A Week With: 2022 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic

The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is a four-door coupe (I know, I know, but they call it a coupe.) The CLS is built on the E-Class platform, so it’s a sleek mid-size car with a little less rear headroom than you can get in a proper sedan, but it punches a little bit above the E-Class in panache. 

2022 Mercedes CLS 450 front
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic is a midcycle refresh, but comes with some big updates.

With a light refresh for 2022 the CLS looks a little different, but a week with Mercedes’ not-quite-S-Class coupe delivers the same top shelf luxury and performance experience you’ve come to expect from a premium Benz.

Overview

The first CLS came out in 2004, based on the E-Class midsize sedan. CLS stands for Coupe Light Sport, and the intention was to create a four-door coupe with a sweeping profile and a short trunk lid. The CLS-Class is intended as an executive car — a personal luxury vehicle that you can drive for yourself, as opposed to the S-Class where the owner often sits in the back seat with an employee driving. The CLS can also be compared to the E-Class coupe, which is a two-door, but the CLS is definitely a step up from the E-Coupe. 

As such, the CLS also comes in a bit higher than the E-Class in price, but it’s not as expensive as the S-Class. Make no mistake, however, the CLS is every inch as premium as the S-Class, and quite a bit sexier. All CLS models come standard with AMG-derived components that don’t come standard on the E-Class coupe. 

Exterior

2022 Mercedes CLS 450 nose
The new CLS 450 is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 putting out 362 horsepower.

The light refresh for the 2022 model year brought the CLS up to date. The last general redesign happened just a few years ago, so Mercedes gave the 2022 CLS a new front bumper with air intakes, a front splitter in silver chrome and rear bumper with black diffuser-look insert and silver-chrome trim strip. 

The front end also bears a new radiator grille with the three-dimensional Mercedes-Benz star pattern in chrome-glass against high-gloss black with chrome inlay and an integrated Mercedes three-pointed star.  

Beyond a new front end and rear bumper, this year’s refresh didn’t need to be comprehensive. The CLS is already a striking personal luxury car, and definitely stands out as a design statement. 

Interior

2022 Mercedes CLS 450 interior
Although sporty on the outside, the new CLS is technological precision and comfort on the inside.

Inside, the updates for 2022 include a new multifunction steering wheel, wrapped in fine Nappa leather. The various controls on the wheel (and there are many) use capacitive sensors, which Mercedes believes are easier to use. I’m not totally convinced of that, however, because I keep changing the radio station while driving. I know I’m inadvertently touching some capacitive sensor on the wheel, but I’m not sure which one. 

The rest of the interior is a tasteful mix of sporty and comfortable. Mercedes-Benz does a tremendous job of anticipating your needs. For example, when you turn on the seat heat, the top of the center console and the left armrest both heat up so your elbows don’t get cold. In wintertime, that’s quite thoughtful. The steering wheel can also be heated, of course. 

Powertrain

Mercedes-Benz has made great use of hybrid technology to enhance performance. The base engine in the CLS is a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder, equipped with a mild hybrid electric motor called the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG). 

Overall, you can expect 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, but this system assists the combustion engine by adding up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque for short periods of time. The hybrid adds power when you’re taking off from a stop or you accelerate to make a pass. 

2022 Mercedes CLS 450 console
The interior of the CLS 450 is a tasteful mix of sporty and comfortable

The transmission is the 9G-Tronic, a 9-speed automatic, and the CLS is sold only with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The 4Matic is highly refined, so you’ll never notice it working except when you’re driving through snow or heavy rain and the car is curiously stable and obedient. Put it all together and the CLS will hit 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, with a governed top speed of 130 mph. 

Safety and Technology

Technology is one of the high points of any Mercedes-Benz experience. The focus is all on the dual 12.3-inch screens behind a single ribbon of glass. The screens provide driver information along with infotainment and control. 

The infotainment system is called MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User eXperience), which implements one of the most advanced voice control systems in the industry today. MBUX functions like a digital assistant. Just say “Hey Mercedes” and ask for any setting or information the car can provide. You can request seat heat, your favorite radio station or music, navigation, or just information. Ask about the history of the 30 Years War or how to make puff pastry, and you’ll get it. 

2022 Mercedes CLS 450 top
From the quiet cabin to the crisp, smooth steering response and the general sense that everything has been engineered to perfection, the CLS is a satisfying ride.

The system uses artificial intelligence to learn about your habits. For example, if you always call your mother on your Friday commute home, that will be pre-loaded and suggested to you. Don’t be afraid of the MBUX AI. Unlike HAL, your Mercedes-Benz will open the pod bay doors for you. 

Overall, it’s good that the voice control works so well, because Mercedes gives you a touchpad on the console to control the system. I’ve never yet found a touchpad that works well, so the voice control and touchscreen capability of the MBUX system is welcome. 

With the CLS, you’ll also get state-of-the-art safety and driver assistance features. The CLS has all kinds of active safety measures, including the ability to make sure you follow the speed limit. That by itself can save you a lot of grief, even if you wonder why you’re going so slowly. It also has parking assist, traffic jam assist, and all the usual safety features.

Driving Impressions

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 drives like a modern European luxury car. If you drive the BMW 6 Series, Audi A7 or Porsche Panamera, you’ll be getting the same level of performance and luxury. From the quiet cabin to the crisp, smooth steering response and the general sense that everything has been engineered to perfection, the CLS is a satisfying ride. If you need to make a pass on a short two-lane overtaking zone, you’ve got the power right there, right now. The suspension soaks up bumps while keeping you in perfect contact with the road. And through it all, you’ll feel like the seats and steering wheel were designed just for you. 

2022 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic Specifications

Dimension L: 198.8 inches/W: 73.8 inches/H: 56.6 inches/Wheelbase: 115.7 inches
Weight n/a
Powertrain 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 with 48V mild hybrid; 9-speed automatic transmission AWD
Fuel Economy 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway/25 mpg combined
Performance Specs 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque
Price Base price: $74,000; As tested: n/a
On-Sale Date Available now

Wrap Up

The CLS-Class makes picking out your car very easy. There’s only the CLS 450 4Matic. There are a few option packages and standalone features, like the driver assistance package, head-up display, and things like that. Take your pick and you can fully outfit the CLS for about $80,000, or maybe a little more if you want all the driver assistance features. 

What you’ll get is a fantastic performance machine with every creature comfort imaginable. In our test-build on the Mercedes-Benz website, we added in the massaging seats with ventilation. That’s well worth the additional money, I think. If you’re already spending more than you spent on your first house, why not go big? 

2022 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic — Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the CLS and the CLA?

The CLA is the entry-level model and the CLS is the top of the line. The CLS is based on the E-Class executive car and the CLA is based on the near-premium A-Class. 

How long will a new CLS last?  

Any Mercedes-Benz should give you 150,000 to 300,000 trouble-free miles with consistent maintenance and standard driving use. Getting 10 to 20 years of use is typical.

Will Mercedes-Benz continue to make the CLS? 

Mercedes is slimming down its product line, but there’s no indication the CLS part of that purge. Mercedes-Benz management has stated that they intend to focus on luxury cars, and the CLS is definitely a luxury car.