The 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadsters continue a tradition of glorious excess that makes them so desirable. With brute power and acceleration, opulent and feature-filled interiors, and a luxurious, smooth ride; these are premier convertibles for those that want a highly-stylized and eye-catching car that is a dream to ride in or drive. There may be more athletic cars in this class, but none touch the combination of power, beauty, and luxury of the SL-Class.
Body Styles: convertible
Engines: 5.0-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-12, 5.4-liter V-8
Transmissions: seven-speed automatic, five-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz SL500, Mercedes-Benz SL600, Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG
For 2004, the SL-Class gets a new member, the V-12 SL600. Also, the SL500 gets an industry-first seven-speed automatic transmission along with an integrated ""Keyless Go"" key fob.
The 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadsters come in three trim levels: SL500, SL600, and SL55 AMG. The SL500 has 18-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, and power retractable top with a removable hard top. The SL600 upgrades to a more powerful engine, but otherwise, it's mostly the same as the SL500. The SL55 AMG sports distinctive bumpers and skirts along with an even more excessive engine and racing derived brakes.
The look of the SL-Class cars is truly distinctive and stylized. These cars will grab attention for its look as much as its brand badge. The 0.29 coefficient of drag makes the SL-Class cars very air-slippery and adds to the performance factor.
The cabin of the SL500 boasts quite a bit in the way of standard gear including 12-way power-adjustable heated leather front seats with adjustable lumbar support, powered gear, tilt and telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, dual-zone climate control, leather trim, wood trim, aluminum trim, memory settings, a premium Bose sound system with in dash CD and cargo area CD players, TeleAid telecommunications system, and a navigation system. The SL600 adds ventilated Nappa leather seats and an integrated digital phone. The SL55 AMG features special sport seats and unique interior styling.
The cabin of the SL-Class cars is posh, to say the least. It is very comfortable and offers plenty of space for a roadster. The design is well laid out and the few quibbles involve cryptic controls and a navigation system that is invisible in the daylight. But these small gripes aside, the interior is a luxurious work of art.
Performance & Handling
The SL500 uses a five-liter, V-8 engine that produces 302 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque. This setup is mated to a new seven-speed automatic transmission that is the first of its kind. The SL600 packs a 5.5-liter V-12 that produces 493 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. The only gearbox available is a five-speed automatic with TouchShift operation for manually-selected gear changes. The SL55 AMG makes use of a 5.5-liter, supercharged V-8 engine that produces 493 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque running into a five-speed automatic transmission with SpeedShift buttons on the steering wheel. All SL-Class vehicles are rear drive. The SL55 AMG boasts the distinction of being the fastest Mercedes-Benz production car up to this point in time, in case one is wondering about the SL-Class in terms of performance. All of the driving thrills a buyer could ask for are here and then some. These are class defining performers for serious drivers.
The handling is solid, but not as athletic or super-sporty as one could hope. Like many cars from this maker, the SL-Class cars feel a bit heavy. The steering is precise, the grip rather sure, and the ride very comfortable. Perhaps the lack of athleticism is due to tuning meant to make these cars boulevard cruisers and not track bruisers. These are luxury convertibles, and they ride and act like it with a bit of sharp handling thrown in for good measure.
Standard safety equipment for the SL-Class includes anti-lock brake system, side-impact airbags designed to protect occupants’ head and thorax, passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation, stability control, traction control and electronic brakeforce distribution. Automatic rollover bars that pop up within 0.3 second when the system senses an impending rollover are also standard gear. Most safety tests have not been performed on the SL-Class vehicles. There is no NHTSA data to go by, and the IIHS has only performed a rear-crash protection/head restraint test that yielded a low rating of ""marginal."" The safety gear list is all there is to convince buyers of the SL-Class’ safety viability.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz SL500: 14/21 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SL600: 12/17 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG: 13/19 mpg city/highway
- Easy-to-use retractable hardtop
You Won't Like
Still a class-leading roadster for discerning buyers.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Maserati Spyder
- Aston Martin DB9
- Lexus SC 430
- Porsche 911
- Maserati Coupe