Mercedes-Benz CL550

Jim put me in the CL550 cold turkey, with no training on the extensive gadgetry.

Don't ever do that.

I’d say 30 percent of the operational controls are different from those most us are accustomed to using.

Take the cruise control stalk, which sits just above the turn signal stalk and looks like the directional signal control. I activated it several times by mistake when I went to signal a left turn.

Some of the gadgetry, however, gets top scores from me. The lane departure warning system that vibrates the wheel when a driver is drifting over a lane marker is excellent. It's not quite like reaching the rumble strip, but it is close enough to get a distracted driver’s attention. The automatic wipers are also excellent. The standard night vision system, however, tops my list of desirable accessories.

Other items don’t score as high.

It can take time and concentration to figure out the audio system, and I never did attempt to use the standard navigation unit, though it worked well for Jim.

I recognize that people who buy $113,150 cars do not worry about fuel economy the way I do. We averaged 20.2 miles per gallon, on premium, of course.

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