INTERIOR

In stark contrast to the fresh, forward-thinking exterior styling, the CLS550's interior comes off as stodgy and conservative. Frankly, it's got quite the boys-club feel inside. No luxury has been overlooked inside the CLS550's cabin. Allow me to gush about a few of its most hedonistic features: available heated and cooled leather seats, a massaging driver's seat and active seat bolsters that automatically adjust to "hug" you and prevent you from sliding in your seat as you turn a corner. All I needed was a robot under the dash painting my toenails and it would be a spa on wheels.

The CLS does have more down-to-earth features that can make it a great family car. First, the cabin is roomy, and whether transporting infants in rear-facing seats or adults, everybody's got ample personal space in front or back. There's also a generous storage-to-passenger ratio. Along with the usual storage spaces, there's a sizable covered storage bin in back that was perfect for hiding all my daughter's toys, and in front of it there are cupholders. Underneath the front seats there's concealed storage that can stash a small purse.

The CLS-Class only seats two in the backseat. The front row's center console flows into the rear seats and acts as a barrier between them. It could lessen the "Mom, he's touching me!" battles on long trips. My favorite surprise feature was an optional power sunshade for the rear window. It eliminates the beating sun on those poor rear-facing infants and toddlers.

Mercedes-Benz definitely delivers when it comes to its luxury features that help make the CLS550 an absolute dream to drive. However, its multimedia system has a learning curve and I was underwhelmed by its antiquated displays. Controlling functions via the knob in the front row's center console wasn't exactly intuitive.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

    See also:

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    Floormat on the driver's side
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