2003 SL-Class

Consumer Reviews

2003 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

$6,275 - $24,391  MSRP Range
2003 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

Review Score

4.1 out of 5 stars

4.1

34 Reviews
82% of drivers recommend this car
Score Breakdown
4.6 out of 5 stars Comfort
3.9 out of 5 stars Value for the Money
4.4 out of 5 stars Interior Design
3.8 out of 5 stars Reliability
4.8 out of 5 stars Performance
4.8 out of 5 stars Exterior Styling

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What Drivers Are Saying

1 - 10 of 34 reviews

3 out of 5 stars

Beautiful car, but anticipate issues

by Robert from NY on Wed May 24 2017

Four years ago, I bought a 2003 with 27,000 miles on it. I really like the color combination of Aegean Blue exterior and teal leather interior. And I'm very happy that I purchased an extended warranty! So far, the repairs total over $12,000. Suspension issues, battery charging issues, hydraulics for the top issues, rear main seal leak, etc. continue - all from driving the car about 2000 miles a year. But with the top down on a beautiful day, I tend to forget all of the negatives. It really is a wonderful car to drive, but it's also expensive to own.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
2 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
2 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does not recommend this car!!

32 out of 32 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful car but comes with a cost..

by tombradyisthegreatest from dc on Mon Apr 24 2017

The SL, S and Cl models of Mercedes come with whats called ABC hydraulic suspension that becomes very costly to fix. Between the pump, accumulators, valve blocks, ABC lines and other complex systems, you're looking at $1500+ each time you encounter an ABC issue. And thats hoping is something simple like an accumulator or a simple ABC flush. If the pump or struts go, you're looking at $3000+. Now, if you know a good indy mechanic you can probably get things fixed for half the cost considering most of the parts are now available on Ebay for cheap. They also have a coilover conversion kit to change your struts from ABC to regular springs and do away with ABC forever. I know quite a few people who did this and are happy with the ride etc...The car is fantastic and you'll have your wear and tear items that you will need to repair but the suspension has always been the main issue. These cars have become cheaper and cheaper over the years but most people forget the cost of ownership.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
2 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
3 out of 5 starsInterior Design
1 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

31 out of 31 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

Fun Car

by LSW from Las Vegas, NV on Wed May 16 2018

This is a great car, very fun to drive. So smooth on the road. The only negative I have is that the interior design could be better.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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2 out of 5 stars

2003 model is a money pit

by mathew2000 from new jersey on Wed Jun 08 2011

The sl period in 2003 was a money pit. Issues with struts, the active body control pump ,transmission and motor mount problems and the motor for convertable goes. The Navigation is terrible. Yes the car is wonderful to drive and actually was surprised it was not a bumpy ride. It has power and can handle as good as a car can handle. I still feel today it is one of the prettiest cars on the road and you will get head turns.. If you want the sl 500 please buy 2004 and higher. The 2003 was the first model and you will run the risk of putting major dollars in to fix it.. Strut alone is $900, ABC Pump is $1400, the entire Abc system $4000. I recommend buying sl55 if you have the money..Stronger engine ..I also recommend paying for extended warranty for 3 years. Full coverage will cost you $2000 for all 3 years

5 out of 5 starsComfort
2 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
2 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does not recommend this car!!

63 out of 64 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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1 out of 5 stars

Flawed

by Nightmare from Naples, Florida on Wed Nov 16 2011

I purchased my SL55 2003 four years ago with 20k miles recorded and that was the time I became totally disillusioned with M.B. reliability. With the exception of the engine and body the car has been a living nightmare and money pit. I would not be exaggerating if that car had cost more than the value of it in repairs when I eventually sold it for under $5k of Trade in Book value with a modest 45,000 recorded miles. M.B. needs a lesson from the Japanese in electronics as their quality control is a disgrace to the automobile industry. The SL55 is a stunning performer (when not in the garage) and the exhaust note under throttle is captivating. Never buy the first model of a new production and I learned the hard way.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
1 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
1 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does not recommend this car!!

46 out of 47 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

interesting toy

by porschephil from Toronto Can on Tue Mar 15 2011

As my nick name suggests, I'm into Porsche, but find that they don't answer all my needs. When a little restraint is called for or a business presence id required I always drive an SL and have for years. The SL 55 that I bought used three years ago is far and away the fastest Benz I've had. Finally some real performance in a gorgeous body. Best to have a friendly mechanic that knows these cars though as they can get expensive on repairs. Struts being a problem. About 7,000 in repairs and maintenance over three years, plus cost of tires . Not great with twenty inch rims as rubs tread on bumps. Bad in potholes and rough surfaces. Easy cruiser that you seem to drive as though born in it. Don't expect all the gizmos to work for very long. Tire pressure always on, seat controls like vibrate etc. never seems to work. Nav system sucks but always end the drive with a smile.

3 out of 5 starsComfort
3 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

41 out of 42 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

Very Nice

by luvtheride from Colorado Springs on Wed Apr 02 2014

I have the 2003 SL 55 AMG with just over 50k miles. Its funny how some reviews of the SL 55 AMG have numerous problems and some seem to have very few or no problems. I'm one of the lads who has had nothing but a great experience after my first 15 months in. This car is a joy to drive. It gets a ton of heads turning. The only issue I have had was changing the tires and rims and the TPMS had an issue resetting. The Mercedes Dealer wanted $1,500 for new sensors installed. So, I purchased a manual gauge at O'Reillys and take career of it that way. Although, I check every week, I have never lost any pressure. The best way is to do a visual of your tires anyway. Great fun. Wonderful ride for short jaunts and long drives.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
3 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

30 out of 31 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

All I can ever say is WOW!

by SL500 Owner and I lover it! from Long Island NY on Sat Jul 21 2012

This is such an amazing piece of auto engineering. If you want a sports car feel in the ultimate luxury then this is the car for you. Yes, you will pay a steep price but it is worth every penny and then some. You have to drive it to know for sure.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

19 out of 20 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

A great car buy!

by cool car guy from Houston, TX. on Wed Feb 01 2012

After months of looking cars.com got me in touch with a seller in Fortworth TX. On the internet it was a beauty. When I got to see and drive it it was everything I had hoped. The body was flawless. It drove well and it had every option you could want in a luxury sports car. The leather was in good shape and the mileage was low (54,000)for the age. Car.com you came through for me!

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

16 out of 17 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Love the Ride and the Look

by Benz Gal from Joplin,Mo on Mon Dec 19 2011

This is the second Mercedes Benz SL500 that I have owned. My first one got crunched in the Joplin tornado, but I knew I had to have another. The performance, reliability and ride are like no other. Big thumbs up.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

14 out of 15 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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Our Take on the 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

Of all the cars, trucks and minivans I have test driven this past year, few vehicles evoked as many envious comments from co-workers as the new Mercedes-Benz SL500.

Of course, this is an $86,000 car savored by few - mostly CEOs and entertainers. So its glamorous image is enough to attract a lot of attention.

But it's not just image that will turn heads. This couple has stunning good looks. Voluptuous curves and crisp accent lines help hide the car's wide stance and the more than 4,000 pound curb weight. Its size isn't intimidating, like the Chevrolet Corvette, yet it is large enough to avoid looking like a toy. It has a modern appearance that matches the BMW Z8 for sheer eye appeal.

That feeling... Read More