Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS


Now in more practical five-seat form

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When Mercedes first introduced the CLS for the 2006 model year, we thought it was one of the best-looking cars Mercedes had ever built. The second-generation CLS showed up for 2012 with a more controversial design that reinvigorated sagging sales. Now, for 2019, Mercedes has launched a new CLS. But how does it compare to the car it replaces?

Up front, Mercedes has given the CLS a new grille and air vents that wouldn’t look out of place on the rest of its current lineup. The headlights, meanwhile, get their own design. At the moment, they help the CLS stand out, but considering how similar they look to the A-Class prototypes we’ve seen running around, that may not be the case for long. Still, the front end of the new CLS is a lot cleaner and less busy than before.

In profile, it’s clear Mercedes decided to draw more inspiration from the first-generation than the second-generation CLS. The aggressively flared rear fenders and sharp creases of the 2012 version are gone, replaced with smooth, flowing lines. Out back, Mercedes gave the CLS new taillights that help the rear end look less droopy. The license plate also sits lower on the new car than it did before.

Inside, the biggest change is in the back seat. After more than 10 years as a four-seater, the CLS now offers seating for five. If you’re familiar with the current E-Class, you won’t find many surprises in the new CLS. But considering how stylish and luxurious the current E-Class is, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Compared to the previous version, the new CLS’ interior is much cleaner, with fewer buttons cluttering the dash.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but the 2019 CLS is expected to arrive in U.S. dealers sometime next fall. It will come in both rear and all-wheel-drive configurations, first as the CLS450 and later in AMG-tuned CLS53 form.

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