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2004 Mercedes-Benz SL Mid-Size Luxury Convertible

Description: Mid-Size Luxury Convertible
Base MSRP Range: $87,780 - $125,230
Invoice Price Range: $81,585 - $116,414

The Mercedes roadsters have seats for only two in a luxurious cockpit crowned by a sleek hardtop that, at the tap of a console switch, folds through electro-hydraulic muscle and tucks below the trunk lid. Its design, in part homage to the original Mercedes gullwing 300SL but also a projection into the future of sophisticated automobiles, scores among the most artistic to come from the tri-star brand.

Considering the entailed list of high-tech mechanical hardware encased by all of that curvaceous car metal, it's certainly the most sophisticated. There are devices aboard to stabilize forward movement and tire traction, smart brakes and adjustable suspension settings, plus multiple air bags to cushion the human cargo. SL500 also has electronic brakes in a brake-by-wire system dubbed Sensotronic Brake Control.

For 2004 there are three editions -- SL500 and SL600, plus the performance-driven SL55 AMG. SL500 draws from a 5.0-liter V8 that delivers 302 hp through the new Mercedes seven-speed automatic transmission with one-tap clutch-less TouchShift feature. SL600 gets the 5.5-liter bi-turbo V12 with inter-cooling to push the power curve up to 493 hp, and SL55 AMG has the AMG supercharged V8. New assets for 2004 include a steering wheel embedded with a heat element and the optional Keyless Go entry system integrated into a SmartKey.