2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

MSRP $70,300

Ranked #19 in Midsize Sedan

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2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: September 24, 2021

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Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class built upon the platform of the E-Class is the fancier, sportier coupe-like alternative among luxury sedans. It offers the beauty and agility of a coupe with the practicality and interior comfort and space of a sedan. The CLS-Class comes with some major changes inside the cabin. The 12.3-inch instrument cluster has been made a standard feature now along with the new touchscreen infotainment unit that is controlled by a touchpad, unlike the old rotary dial. The automated emergency braking which is a standard feature in the CLS models has been now updated to recognize oncoming traffic while the adaptive cruise control now responds and reacts according to live traffic data.

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Pros

Beautiful inside out 

Advanced and luxurious interior

Powerful engine and smooth and capable acceleration

Impressive handling and ride quality

A long list of high-tech safety features

Cons

Limited cargo capacity

Lacks space in the rear row

Not as sporty as some of the rivals

More expensive than the E-Class

What's New?

New updated MBUX infotainment unit

Extra functionalities added to some driver assistance features


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$70300

bodystyle

dr Sedan

passenger capacity

5

engine type

displacement

183 cu.in.

horsepower

362 hp @ 5500 rpm

torque

369 lb.-ft. @ 1600 rpm

transmission

6 speed manual w/OD

capacity

passenger volume

104.3 cu ft.

cargo volume

11.9 cu ft.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

23/26/30 mpg

highway range

633 mi.

warranty

basic warranty

4 yr./50000 mi.

powertrain warranty

4 yr./ 50000 mi.

corrosion warranty

4 yr./ 50000 mi.

roadside assistance

Yes


Pictures & Videos


Trims

CLS 450$70,300 onwards

Colors and Styles

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class in Lunar Blue Metallic color
Lunar Blue Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide


The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is offered in two main trim lines, the base CLS 450 and the more powerful AMG CLS 53. We will be covering the RWD as well as AWD models of the base CLS 450 trim in this review while the AMG trim would be reviewed separately. The powertrain under the hood remains the same which is a 3.0L turbocharged inline-6 mated to a 9-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Pricing starts at $70,300 for the RWD model while the 4Matic AWD model starts at $72,800. The 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class competes against the BMW 5 Series M550i, Audi A7, and the Genesis S80 3.5T. Let’s see how the CLS-Class plays out against the competitors. 

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Features

The 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class is offered in two models, one with an RWD drivetrain and one with the 4Motion AWD drivetrain. Both models are powered by the same turbocharged Inline-6 engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and the features set also is identical. There is also a long list of packages available which include the AMG Line package that costs $970 and adds 19-inch AMG twin 5-spoke wheels, AMG interior styling, a sport steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals, and a black headliner. Other available packages include the AMG Line w/Night Package ($1,370), Warmth & Comfort Package ($1,050), Premium Package ($2,300), and the Driver Assistance Package ($1950) along with some other minor ones. The following are the main features of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class-

Trims

CLS 450

MSRP (RWD)

$70,300

MSRP (4Matic AWD)

$72,800

Key Features

19-inch twin-multispoke wheels

 

Leather-trimmed steering wheel

 

Topstitched MB-Tex upper dash and door trim

 

AMG body styling

 

Dual-zone automatic climate control

 

64-color LED ambient lighting with illuminated vents

 

12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia display

 

Leather upholstery

We Recommend

Since there is only a single trim available, you could opt for the RWD model to have more fun while driving or the 4Motion variant if you need better stability and grip. The Premium Package worth $2,300 would be a nice addition as it comes with a premium Burmester Surround Sound System, SiriusXM with 6-month All Access trial, PARKTRONIC with Active Parking Assist, Surround View System, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. You could also opt for any of the AMG packages to make the CLS look more sporty and aggressive.

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Engine and Performance

The powerhouse under the hood of the CLS-Class is a 3.0L turbocharged Inline-6 engine with EQ Boost mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission powering the rear wheels or all four wheels in the 4Matic version. On its own, the twin-scroll turbocharged gas engine outputs 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of maximum power and torque. The engine also comes with an integrated starter-generator that could supply up to 21 hp of power, allowing fuel-free coasting, and it could also recapture energy during deceleration. In addition to boosting power and torque for an immediate response, EQ Boost is also said to enhance fuel efficiency.

A multimode drive program selector called Dynamic Select situated on the console lets you choose between five drive modes that are Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. The system adjusts the throttle response, shift points and steering effort, climate-control efficiency, and some other components according to the mode you put the car into. The 2021 Mercedes CLS 450 takes 4.7 seconds to achieve a speed of 60mph and crosses the quarter-mile mark in 13.2 seconds. These figures are to the most exhilarating, but they are still strong and impressive. The car also comes with a sport exhaust system that allows the adjustment of acoustics through the dynamic select modes and outputs a great-sounding exhaust note. 

