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2019 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is a luxury 2-seater with a retractable hard top. Actually, it’s the luxury 2-seater with a retractable hard top. Meaning that there’s nothing else answering to exactly the same description. And even if there was a plethora of direct rivals, chances are the SL-Class would sit at the top.

Over the years, the SL has always had a presence, something special about it that distinguished it from other cars. By offering a rich list of standard features, plus an impressive array of turbocharged engines that combine power with efficiency, the modern-day SL stays true to its traditional strengths of speed and comfort, while providing satisfying dynamics when pressed.

If ever an overall driving experience could be described as "gorgeous," the SL achieves it. The car can come with an adaptive suspension feature called Active Body Control (ABC), while its optional active seat bolstering amounts to an active human body control.

It isn’t just the visual and tactile senses that are stimulated. The SL features an audio system designed especially for open-topped cars. It places a subwoofer at the underside of the passenger footwell, so bass lines aren’t lost to the boom of the road. And the other speakers are located so that high frequencies retain their sheen against the whistle of the wind. It’s worth going for a drive just to hear music through a quality system instead of the usual feeble computer speakers at home.

Ultimately, the SL is much more than a mere car. It’s a statement, a reward for hard work, a prized possession, an automotive icon, and the latest in a long and illustrious line of fabulous roadsters. Earlier generations might be considered prettier, but none have been so crammed full of technology, luxurious details and fine materials.

What’s New for 2019?

Sadly, the AMG SL 65 version, powered by an awesome V12 engine, has been discontinued. This generation of SL is winding down and the next generation might not offer a V12. See the 2019 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Bulletproof construction with a seemingly endless list of luxury features
  • Satisfying performance even with its smallest engine
  • Unbeatable heritage and cachet

What We Don’t

  • Not even the AMG version can provide the absolute sharpness a real driver’s machine should have

How Much?

$90,415 to $155,535

Fuel Economy

The SL 450 and 550 models employ a 9-speed automatic transmission. The AMG S 63 has a 7-speed automatic transmission tuned for faster shifts. All engines have a stop/start fuel-saving function, and all versions use rear-wheel drive.

The 2019 SL range starts with the SL 450 and its twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 making 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it should return 20 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving.

The SL 550 has a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8, 449 hp and 516 lb-ft. Fuel consumption is estimated at 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.

The AMG SL 63 features a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that develops 577 hp and 664 lb-ft. Fuel economy is 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is available in SL 450, SL 550 and AMG SL 63 versions.

SL 450 ($90,415) includes 18-in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlamps (with mirror logo), fog lamps, LED running lights and taillights, semi-active suspension, a power-folding hardtop with a panoramic glass roof and a power wind deflector, keyless entry/ignition, hands-free trunk operation, forward collision mitigation, automated parallel/perpendicular parking function, leather upholstery (sun-reflecting), a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 12-way power-adjustable/heated seats with memory, ambient cabin lighting, a rearview camera, plus a Comand infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, twin USB ports, Bluetooth, HD/satellite radio and a Harman Kardon 600-watt/11-speaker surround sound system.

SL 550 ($114,545) brings the 4.7-liter V8, 19-in alloys, soft-closing doors, ventilated/massaging seats with active bolstering, and an Airscarf (vents in the seats at neck level emitting warm air).

SL 63 AMG ($155,535) involves the 5.5-liter V8 along with styling, handling and interior upgrades appropriate to its AMG status. Highlights include 19-in wheels, big brakes, adaptive sport suspension, a sport exhaust, a limited-slip differential, performance telemetry, and an IWC analog clock set into the dashboard.

All models can also be spec’d with a Driver Assistance package containing advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control, steering assistance, active lane keeping, and active blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

Also on the options list are Magic Sky Control (turning the glass roof panel from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button), power-closing doors, a Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker audio system, and Active Body Control adaptive suspension (SL 450/SL 550). And there are various special paint finishes as well as choices of leather upholstery. An SL can be personalized to a high degree if one is willing to splash out.

Options for the AMG SL 63 include a more sophisticated suspension setup, carbon fiber trim (exterior and interior), black chrome trim and ceramic-composite brake discs.

The trunk is pretty roomy by roadster standards, measuring 10.2 cu ft. with the top up. Folding the top reduces that to 7.2 cu ft. There’s also some stowage space behind the seats.

Safety

Along with front, side and knee airbags, there’s a pop-up roll bar, driver drowsiness monitor and the company’s pre-collision system (which tightens seat belts and primes the brakes).

Behind the Wheel

Construction is so robust that there’s hardly a hint of body flex when driving over rough surfaces, which makes the SL feels as rigid as a fixed-roof coupe. Acceleration is rapid yet refined. Even the V6-powered SL 450 zips from 0-to-60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. The SL 550 needs only 4.3 seconds, while the SL 63 requires four seconds flat.

Thanks to wide tires and ingenious suspension engineering, handling is virtually foolproof. However, this isn’t a car that tempts you to push the limits. SL roadsters have always been about brisk-yet-composed progress as opposed to true sports-car action. That holds true for the current model. Although the optional ABC suspension gives the impression of invincibility with its eerily flat cornering, the truth is that the SL remains more boulevard cruiser than canyon carver. Keep that in mind and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by its athleticism through the bends.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Aston Martin Vantage — More of a rival to the AMG SL 63. It’s a 503-hp beauty with serious driver appeal.

2019 Jaguar F-Type Convertible — Smaller, stiffer and louder than the SL-Class. That might be a good thing.

2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet — This 911 has a soft top just like the Jaguar and is also part of an iconic model range.

Used Bentley Continental GTC — A lightly used Bentley drop-top may be acquired for the price of a brand-new SL. Just make sure it comes with a warranty.

Autotrader’s Advice

The SL 550 seems to us like the quintessential version. It has power and poise, but doesn’t try too hard to be sporty, leaving its occupants to better enjoy the luxury side. Whichever model you choose, select the Driver Assistance package. You never know when it may pay for itself. One thing to bear in mind is that this generation will soon be succeeded. You might want to wait, or drive a harder bargain on a 2019 SL. Find a Mercedes-Benz SL-CLass for sale

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