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Mercedes-Benz GL-class

The hulking SUV made even more docile.

DIESEL

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.

COMPETITORS

Audi Q7

BMW X5

Infiniti QX56

Lexus LX570

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.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

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.

MPG

CITY 12–18

HWY 17–24

(est.)

PRO

Cavernous interior

Lovely interior

Poised ride

CON

Mediocre fuel economy

Limited cargo room behind third row

Base Price Range: $63,305–$95,000 (est.)

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: 4-wheel

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

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