstery are fitting for a car that commands a six-figure price. The optional wood and leather steering wheel is especially noteworthy for its appearance and feel; it’s a feature that’s well worth the price.

Long seat tracks make for terrific legroom. Headroom might be a bit tight for the super tall, but the majority of occupants will have no problem. The seats themselves are well suited for long-distance travel, offering a myriad of adjustments. Dynamic side bolsters hold you in place by automatically inflating and deflating depending on which way the car is turning. Mercedes’ AIRSCARF feature blows warm air across your neck, making top-down driving on chilly days both possible and enjoyable. The optional MAGIC SKY roof is an interesting novelty that actually does a decent job of keeping out the sun.

SL-Class has no rear seating.

The trunk can reasonably accommodate a weekend’s worth of soft luggage for two with the top down. Interior storage is fairly modest. The glovebox is on the small side, as are the door pockets, though the latter are larger than on the outgoing SL. The center console extends the length of the cabin and is divided into two parts. It’s not very deep, and accessing the rear compartment requires an awkward reach. There are two shallow bins behind the seats as well.


Model Tested: 2013 SL550 with 19-inch wheels

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 - 3
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 7
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 8
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 4

Total: 54


2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.8 181.5 73.9 51.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.2 19.8 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 42.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2013 Not tested 2-door convertible


(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

Electrical problem
Description: Malfunction in fuse or relay boxes may result in the engine not starting. (2013)
Electrical problem
Description: Failure of the radiator fan control unit may cause the air conditioning to malfunction. (2014)

Recall History

2013 SL-Class
Description: Certain 2013 model Mercedes-Benz SL-Class vehicles made between December 19, 2011 and May 31, 2012 were originally equipped with a new refrigerant type that Mercedes-Benz said could ignite under certain circumstances in the event of a collision.
2014 SL-Class
Description: Certain 2014 model Mercedes-Benz SL-Class vehicles made between March 19, 2014 and May 5, 2014 may have a front-passenger air bag that was improperly assembled and may not deploy in a collision.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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