Driving Impressions

This CLS sedan doesn't look like a typical Mercedes-Benz. Relatively light steering detracts from the sporty feel even though handling capabilities rank high. This is a big car, yet it maneuvers like a smaller model.

The automaker's mighty V-8 delivers plenty of power in a wholly refined and civilized manner. Shifts are more noticeable in the CLS than in some other luxury automobiles, but they're reasonably crisp and quick. However, the automatic transmission's operation tends to be intrusive while braking; it sometimes feels like an anchor ratcheting you down yet another notch. Occasional downshifts get awkward when rolling to a halt — and more so if you then step on the gas.

Expect a comfortable ride in the true luxury sense. The suspension might be taut, but its operation is largely concealed as you drive on smooth surfaces. On the down side, backseat headroom is scant, though legroom and foot space suffice. Getting into the backseat is difficult.

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