As much as I like how the CL looks from the outside, it's on the inside that Mercedes outdoes the competition: Everything you see or touch looks and feels good. If I shelled out the cash for a CL, I'd feel like I got my money's worth every time I sat in it. And it's not just that the interior is opulent Ч though it is Ч but that it also manages to be functional.

Mercedes uses its Comand multifunction knob and display to control navigation, audio and some seat settings, in lieu of a touch-screen. The car also provides enough buttons for things like fan speed, defroster and radio volume that you only have to use Comand for a few select functions. It's a well-integrated system (more on the gadgets later), but the immediate effect is that it creates a very clean, uncluttered interior.

Now for the pretty stuff: The lack of a middle roof pillar means a lot of light comes into the cabin and you never feel claustrophobic in the CL. The next thing that caught my eye was the leather, both the amount and the quality. There are few surfaces not covered in leather, and there's plenty of exposed stitching, which always looks nice. It looks especially nice because Mercedes chose thread that's the same color as the leather, rather than going for a contrasting style. It also feels good when you touch it. Anybody can put leather in a car, but not everybody does it as well as Mercedes. The same holds true for the wood trim: I'm not a fan of the stuff on principle, but Mercedes picked good-looking materials and used them well.

The controls, vents and various buttons all have a good, solid feel to them. That's to be expected, but some automakers miss the details. Mercedes doesn't.

Room in the backseat is worth mentioning: It's tolerable, but I wanted more space for my feet and a touch more headroom. I'm just over 6 feet tall, so folks of more average height might be slightly more comfortable. Larger people, though, should only be expected to ride short distances in the rear of the CL.

    See also:

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    Slippery road surfaces
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