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2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Coupe

2dr Cpe 5.0L

Starting at | Starting at 16 MPG City - 23 MPG Highway

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  • Average Retail is not available
  • $87,500 original MSRP
Printable Version

2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Coupe

Printable Version

2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Coupe


2001 Mercedes-Benz CL500

Source: The Car Connection

Setting a high standard that cut both ways.

by Marc Stengel

I am not going to apologize. I am going to explain. It certainly isn't because I expect to persuade anyone into parting with $90,000 for an automobile that I take up the subject of Mercedes-Benz's CL500 touring coupe. It goes without saying that 99 percent of the folks reading (and writing) this are categorically unable to spend that much on a car. Of the remaining one percent who can afford to, half of them are too calculating to do such a thing while the other half will blithely fork out for this very conspicuously consuming showpiece in spite of anything I have to say.

I happen to believe, however, that there is a role for the elite in our world, and it is primarily to establish benchmarks or standards of achievement. I also happen to believe that "elite" is not automatically synonymous with "best" when, in fact, elite more accurately signifies rare sophistication. Among autos, the CL500 is undoubtedly rare and inarguably sophisticated. Regardless of pocketbook, any auto enthusiast will benefit from an experience of driving the CL, because ever after he or she will know how well every other vehicle measures up to the CL's lofty standard. Moreover, he or she will know how fleeting, even impossible, it is to be the very best at anything.

Not that Mercedes-Benz hasn't tried exceptionally hard to make its CL-Class coupe the best in the world. Actually, there are three of them: the CL500 deploys a 5.0-liter V-8; the CL55 uses the same V-8 with a bit longer piston-stroke to displace 5.5 liters; and the 2001 CL600 debuts a stunning new V-12 that displaces 5.8 liters. Horsepower figures range from 302 to 354 to 362, respectively. Base prices likewise jump from $87,500 to $99,500 to $117,200, giving the CL500 a dubious opportunity to claim "entry level" status in such august company.

Tech heights

The benchmark these cars set is a technological one. Much of this technology is conspicuous, much of the rest is invisible; all of it, however, changes dramatically the otherwise mundane experience of driving a car.

Something as simple as the roofline of the CL for example is a case in point. The beautiful arch from front to rear not only creates a generous, airy expanse of glass on both sides of the car but also it makes its graceful vault without need of a strengthening pillar between the side windows that would otherwise obscure an occupant's view. It is one of the longest such clear spans in automotive architecture, yet unseen buttressing elsewhere renders the CL500 immensely rigid from top to bottom, front to rear.

Mercedes exploits this solid platform, moreover, in a way no other company in the world presently can. The CL coupes are the first cars in the world to incorporate robot-like Active Body Control (ABC), which stabilizes ride quality by defying cornering forces. Using 13 sensors and two computers, ABC monitors the fore-and-aft "pitch" and side-to-side "roll" of the vehicle at all times, then instructs a high-pressure hydraulic system to compress or expand the coil springs at each wheel for the sake of maintaining a level ride. At its Normal setting, ABC reduces body roll by 68 percent; in Sport mode, by 95 percent. It is, in fact, so uncanny to corner aboard so flat a platform that Mercedes-Benz's engineers decided to retain a five percent vestige of roll sensation. Otherwise there would be none of the traditional cues to alert a driver he is approaching extreme, possibly untenable, cornering speeds.

Standard on the CL600, and a $2800 option on the CL500 is another technological tour de force. Distronic cruise control uses radar to enable the CL to maintain a set distance behind preceding vehicles. Distronic controls both acceleration and up to 20 percent of maximum braking force to set an "adaptive" cruising pace which the driver can adjust via a thumbwheel controller in the center console and a dash-mounted display operated from the steering wheel. An optional Parktronic system ($995) uses four sensors embedded within the rear bumper and six more up front to alert the driver of impending contact with solid objects when the car is moving slowly backward or forward.

COMAND control

Inside, Mercedes-Benz has elevated its COckpit MANagement and Data (COMAND) system to new levels of sophistication - and inscrutability. COMAND assumes full responsibility for all audio chores (AM/FM/weatherband radio, cassette player, CD changer) and GPS navigation. It also allows hands-free operation of an optional Motorola Timeport telephone. Mercedes' COMAND, however, is not exactly what most people wish for, and its "personality" is more than a little reminiscent of HAL's - things must be done as COMANDed, or there will be unsavory consequences.

Twisting the convenient knob on the radio unit, for example, does nothing to control audio volume. That's a job for a compass-like directional scroller: hit North for more volume, South for less. Selecting a radio channel or CD track is not a pushbutton matter, as most folks might expect. It's twist-knob-and-menu exercise - just the kind of programming activity not to be performing at fast, flat cornering speeds, no matter how effective Distronic is at establishing a mobile safety-bubble.

Much more than any space-age concept car at the auto shows, the CL-Class from Mercedes-Benz is a real-world, daily-driving exemplar of the latest advances in automotive technology. It is serene to drive. It is muscular, flattering, attentive to every whim. It represents an elite benchmark for these qualities that is useful for evaluating any other car on the road. Its often confusing complexity sets a lofty standard too. Many lesser cars profit by this particular comparison, and it reminds us what can happen when the elite stay slightly out of touch.

2001 Mercedes-Benz CL500

Base Price: $87,500; $90,140 as tested
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8, 302 hp
Transmission: five-speed automatic with Touch Shift, rear-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 196.6 x 73.1 x 56 in
Wheelbase: 113.6 in
Curb weight: 4115 lb
EPA City/Hwy: 16/23 mpg
Safety equipment: Front/side/head airbags, ABS, Traction & Stability Control, optional Distronic (radar) Cruise Control and Parktronic collision warning
Major standard equipment: Active Body Control, COMAND audio/navigation system, dual-zone HVAC, TeleAid emergency/assistance service, power windows/seats/locks
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles

© 2001 The Car Connection


Printable Version

2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Coupe

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

HID Headlights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std
Rain Sensing Wipers Std

Accident Prevention

Rear Parking Aid Opt


Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Opt
Printable Version

2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Coupe

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Drivetrain 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Corrosion 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance Unlimited Years/Unlimited Miles

Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

The MBCPO Limited warranty provides vehicle coverage for 12 months and Unlimited vehicle miles and begins at the expiration of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 years / 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection Yes
Return/Exchange Program Yes. See dealer for details.
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible No

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2001 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Coupe

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