Models

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic

2021 BMW 5 Series M550i

2021 Audi A7 Premium

2021 Genesis S80 3.5T 

MSRP

$72,800

$76,800

$69,200

$62,250

Engine

3.0 L Inline-6

4.4 L Inline-6

3.0 L V6

3.5 L V6

Drivetrain

AWD

AWD

AWD

AWD

Transmission

9-speed shiftable automatic

8-speed shiftable automatic

7-speed automated manual

8-speed shiftable automatic

Power (hp @ rpm)

362 hp @ 5500 rpm

523 hp @ 5500 rpm

335 hp @ 5000 rpm

375 hp @ 5800 rpm

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)

369 ft-lbs. @ 1600 rpm

553 ft-lbs. @ 1800 rpm

369 ft-lbs. @ 1370 rpm

391 ft-lbs. @ 1300 rpm

0-60 mph (sec)

4.7

3.9

4.7

4.9

Quarter Mile (sec)

13.2

12.1

13.3

13.4

Top Speed (mph)

129

156

130

155

The 2021 5 Series M550i is the most expensive option on this list. But it comes with the most powerful engine under the hood and excels a step above the competitors by performing much better. The Genesis S80 3.5T is the second most powerful one here, but it’s not as agile as the more renowned German competitors. But considering the much lower price of the Genesis, this difference is insignificant and justified. The BMW is around one second faster than others while the Mercedes and Audi come second with very similar speed figures.

How well does the 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class Drive and Handle?

The CLS-Class is a responsive and agile machine with capable handling and engaging driving dynamics. The car features an electromechanical power steering with a feature Mercedes calls Direct-steer that delivers quicker response around corners and makes the car easier to maneuver at low speeds, along with improved straight-line stability. The CLS comes with a lowered suspension with a selective damping system that provides a balance between comfort and control by automatically adjusting individual shock absorbers based on the road surface and the current manner of driving. 

The ESP Dynamic Cornering Assist included in the CLS-Class is an advanced torque-vectoring system that helps to stay in control and attack corners with precision through targeted rear-wheel braking. The ride quality is impressive and the CLS is a proper luxury sedan in terms of comfort and a sports coupe in terms of handling, maintaining the perfect balance between comfort and driving dynamics. Overall it provides an engaging driving experience that is stable and flexible. But still, the higher-end AMG variant would be the better option as it comes with more power.

How efficient is the braking performance of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class? 

The 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class comes with a Sport brake system that includes upgraded brake hardware consisting of perforated front brake discs. The brake rotors are of 14.2-inches size in both the front and rear wheels. This ensures that the CLS is brought to a stop from 60mph at around 124ft which is a good distance in the segment. The lower weight of the CLS also helps it to achieve this shorter distance. 

The CLS-Class also features an adaptive braking technology that consists of a suite of advanced features that enhance braking. This includes Predictive Brake Priming that sets the pads closer to the discs right when you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal for a more immediate response. The Automatic Brake Drying periodically applies the brakes just enough to eliminate water build-up from the discs during rainy situations. Along with this, the CLS is also equipped with Hill-Start Assist which helps prevent unwanted rollback along with a hold function.

Model

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic

2021 BMW 5 Series M550i

2021 Audi A7 Premium

2021 Genesis S80 3.5T 

Brake Rotors Front

14.2

N/A

13.3

14.2

Brake Rotors Rear

14.2

N/A

13.0

13.6

Curb Weight

4,255

4,456

4,332

4,497

Braking Distance 60-0 (ft.)

124

108

157

124

The most powerful BMW is also the one with the strongest stopping power. The Mercedes and Genesis are behind the Bimmer but still stops at a respectable distance of 124ft from 60mph. The Audi A7 however comes with the worst brakes and the braking distance of this machine is disappointing. Overall the Mercedes is equipped with a capable braking system.

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Fuel Economy

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 is a highly efficient machine and delivers an efficiency of 23 miles in the city, 30 on the highway, and a combined efficiency of 26 mpg in the RWD model while it drops down one figure in the 4Matic AWD model. These numbers are super impressive and among the best in the segment. The CLS also comes with a large fuel tank and hence provides a combined range of more than 500 miles. The CLS-Class also comes equipped with an ECO Start/Stop system that automatically shuts off the engine at stoplights and other idle situations, to save fuel and reduce emissions. And by looking at the fuel economy numbers we are sure that this system does work efficiently. 

