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2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class

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2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class
Available in 3 styles:  CL 2dr Coupe shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

15–16 city / 22–23 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 3 of 4
2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 4.8 4
$ 837-18,569
February 28, 2001

Sheer fantasy.

How else to describe a technology-laden two-door luxury/sport coupe from Germany that's priced about the same as a ritzy two-bedroom condo? Mercedes-Benz had aspirations of challenging such traditional European luxury brands as Bentley when it introduced its redesigned CL-class last year. But based on a week's drive in the $120,000 CL600, we'd advise the German engineers to pay less attention to the whiz-bang gimmicks and spend more time on making their flagship two-door more user-friendly.

She: Well, That sure is the understatement of the year. You call it sheer fantasy? I call it your own personal, rolling Temptation Island. And let me tell my side of the story. The cooing tollbooth attendant who never saw me in the passenger seat and in that Flirting 101 voice said, "How did you end up in my lane?" Or the woman in the shopping-mall parking lot who not only ran after you, but flagged down a stranger to holler at you to stop. Here's my biggest gripe with the Mercedes. It's so cool and enticing to other women, it should come with standard marital counseling and a private eye. And, yes, I'm mad.

He: Let me get this straight. No guys chased you in the Mercedes, right?

She: That's beside the point. Those women who chased you had no way of knowing that you don't even own a car. The only set of wheels of yours in our garage is that rusting Sears bicycle with the oversize tires and extra-wide seat.

He: Whew! Wolverina returns! How strange that you chose to ignore that wonderful V-12 engine, which makes 362 horsepower and 391 pounds-feet of torque. Or such advanced features as Active Body Control, which helps keep this two-ton behemoth from heeling over in tight turns. Or the raft of safety and security features, including side air bags for all occupants, plus side air curtains, and an electronic stability program to keep you pointed in the right direction in lousy weather. I guess you could say this is the ultimate techhead's car.

She: The CL600 isn't about engines and technology, it's about image. Unlike a Prowler or a Corvette, which are kind of exaggerated, in-your-face creations, the big Benz coupe is cool and enticing in its styling. According to In Style magazine, Sylvester Stallone is a Benz driver. I guess that's your role model, huh? Yeah, the car has neat features, like an SOS button that helps direct emergency aid to the car. And a wrench button that summons mechanical advice. But it seems the overriding reason for spending over 100 grand on this car is to send a message that says "I've got power. I've got money." These aren't people who are going to worry about the coupe's $1,300 gas-guzzler tax.

He: You forgot to mention the price of a good divorce lawyer. I have to say that I was really taken with the fancy-schmancy seats, which are heated and air-cooled and are maybe the most complicated to operate that I've ever seen in my life. They even have an active lumbar mode with built-in air chambers that "breathe" - they inflate and deflate twice a minute to provide an orthopedic massage. All that's great, but it brings up a major gripe. This car is just plain difficult to operate. You really need several days of intense indoctrination just to decipher the instrument panel.

She: I was ready to gripe about how heavy those big doors were. But then I realized they had that pneumatic "door assist," which means they latch themselves. The trunk does the same thing. Had those chicks ever pried me out of my place in your life - and your Benz - they would have been pretty thrilled by the cabin. The effect is sort of like being tucked inside a Coach purse or a Louis Vuitton suitcase. All leather and luxury. I really think those Temptation Island folks ought to skip the tropics and just hit the road in one of these babies.

He: Well, you remember what the philosopher said: "No Benz is an i and."

Anita's rating: Acceptable

Paul's rating: Above average

Likes: The world's most exotic seats. Incredibly powerful engine. State-of-the-art safety and security features. Supremely comfortable.

Dislikes: Ridiculously complicated to operate. Lousy mileage and a hefty gas-guzzler tax. Heavy doors are difficult to open and close. You could buy a nice two-bedroom condo for the same money.

Type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, four-passenger luxury coupe.

Price: Base, $117,200; as tested, $120,145 (inc. $645 destination charge and $1,300 gas-guzzler tax).

Engine: 5.8-liter V-12; 362-hp; 391 lb-ft torque.

EPA fuel economy: 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway.

12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan*: $2,246 (Estimate. Rates may be higher or lower, depending on coverage and driving record.)

Where built: Germany

    Expert Reviews 3 of 4

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