Shoppers will see few differences in the CLS versus the rest of the Mercedes lineup, though I felt it was a step up from the E-Class and a step below the CL-Class, which is appropriate given all those cars' starting prices.

The seats are comfortable up front. Headroom is a bit limited, but there was plenty for me at 5-foot-10.

The CLS AMG surprised us by having a major difference in its controls versus the CLS550: While the shifter stalk is attached to the steering column in the 550, the CLS63 AMG's is in the center console, which is a much more common placement.

Not only that, but also the shifter is a cool-looking design of sculpted metal and leather.

My CLS550 had an all-black interior that was more conservative than the light gray leather the CLS63 AMG sported. While I wouldn't normally recommend such a light color, as it shows dirt as vividly as a piece of evidence glows under a black light on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," this application was so stylish I'd make an exception.

The most impressive aspect of the new CLS to me is that it doesn't feel as cramped as the previous version. The rear seat isn't too uncomfortable, either, compared with other luxury sedans in this class. Look at the specs, and the CLS and E have nearly identical rear seat dimensions. The CLS feels more claustrophobic, sure, but that's mostly due to the smaller windows.

I had both my children in their child-safety seats in the back, and they fit just fine. (Talk about easy Latch anchors to use Е) While most CLS owners likely aren't young parents, those bulky safety seats serve as a barometer for overall roominess. As noted, there is no center seat in back; rather, there are large cargo compartments.

Both the front and rear seats are on the firm side, with lots of support. I loved both models on my long commute and felt that a long road trip in one would be welcome.

The trunk, too, is on par with the E-Class in terms of space, so golfers won't have to fret about sacrificing practicality for the CLS' style and performance.

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    Vehicle data, GL 450
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