Models

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic

2021 BMW 5 Series M550i

2021 Audi A7 Premium

2021 Genesis S80 3.5T 

MPG (City)

22

17

22

18

MPG (Highway)

29

25

29

26

MPG (Combined)

25

20

24

21

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

21.1

18.0

19.3

19.3

Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles)

464/612/527

306/450/360

425/560/463

347/502/405

The 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class is the absolute best in terms of fuel economy as well as range. The Audi A7 follows the Merc very closely with impressive efficiency numbers while the BMW is the least efficient one here. The Mercedes is the only one offering more than 500 miles of the combined range here whereas the least efficient BMW also has the smallest fuel capacity, hence delivers a combined range just above 350 miles.

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Interior

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has a beautiful-looking interior with enough space on the inside. The turbine-style vents and the premium dashboard make up a high luxurious cabin. The CLS features a standard topstitched MB-Tex upper dash and door trim that could be upgraded to the available topstitched Nappa leather dash trim while there are also many other trim options to choose from including various different wood trims and an even more premium designo Black Piano Lacquer "Flowing Lines" wood trim. The seats are covered in grained double-stitched hand-fitted leather as a standard that is luxurious and ultra-premium. 

Available upholstery options include even more luscious Nappa leather, designo Nappa leather, or the most premium bespoke designo manufaktur Nappa leather upholstery options. Despite being a non-AMG model could be given an AMG-styled interior if you opt for the available in AMG Line or AMG Line with Night Packages. Now coming to space inside the cabin, the Mercedes lacks the space to be said that it has a comfortable rear row. The legroom is on the lower side in the rear row while the sloping roofline eats into the rear headroom also. The cargo capacity is a mere 11.9 cu-ft that makes the CLS-Class a car with an extremely luxurious interior that lacks space and practicality. 

Models

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic

2021 BMW 5 Series M550i

2021 Audi A7 Premium

2021 Genesis S80 3.5T 

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

36.9/57.8/41.9

38.8/58.7/41.4

37.0/57.2/41.3

39.4/58.3/42.5

Rear Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

35.9/56.5/35.0

37.5/55.9/36.5

37.1/55.9/37.0

37.6/57.1/38.7

Cargo Capacity

11.9

14.0

24.9

13.1

The Mercedes has an aggressively styled interior that compromises space for the same whereas the BMW comes with a more spacious interior that is not as perfectly high-quality as the Merc with some low-quality bits here and there. The Genesis has the most spacious interiors that even though doesn’t look or feel as luxurious as the Mercedes still doesn’t compromise on the quality front. But it lacks cargo capacity and that is where the actual winner comes in. The Audi A7 even though has a sloping roofline, still manages to be spacious and comfortable with no compromises made to the interior quality. The following are the main interior features of the 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class-

  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel
  • Topstitched MB-Tex upper dash and door trim
  • Sports steering wheel
  • Power front seats with memory
  • 3-passenger rear seat
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • 64-color LED ambient lighting with illuminated vents
  • Heated and ventilated front seats

How intuitive is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS Class’s infotainment unit?

The 2021 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia display along with a digital instrument cluster of the same size. The widescreen color display with multitouch features the MBUX interface and could be controlled by touch, the new console touchpad, or the Touch Control feature on the steering wheel. It also responds to the “Hey, Mercedes” voice command. The infotainment system is highly advanced and is super intuitive to use. 

While the standard FrontBass audio system is good, opting for the Premium package gets you a 13-speaker Burmester Surround Sound System featuring a 590-watt, 9-channel digital amplifier. The CLS could also be equipped with an 8-inch-wide Heads Up Display that reads out useful information in the driver's field of view. The following are the prominent infotainment features in the 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class-

  • 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia display
  • 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
  • Steering-wheel Touch Control Buttons
  • Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX)
  • Voice Control with Natural Language Understanding
  • "Hey, Mercedes" keyword activation
  • Touchpad controller
  • No-charge online navigation map updates for 3 years
  • FrontBass system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Multiple USB-C ports

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Exterior

The Mercedes CLS-Class is a beautiful-looking machine from the outside and special effort has been made by Mercedes to make the CLS more stylish. The wraparound LED headlamps and taillamps look impressive and add to the stylish character of the vehicle. The front chrome diamond-block grille with a single central crossbar finished in chrome gives the front-end a distinctive look. The Mercedes weighs a little above 4,200 lbs which is a very much low heft in the segment while its 3.9-inch ground clearance might be limiting. 

