2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

  • 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS550 Sedan

    CLS550 Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      4.7L V8
    • MSRP
  • 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS63 AMG Sedan

    CLS63 AMG Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      5.5L V8
    • MSRP
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  • Review

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Review

Look, don't touch…unless you're buying

Reviewed by Automotive on

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class exemplifies the phrase, "form over function." On the one hand, the sedan's swooping hood, roofline, and rear make it one of the most stunning modern vehicles on the road, spawning the "four-door coupe" design paradigm still sweeping the automotive industry even now (e.g., Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen CC, etc.) On the other hand, interior space suffers due to the design namely in the rear row, and potentially buyers should give careful consideration if they're regularly hauling taller folks in back.

Style and space considerations aside, the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is a typical Mercedes vehicle with powerful engines, luxury sports handling, and chockfull of technology. The CLS underwent a major refresh for 2012, sporting more fuel efficient engines, a more masculine exterior styling, and more luxurious interior. Much of the new technology can be found in the CLS' safety system, most of which are drawn from various vehicles throughout the brand. Besides the standard active and passive safety like airbags, the 2012 Mercedes CLS-Class is equipped with lane sensors and warning systems, infra-red cameras, and Attention Assist, which notes if the driver is falling asleep behind the wheel.

The Range

Body style: sedan
Engines: 4.6-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-8
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
Models: CLS550, CLS63 AMG

What's New

Mercedes-Benz revamped the CLS-Class for the new model year. The exterior gets a new grille, head and fog, and side lights. Inside, Mercedes refreshed everything with more upscale materials while continuing to maintain the brand’s famed fit and finish.

It's the engines, though, that get the most loving by the automaker. The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 gets a 4.6-liter V-8 mated to a seven-speed automatic while the powerful CLS63 AMG gets a 5.5-liter with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Besides power, both engines are more fuel efficient than the previous generation. AMG aficionados looking for even more power can option for the Performance package which boosts the CLS63 AMG's 518 horsepower to 550. Other changes for the new model year include improved suspension and steering, and a new instrument cluster.


Mercedes-Benz revamped the CLS-Class for the new model year. Outside, the sedan gets a new front grille with the massive three-point star smack in the middle. Headlights and fog lights also get a makeover, while the sides get more character lines giving the entire vehicle a swoopy, muscular look.


For 2012, the Mercedes Benz CLS-Class gets a new instrument cluster in front of the driver, multi-color ambient lighting, and a central controller. The automaker also refreshes the interior with more premium leather and plastics for the seats, dash cover, and inside door panels.

Performance & Handling

The 2012 Mercedes Benz CLS 550 is the cruiser of the two models, gobbling up swaths of street and freeway lengths smoothly thanks to the sedan's adaptive air suspension systems and variable dampers. Steering may prove surprisingly light at first (light for Mercedes fans, not among German vehicles or even this segment) though this has the added benefit of making it easy to navigate the local parking lot with ease. At higher speeds, though, steering becomes appropriately stiff and strong which, when coupled with the suspension changes, makes the CLS-Class move like a smaller vehicle.


Mercedes updates the 2012 CLS-Class' standard safety system (i.e., front knee airbags, side airbags and full-sized curtain airbags) antilock disc brakes, traction, and stability control systems, with a host of new technologies including Attention Assist ala driver drowsiness warning; blind spot detection system; lane departure warning system; infrared cameras; and active automatic braking assist.

EPA Fuel Economy

CLS550: 16-17 mpg city/25 mpg highway
CLS63: 16 mpg city/25 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Exterior
  • Interior
  • Technology
  • Price cut for 2012

You Won't Like

  • Limited headroom in rear seats

Sum Up

Look, don't touch…unless you're buying

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Audi A7
  • BMW 6 Series

See the New 2017 CLS-Class.

Front & Driver Side View