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2001 ICOTY Awards - Luxury
Most Respected: Mercedes-Benz CL500

ROAD & TRAVEL's 2001 Most Respected -- Mercedes-Benz CL500There isn’t much about the CL500 that wouldn’t inspire one to lead. It is a car so good that itshould have you doing anything you can to claw your way up the corporate ladder just to own one. And what are its credentials, you ask? Well, for one thing, just look at it. The artful lines of the pillarless windows and body seams impart a certain delicacy, and its overall proportions give it its mass. Its design strikes that all-too-rare balance of substance and elegance, appearing at once light and airy yet considerable and impressive. Appealing equally to both men and women, it is the rightful image leader for the brand of the three-pointed star.

The CL’s driving environment is accordingly sublime. Rich wood and butter-soft leather are everywhere. Gauges are precise, legible, and easy to understand. The COMAND system, which unifies the radio, climate control, hands-free telephone and navigation systems into one screen-based operation, can be a bit confusing at first, but once the learning curve has been passed, it can be your best friend, entertaining you while guiding you wherever you’re going in safety. Speaking of safety, it’s hard to top the CL, with its Brake Assist, Stability Control system and a virtual cocoon of airbags to protect you in case anything goes really wrong. Sound like a lot to learn? It is, but should you have even the most asinine of questions, help is only the press of a button away, thanks to the TeleAid assistance center, standard on all Mercedes, which staffs its centers with real people who are there just to help you in case of emergency, a flat tire, or just plain confusion.

Granted, the price of admission is steep at around $90,000 for the CL500 (V-8) and $120,000 for the CL600 (V-12), but hey, this is a car that’s reserved for the leaders of this world, a clientele Mercedes has been serving for more than a century. Ladies and gentlemen, sharpen your claws!

Most Respected
Luxury Car of the Year
Mercedes-Benz CL500

Most Likely to Change the World
ECO- Friendly Car of the Year
Nissan Sentra CA

Most Likely to Survive Anything
SUV of the Year
Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute