By KBB.com Editors
One look at the luxury import segment and you see – very quickly – the preponderance of growth in the SUV category. While the M-Class has certainly enjoyed its share of success, its reception was hampered by the lack of a third-row seat at launch and, once a third row was finally introduced, the marginal comfort and accessibility of that seating did not impress buyers. Because many consumers required a larger vehicle, Mercedes-Benz created the GL-Class, a seven-passenger SUV with surprisingly modest exterior dimensions and host of engine choices including a 50-state legal diesel. With the GL, consumers retain the same sporty character and luxurious trappings of the M-Class, but in a slightly more expensive package offering far better utility.You'll Like This Car If...
If you want the benefits of Mercedes-Benz engineering, German build quality, American-style accommodations and the optional availability of a fuel-efficient turbo-diesel engine, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL delivers in spades.You May Not Like This Car If...
If third-row seating is not a requirement, you can get much of the same performance and luxury from the smaller M-Class. Those seeking a bit more exterior flash may be happier in a Cadillac Escalade or, if money is not object, a Mercedes-Benz G-Class.What's New for 2010
The GL350 BlueTEC and GL450 receive a freshened front and rear end, trapezoidal exhaust tips and redesigned front and rear skid plates. Inside, the GL offers new seats, burl walnut trim and a revised instrument cluster. The GL550 receives only minor changes as well as ambient interior lighting and LED daytime running lights.Driving It Driving Impressions
Subjected to highly variable road conditions, including some fairly aggressive on-road twists and turns and an equally aggressive off-road experience, the GL450 handled itself with grace, especially when equipped with the standard air suspension and optional adaptive damping. Despite almost 5,300 pounds of curb weight and an overall length right around 200 inches, the GL450 drives like a much smaller, significantly lighter SUV. Response from the 4.6-liter DOHC V8 is great, made more so by the excellent seven-speed automatic transmission. The GL450 can handle anything an owner with payments remaining would care to give it. It may not be quite as off-road capable as a comparably priced Range Rover, but we like its balance between on-road practicality and off-road capability.Favorite Features
Adaptive Damping System
The GL's air suspension can constantly react to road surface variations, with an ability to change shock absorber settings 20 times per second. If the road is smooth, the system delivers relatively softer shock absorber action and a smooth ride; if the road gets bad, the shock absorbers become more firm for increased control. The result is an SUV with a comfortable ride when you want it and appropriately more responsive handling when you need it.
BlueTEC V6 Diesel Engine
Emissions guidelines kept the old GL320 CDI from being sold in all 50 states, but the new BlueTEC clean diesel not only clears the stringent NOx bar, it can cruise nearly 600 miles on a single tank of fuel.