If you were in the market for a midsized luxury sedan from Europe, you could certainly do worse than the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. While it sacrifices a bit of interior volume for the sake of style, it remains an opulent and sedate experience for the driver with just enough performance to keep the office commute from becoming dull. Of course, those seeking enhanced trills could pay AMG to transform the sedan into the 429 horsepower CLS53. But it has been retired for the 2022 model year, along with the base CLS450 with rear-wheel drive.
That just leaves the CLS450 4Matic, which Mercedes has given some new accouterments — perhaps to take the sting out of the company dumping the more interesting trims.
It’s a very safe play while Daimler considers how best to split its commercial truck division from the passenger vehicle business that’s been undergoing massive restructuring efforts over the last couple of years. By keeping the all-wheel-drive variant of the CLS, Mercedes-Benz can reduce the number of special orders without axing the most popular version of the model. But the new attributes being offered seem like consolation prizes.
The 2022 CLS450 comes with a holdover turbocharged, 48-volt mild hybrid (EQ Boost), 3.0-liter inline-six offering 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The powerplant is allegedly good for 60 mph blasts in roughly 4.6 seconds, which will likely be sufficient in keeping most customers happy and the CLS relatively competitive within the segment. A nine-speed automatic is the only game in town, but you can swap between five distinctive driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual) whilst on the go. But the top speed has been limited to 130 mph.
Enhancements are limited to a new bumper and grille design, along with the now-standard AMG Line appearance package. CLS customers now get more black accenting and their choice of 19 or 20-inch wheels of numerous designs. But it’s the widely praised interior where the most changes are being made. Mercedes is now offering more options in terms of upholstery (materials and color) and included a new, three-spoke steering wheel with touch controls.
The collective changes will probably bring up the CLS-Class’ MSRP a bit. But we don’t expect pricing to skyrocket. 4Matic used to cost an extra $2,500 and we figure that will be factored into the new sum. Expect the 2022 CLS450 to start somewhere under $75,000, which feels a little pricey if you’re not an admirer of the model’s handsome exterior.
Those seeking more utility from their luxury vehicles would be better suited to the E-Class, which stickers around $55,000 (for the E350 with the 255-hp, 2.0-liter turbo) and offers oodles more interior space and a much larger trunk. E450 models start right around $62,000 and come with an identical powertrain to the CLS450 4Matic, while the AMG E53 gives the same motor a meatier 429 horsepower for $74,000.
And then we have the $108,000 AMG E63 S Sedan and its 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 with 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. Absolute legends can spend a few grand extra to get the debatably dreamy wagon variant, too.
We’re sure there are loads of people who will ultimately be happier in the CLS. But the utter lack of choice relating to the model for the 2022 model year is going to make the current E-Class shine a little more brightly for those who aren’t going to want to compromise on the fundamentals for the sake of owning a slightly prettier car. We should start seeing examples of the latter Mercedes surface next year, as the plan is to begin U.S. CLS deliveries early in 2022.