Making its first public appearance in New York, the all-new 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class benefits from a comprehensive recasting that endows this full-size super-luxury all-wheel-drive SUV with an even more imposing presence. A sleeker appearance, greater refinement, enhanced comfort and safety features plus the choice of three different engines -- all with more power and better fuel economy -- add significant appeal to what was already a benchmark player in its segment.
Although its overall dimensions vary only marginally compared to the Gen I GL-Class and the wheelbase remains at 121.0 inches, the recast Gen II iteration displays a decidedly more sophisticated sense of style and proportion. New front and rear fascia detailing, including more evocative LED-infused headlamp and taillamp treatments, coupled with redrawn character lines and body side sculpting raise its curb-appeal index while relatively short front/rear overhangs and 10.9 inches of standard ground clearance leave no doubt about the GL's formidable potential when the pavement ends.
The spacious seven-passenger cabin in the 2013 GL-Class received a similarly comprehensive remake that endows it with a richer, more contemporary look and feel. Fine wood and M-B Tex or optional leather highlight this serene space that Mercedes says rivals an S-Class for quietness and isolation. A sweeping wraparound dash, more user-friendly instrumentation and control layouts plus a large center display for the standard COMAND telematics and infotainment systems provide an even warmer welcome. The redesign also has yielded more people space in all seating positions as well as a standard power-folding feature for the third row and an optional Power Easy-Entry system that facilitates access to the innermost tier of perches.
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class will be available in three variations when it goes on sale here in September. While model designations carry over, each boasts more muscle, lower emissions and improved - although as yet unspecified - fuel economy ratings. Anchoring the mix is the GL450 BlueTEC 4MATIC with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel that makes 240 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque compared to the 210/400 stats of its current counterpart. Next in line is the GL450 4MATIC that packs a gasoline-fired 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 rated at 362 horses and 406 lb-ft of twist, output bumps of 27/67 output units, respectively. Topping the range here is the GL550 4MATIC. Its even-stouter 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 develops 429 ponies and 516 lb-ft of torque, well beyond the 382/391 figures of the present model. All three engines are matched with a seven-speed automatic transmission.
To further help in the mileage-maxing quest, the 2013 GLK-Class makes extensive use of lightweight alloys where possible, including an aluminum hood, fenders and various suspension components. All models also come with more efficnent electromechanical power steering and have self-leveling Airmatic suspension that's now augmented by a new Crosswind Stabilization feature. A new roll-mitigating Active Curve System also has joined the option list.
All 2013 GL-Class models feature an even longer list of standards that now includes tri-zone climate control, a power liftgate, electric power/tilt sliding glass sunroof, heated 8-way power front seats and the addition of M-B's Attention Assist and Collision Prevention Assist systems to supplement the GL's existing megaload of carryover safety features. Parktronic Parking Assist, a panorama glass roof, surround-view cameras, active bi-xenon headlamps, harman-kardon Surround Sound audio, Keyless-Go and a variety of custom paint and designo interior trim choices also are either standard or available.
Other key GL-Class options include the Driver Assistance Package (Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe Brake, Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist) for all models and the On- and Off-Road Package (Adaptive Damping System, dual-range transfer case with reduction gear, longitudinal differential lock, six transmission settings and underride protection) that available on the GL450 and GL550. Expect pricing on all of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class models to be released closer to their on-sale date.