Elegant, luxurious and sophisticated; that's what we said back in 2006 when Mercedes brought to the U.S. its full-size SUV -- the GL-Class. Now, the second-generation 2013 GL-Class offers more of everything -- more luxury, more elegance and more capability.
Starting at $62,400, the 2013 GL-Class is offered in GL350 BlueTEC, GL450, GL550 and GL63 AMG models.
The GL450 model will be Mercedes' volume leader. To move its 5,400-plus pounds down the road respectably, Mercedes uses its popular twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8.
For 2013 this motor makes 362 horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. of torque -- up from 355-hp and 339 lb.-ft. of its predecessor's naturally aspirated 4.6-liter. Benz engineers estimate a 0-to-60 mph time of 6.2 seconds and an estimated fuel economy of 14 miles per gallon city and 19 mpg highway.
To get that kind of performance, the GL450 engine uses Direct Injection, turbocharging, variable valve timing, multi-spark ignition and a host of other smaller high-tech innovations. Connected to a seven-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain is smooth and responsive.
The GL's four-wheel independent air suspension is height-adjustable and self-leveling. Most owners will never take their GL off-road, but Mercedes-Benz engineers obviously intended this seven-passenger hauler to be capable of doing just that.
A fast drive on a rutted dirt and gravel fire road demonstrated to us just how well the air suspension can absorb every bump and depression, making the ride feel as if it were on a paved road. The Active Curve System, with its active stabilizer bars helps minimize body roll on twisting, curvy roads. For those who want to find their own road, an Off Road Package ($2,850) includes a larger skid plate, two locking differentials and six driver-controlled transmission/suspension settings.
Beyond compensating for surface conditions, the GL can also deal with gusty crosswinds. The standard Crosswind Stabilization feature senses when the wind is trying to blow the vehicle around, and applies selective braking to counter steer without driver input.
Slightly wider, longer and taller than its predecessor the GL distinguishes itself with sleek bumpers, front grille, chrome window trim, front and rear skid plates and LED taillights plus LED daytime running lights.
For 2013, the GL-Class gets a thorough update in the cabin and under the hood. Premium materials and impeccable workmanship create an atmosphere of exclusive comfort. This luxury SUV has heated power front seats, genuine wood trim and a retractable glass sunroof. New options include a double-sized power Panorama sunroof and multi-color ambient lighting. The two third-row seats can be stowed electrically with the push of a button to provide a totally flat cargo floor.
Standard on the 2013 GL, the Collision Assist warns the driver if a crash is imminent. Attention Assist delivers similar warnings if it detects erratic driver maneuvering. Collision Assist, however, won't apply the brakes unassisted to avoid a crash without the addition of the Driver Assistance Package ($2,800).
GL-Class buyers can upgrade with a long list of available options. Premium 1 offers navigation, satellite radio, 10-way power seats, dimmable/folding mirrors and ambient lighting for $3,500. The $5,850 Premium 2 package adds a Harmon Kardon sound system, keyless ignition, lockable rear storage, and soft close doors. The $1,290 Lighting Package adds bi-xenon headlights. A 3-Zone Climate Control is $1,450 and Parking Assist will parallel-park your GL for $1,290.
The Designo Leather package ($4,300) includes contrast stitched and piped leather. With options, you can run the price way up. But if you can afford it, you won't be disappointed.
2013 MERCEDES-BENZ GL450
VEHICLE TYPE__________________ 7-passenger full-size SUV
BASE PRICE____________________ $63,900
MOTOR TYPE___________________ 32-valve bi-turbo V-8 w/DI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 362 at 5000 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 406 at 1500-4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 7-speed automatic
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 201.6 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___ 40.7 ft.
CURB WEIGHT__________________5,401 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 26.4 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway