By KBB.com Editors
The Mercedes GL-Class is a seven-passenger full-size SUV with refined styling, performance, luxury and safety in a package that is fairly reasonable in size compared to other vehicles in its class. With engines ranging from the 3.0-liter 50-state-legal clean diesel of the GL350 BlueTEC to the 5.5-liter V8 of the GL550 and a host of accessory packages, the GL-Class has broad appeal and makes tough competition for full-size SUV's such as the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX 570, Land Rover Range Rover and Infiniti QX56.
If you are torn between a need for passenger and cargo room and a want for refined driving dynamics and appearance, the Mercedes GL-Class could be the solution for your dilemma. Those looking for fuel economy in the full-size SUV class would do well to give the GL350 BlueTEC a serious look.
If you don't need three rows of seats in your vehicle it would be hard to argue where any GL-Class model would be a better fit for you than, say, the popular mid-sized M-Class. Some may find the GL-Class styling a bit restrained in a field with dynamic, aggressive exteriors.
For 2011 the GL-Class will have Mercedes' new "mbrace" technology as standard. Mbrace features 24/7 assistance options along with real-time traffic monitoring and other conveniences, including remote door locking/unlocking. Mbrace also can be accessed via mobile phone application, taking personalization and convenience to a new level. Second and third-row seats in 2011 GL-Class models also have new head restraints designed to minimize whiplash occurrences. All three models also will offer an optional Blind Spot Assist. The 2011 GL550 gets a restyled bumper.
Driving Impressions The GL450 acquitted itself well in testing through variable road conditions including some serious bends and an aggressive off-road experience, especially with the Adaptive Damping System making its contribution. The...GL450's nimble handling belies its size (curb weight is almost 5,300 pounds and overall length is around 200 inches); behind the wheel you may feel as if you're driving a smaller, lighter SUV. The seven-speed automatic's gear ratios are spaced close enough to each other to make the most of the GL450's 4.6-liter V8. While the GL450 may not have the off-road pedigree of other SUVs, such as the Range Rover, we liked the balance of practicality and capability it offered. Owners who want to push the GL450 without treating it as a pure hill-climber will find nothing lacking here.
Adaptive Damping System
The Adaptive Damping System in the GL-Class constantly monitors and reacts to road surface changes and can alter shock absorber settings an astounding 20 times per second. Adaptive Damping makes the ride smoother or firmer as needed, giving the driver comfort on a smooth highway or the confidence of control as conditions worsen.
BlueTEC V6 Diesel Engine
The BlueTEC clean diesel engine clears every emissions requirement in the U.S. while allowing the driver to cruise nearly 600 miles on a single full fuel tank. With fuel prices in flux, the BlueTEC is a very attractive prospect, especially in a family-friendly SUV.
The GL's eight-way power front seats offer four-way adjustable lumbar support, giving drivers near-endless ways to stay comfortable behind the premium leather multifunction steering wheel (or the Burl Walnut-accented steering wheel, available as an option). The third-row seats are easy to access and can fold down at the touch of a button along with the second row, creating just over 83 cubic feet of cargo room. Mercedes has gone out of its way to make every seating position in the GL-Class comfortable and enjoyable and that work pays off: It's one thing to fit seven adults in a single vehicle but to see that no one is stuck in the "bad" seat shows some true ingenuity.Exterior
The GL-Class got some styling revisions for the 2010 model year and, save for the 2011 GL550's bumper, Mercedes has left those changes alone. Across the range, Mercedes has managed to deftly walk the fine line between expectations of the drivers of vehicles in this class and fans wary of the marque's foray into the distinctly modern full-size SUV category. At once elegant, assertive, powerful and subtle, the GL-Class is pleasant to observe and stands out without crossing a line into being gauche or over-the-top. At first glance the grille and sloping windshield could belong to any modern Mercedes sedan or coupe, but the lower front fascia and flared wheel wells plant the GL-Class firmly in SUV territory. Good sight lines along with the new optional Blind Spot Assist built into the exterior mirrors, bi-xenon headlamps and optional parking assist make the design of the 2011 GL-Class functional as well as stylish and help keep it that way.
GL-Class models come with an impressive list of standard features, giving them a tremendous amount of value and really setting them apart from other SUVs in the class. Full-time four-wheel drive, brake assist, hill-start assist for high-angle takeoffs, the Electronic Stability Program and a full complement of airbags, including side-curtain protection extending through all three rows of seats, provide excellent safety for drivers and passenger alike. The in-dash six-disc CD/DVD fills the cabin with sound and allows drivers to watch DVD movies when the vehicle is in Park. Front and rear sunroofs are a nice touch, bringing an untypical ambiance to rear-seat passengers. The GL550 adds Mercedes' Comand voice control system to the stereo, navigation and Bluetooth features along with the harman/kardon LOGIC7 sound system and mp3/iPod connectivity.
Even with all that the GL-Class includes as standard equipment, there is a litany of options to fit every driver's needs or wants. The Rear-Seat Entertainment System adds two eight-inch LCD screens to the backs of the front-seat head restraints, allowing passengers to watch DVDs, play video games or do both at the same time. Many options, including the Comand system, the harman/kardon LOGIC7 stereo, hard-drive navigation, Sirius Satellite Radio, iPod/mp3 interface, power rear liftgate and backup camera, can be had via packages or separately. Parktronic parking assist, Blind Spot Assist, a Class-IV trailer hitch and full leather seats are also available.
The 2011 GL-Class has three engine choices: The GL350's BlueTEC 3.0-liter diesel V6 stands out among diesels for its low-end torque, allowing quick acceleration while returning 21 miles per gallon highway. The wonderful 4.6-liter V8 in the GL450 is all about performance, swiftly delivering the force of its 335 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque across the full rpm spectrum. The GL550 packs a powerhouse 5.5-liter V8, churning out 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. All 2011 GL-Class models send their power to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters at the wheel if you like to take matters into your own hands.
3.0-liter V6 Turbodiesel
210 horsepower @ 3400 rpm
400 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-2800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/21
335 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
339 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2700-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18
382 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
391 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/17
By What a Disappointment on Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I owned and sold this car
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This is a wonderful vehicle to travel with. Very comfortable on long distances and, with it's large fuel tank and very good fuel economy stops can be made when you chose rather than when you have to. However, traveling becomes less fun when the car needs multiple visits to the dealer per maintenance cycle for broken sensors, ad-blue tank and pump failures, etc. And that is in addition to failing oil cooler seals and a steering rack that needed to be replaced. Very disappointing, especially since it is a Mercedes-Benz........"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By garymporter on Wednesday, October 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Seats 7 passengers comfortably."
Cons: "Requires frequent, extensive maintenance."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"• It's too big. All the rear-view cameras, parking sensors and computer-assisted hydraulics come to naught in the average big-city parking garage. My own garage requires a fiendishly difficult 90-degree turn--or more realistically, several turns, as I drive a few feet forward, spin the steering wheel to the left, back-up, forward, etc etc.,resulting in a row of dings along both sides of the exterior. I have found myself, more than once, in the absurd situation of being trapped in my own car in my own garage, unable to open my door. And don't count on all the computer DSR's and Dynamic-Something's off-road, either. Last winter, out in a cow pasture, the thing slid sideways down a 70-degree muddy embankment and into a tree. This was of its own accord, btw, driven by its own weight. (To be fair, I can hardly blame the engineers for this particular incident, as the car was parked with the engine off at the time.) • It uses too much gas. 14 mpg (premium fuel) is about the best it can do in the city, which bothers me. On the rare occasion I drive a straight 100 miles out on the highway, I may be able to stretch it to 18 mph. The monitor once flickered at 20.5 mpg for a few seconds--the holy grail. • Maintenance is a horror. If you live within walking distance of a Mercedes-Benz dealership and happen to carry $1000 cash around with you at all times, and have a multitude of friends and family you can call at any hour to come pick you up on some lonesome highway, you my friend, are the ideal GL-550 owner. I happen to live 100 miles from the nearest M-B dealership. (I know. What was I thinking?) Last summer, a flat tire--in my driveway--turned into a week-long ordeal. This car is, as far as I can tell, the only automobile in existence with 21-in. wheels--a Mercedes exclusive, perfect for when the rubber meets the Autobahn. Not so perfect for two-lane blacktops. As you can imagine, 21-inch tires can be a bit hard to come by. Special order, don't you know. A three-day wait, in my case, during which I was dependent on the kindness of the aforementioned friends and relatives to cart me around. Which is a bore. The 3-day sequester did give me time to, sort of, get over the fact that the price of this precious 21-inch tire--Pirelli and Continental are the two choices, one priced at around $20 less--is almost $1000. Times four if I'd replaced the other three, which, judged by their looks, are also not long for this world. In fact, $1000 seems to be the magic number. Everything on this car that can possibly break or require routine maintenance --from the tires, to fixing the electronic liftgate which sometimes opens, sometimes not, to anything to do with hydraulics (don't get me started), to an oil change, to replacing the plastic widgets that work the electric windows--which snapped and broke off like four acrylic fingernails the first time I tried to open the windows--costs $1000. Or more. Much more. The car, in the two years I've owned it, has never been in complete working order. Something. Always. Breaks. This month it's the hydraulics. The poor thing is listing to one side and rides like a tractor. I look like the Titanic coming down the road. • There is, I am sure, a market for 7-passenger SUV's with 4.8-liter V-8 engines and silky 7-speed automatic transmissions. It is a tiny market, which does not include middle-aged single men, and would appear to be populated by owners who don't really drive their own cars. Jennifer Lopez. Kim Kardashian. Movie stars. Cement ponds.... I felt like Kanye for a week or two after I bought it. Now I feel like Kanye's driver."
22 people out of 45 found this review helpful
By Stan on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "handling, visability from drivers position"
Cons: "gas milage, tailgate window doesl not open"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Only negative is gas milage. Had Tahoe's and Yukon's prior to this, the GL450 is a far better vehicle. Just had a rental Yukon and the difference is off the charts."
11 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Vizcaya on Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quality, comfort, size"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Does everything they say - excellent quality, fun to drive and excellent gas mileage for a heavy SUV - good value."
21 people out of 36 found this review helpful
By SQ on Monday, March 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Not worth the $$$! Numerous things have broken inside the vehicle. The acceleration from a complete stop has left me panicked more than once. It is very delayed! You must ezzzz onto the accelerator, I have been told. Well sometimes that just isn't the situation...The expense of servicing this vehicle is outrageous. Especially when you drop off your vehicle and they say "oh this is a minor service" Then you pick it up to pay "only" $500 or $600. Major services run $1500 or more. Tires are also a crazy expense for this car."
14 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By jreez on Thursday, January 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice interior, great cruise control, nice ride."
Cons: "breaks a lot, bad cust. svc, unworkable nav system"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Had this car for under a year when the problems started - nothing that big, just little things like headlights going out (3 times) or check engine and other warning lights coming on. We'd take it to the dealer, and they'd take care of the problem, but it got to be a hassle to take it in so often. Then, almost exactly at 4 years / 35k miles, just when the warranty ran out, we got several oil leaks, as well as other, very expensive problems. Tried to talk to MB customer service but they would not return our (repeated) calls for weeks - outrageous for a car of this supposed caliber and a company that supposedly prides itself on excellence. All in all a horrible experience with Mercedes, and one I haven't had with Porsche, Lexus, BMW, and various other cars. I've since talked to friends and they've had similar bad experiences with their Mercedes. I will not buy one again."
19 people out of 22 found this review helpful