The CLS also comes with AMG body styling as standard which means you get a more aggressive-looking exterior consisting of AMG lower bodywork that enhances both aesthetics and aerodynamics. There are large air intakes with horizontal strakes in the front end while the rear-end features dual tailpipes of the sports exhaust with a chrome accent. Also, the standard 19-inch wheels look sleek and stylish while there are also numerous wheel options available in sizes varying from 19 to 20-inches and also some AMG-styled ones. Overall it is a sporty and elegant-looking machine with some AMG characteristics. 

Models

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic

2021 BMW 5 Series M550i

2021 Audi A7 Premium

2021 Genesis S80 3.5T 

Curb Weight (lbs)

4,255

4,456

4,332

4,497

Length (inches)

196.4

195.8

195.6

196.7

Width (inches)

73.9

73.5

75.1

75.8

Height (inches)

56.3

58.4

56.0

57.7

Ground Clearance (inches)

3.9

5.2

4.2

5.5

Wheelbase (inches)

115.7

117.1

115.2

118.5

The Merc looks the most beautiful, the Bimmer the most sporty, and the Audi the most advanced while the Genesis looks weird. Based on exterior beauty, any of the Germans would be a great choice as they all look great. The Merc is the lightest while the most powerful BMW is not the heaviest as it is slightly lighter than the Genesis. The Genesis however also has the largest dimensions and offers the best ground clearance. The following are the prominent exterior features of the 2021 Mercedes CLS-Class-

  • 19-inch twin-multispoke wheels
  • LED Daytime Running Lamps 
  • LED headlamps and taillamps
  • AMG body styling
  • Chrome diamond-block grille
  • All-LED exterior lighting
  • Power tilt/sliding tinted glass sunroof
  • 19-inch twin-multispoke wheels
  • Gloss Black exterior accents

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Safety

The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has an aluminum and high-strength steel body structure and comes with a really long list of safety and driver assistance tech, many included as standard and many available as optional features. The CLS also comes with Pre-Safe that can detect a collision or rollover and the system then immediately tighten the front seat belts, adjust the front passenger seat, and close the windows and sunroof, in order to better prepare the occupants and restraints in the moments before a collision. While the CLS-Class has not been tested or rated by any of the agencies, it’s pretty evident that the immense amount of safety tech incorporates into it makes it an extremely safe vehicle. The following are the standout safety features-

  • Crosswind Assist
  • Blind Spot Assist
  • Adaptive braking technology
  • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC
  • Active Steering Assist
  • Evasive Steering Assist
  • Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function
  • Active Speed Limit Assist
  • Active Blind Spot Assist
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist
  • Active Lane Change Assist
  • Extended Restart in Stop-and-Go Traffic

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Competition

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 vs 2021 BMW 5 Series M550i

The BMW M550i offers much better performance for a higher price, but that price is justified by what you get for the price. The BMW also comes with a more spacious and practical interior while the Mercedes has a more luxurious cabin. The Mercedes has a distinctive look and it stands out very well in a crowd while the BMW looks too common. Overall the Mercedes is a more stylish, more luxurious option while the BMW is a more powerful, faster, more practical car offered at a higher price and you can make the choice yourself. 

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 vs 2021 Audi A7 

The 2021 Audi A7 is similarly capable as the Mercedes as the speed figures are really similar. The A7 however, is much more spacious inside the cabin and it offers more than double the cargo capacity in the Mercedes. Although the cabin of the A7 is not as flashy as the CLS’s, it is definitely of great quality and comes with highly updated tech. The Mercedes however offers a better infotainment unit. Overall the Audi A7 would be the better choice as it also offers a price advantage over the Mercedes. 

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 vs 2021 Genesis S80 3.5T 

The 2021 Genesis S80 is around $10,000 cheaper than the competitors and that is a drastic price advantage. The S80 does come with a powerful engine under the hood and offers a luxurious interior that is very much spacious and comfortable while the cargo capacity is not sufficient but still is better than the Mercedes. The Mercedes however is slightly faster and much better handling and looks extremely stylish compared to the Genesis which has a weird and somewhat ugly exterior. Overall the Genesis is the more comfortable machine and the most value for money option here, but the CLS is the better car in many ways. 

2021 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Final Verdict

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is a highly capable super option in the segment. It has a powerful engine coupled with superb handling and braking providing a great driving experience and the fuel economy figures, as well as the range delivered by the car, is also best-in-class. The interior is truly luscious and everything is of supreme high quality. However, it does have some shortcomings due to the aggressive styling. The space inside the cabin is limited especially in the rear row, due to the sloping roofline while the cargo capacity is also not enough. Overall it is a great car if you are ready to adjust to these shortcomings. But otherwise, the Audi A7 would be a great choice even though it is not as stylish as the Merc.