2013 Mercedes-Benz GL
Base price: $63,900 – $86,900
As tested: $93,040
MPG: 19 city/26 highway
- Opulent, comfortable interior
- Innovative and dynamic safety and technology features
- Fuel-efficient diesel engine
- Poor rear visibility
By Jim Prueter
Mercedes-Benz recently remade its full-size GL SUV, the second generation of the surprisingly easy-to-drive family-size hauler. It caters to those who prefer comfort and space and is largely entertaining to drive. It is the best selling three-row SUV, going head-to-head with vehicles such as the Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Audi Q7, Lexus LX, and Infiniti QX56.
The GL is an indulgent vehicle that falls under the heading of excess capacity. It’s a paragon of luxury, performance, and technological advances, with a solid, comfortable, and opulent build. No matter the aesthetic you prefer — chiseled, chic, muscularly handsome — the GL simply annihilates the competition.
But the GL has one fault: the large rear roof pillars seriously impair rearward visibility. The backup camera helps but doesn’t completely compensate.
You want safety and technology? The GL’s profoundly clever suite of dynamic safety systems are unmatched by the competition: a steel reinforced cabin with dual two stage front airbags, rear side airbags, window curtain and driver’s side knee airbags, crosswind stabilization, collision prevention assist, distronic plus with pre-safe brake, active blind spot assist, massive braking, and active lane keeping assist.
The driving experience isn’t that of a sports sedan, but handling is surprisingly agile and responsive for such a big SUV. There isn’t much body lean, and you can drive it spiritedly without the sense that you’re piloting a land yacht.
Consistent with the outgoing model, three engines are available. Offering exceptional performance, our tester was powered by the 240-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V-6 that has 37.5 percent better fuel mileage than the standard 4.7-liter V-8 engine.
Overall, we think the new GL looks terrific with its new restyle, is impressive with its new safety technology, drives smaller than it looks, is an excellent performer, and is the class leader in the full-size three-row luxury SUV category.