As carmakers struggle with the demand by car buyers of a fuel-efficient SUV, Mercedes is working hard to capture the market in America. The new 2013 GL-Class SUV offers three models that demonstrate Mercedes is meeting market concerns, which is why Motor Trend named it the SUV of the year for 2013.
Quality, safety and luxury options aside, Mercedes has responded to the SUV auto market with the GL350. It is a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 engine with 240 horsepower and a fuel-efficient 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. This fuel-efficient option is lacking in muscle but wins in functionality and substance. The GL450, a gas-powered 4.6-liter bi-turbo V8 engine, performs with 362 horsepower, but falls short with the gas-guzzling 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. The GL550 is the bull of this model as it is all about performance, speed and even luxury options. Also a 4.6-liter bi-turbo V8 engine, but with direct injection making it powerful and reactive, this version is 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway.
Other advances include the smooth 7-speed transmission in each, described as more efficient and reactive than past versions; the 4MATIC All-wheel Drive System; and the 4-Wheel Electronic Traction System. Each result in a controlled driving experience and reliability most would be impressed with — even from Mercedes.
As for design and luxury, the GL-Class brings this SUV to a whole new standard of useful and eye-catching options. From top-notch audio options to burl walnut wood trim, the “ruggedly all-new designs,” as Mercedes touts, goes further by adding more power outlets, more beverage holders and an enhanced logic to its controls and technology. The Collision Prevention Assist is being lauded as an industry highlight; and the mbrace2™ Cloud-based and GPS car, computer or Smartphone technology is the most comprehensive of its kind; all of which make the GL-Class SUV models the stand-outs for 2013.
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 350, 450, 550
City MPG: 19; 14; 13
Hwy MPG: 26; 19; 18
0-60 MPH: 8.3; 6.2; 5.5 sec
Transmission: 7-Speed Automatic
MSRP: $62,400; $63,900; $83,900