The hulking SUV made even more docile.
Don’t let the GL’s bulky size and chunky styling deceive you. This massive SUV is about as civil as they come. Credit for that goes to the standard air suspension and the optional Active Curve System, which varies the stiffness of the antiroll bars to control body roll in corners. In many ways, the GL is as nice inside as Mercedes-Benz’s flagship, the S-class, with an options list that includes soft-close doors, lane-keep assistance, and an overhead-view camera system that makes parking this big boy a cinch. There’s an off-road package with a locking center differential and a two-speed transfer case, but this GL is more at home in parking lots and cul-de-sacs than on the trail. To that end, the redesigned second row now tumbles forward for easier access to the compact third row. Four engines are offered: three V-8s and a diesel V-6 with significantly better fuel economy. The diesel engine has impressive power and remarkable refinement; it’s nearly silent from inside the cabin. However, it suffers from low-end turbo lag and runs out of breath in the upper half of its narrow power band. We’d recommend sticking with one of the potent V-8 engines or checking out the competitors’ diesels. BMW’s X5 xDrive35d and Audi’s Q7 TDI are more affordable and more responsive. The GL’s advantages over those two are its larger cabin and butch looks, if that’s your thing.
new for 2013
Longer, wider, and taller, the GL-class is all-new for 2013. Mercedes has seen fit to offer more power, more features, and more luxury, but the GL’s role is essentially unchanged, serving as the largest, most capable hauler in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. With the demise of the R-class this year, the GL is the brand’s only three-row people mover.
ABS; front, front and second-row side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; a tire-pressure monitoring system; traction and stability control; and a rearview camera are standard. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and swiveling headlights are optional.
Mediocre fuel economy
Limited cargo room behind third row
Base Price Range: $63,305–$95,000 (est.)
TRIM LEVELS: GL350 BlueTec, GL450, GL550, GL63 AMG
BODY STYLE: SUV, 7-passenger
ENGINES: 3.0L turbo-diesel V-6, 240 hp, 455 lb-ft
4.7L twin-turbo V-8, 362/429 hp, 406/516 lb-ft
5.5L twin-turbo V-8, 550 hp, 560 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 143.6 cu ft
CAPACITIES: Towing 7500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 6.0/49.4/93.8 cu ft