By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is a full-size SUV that provides seating for seven. It offers elegant style, solid performance, technology and safety. The 2012 GL-Class is fairly comparable in size with other vehicles in its class. Under the 2012 GL's hood, engines range from the 210-horsepower, 3.0-liter diesel in the GL350 BlueTEC SUV to the 382-horsepower 5.5-liter V8 of the Mercedes-Benz GL550. A host of standard features and accessory packages give the 2012 GL-Class 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.
Buyers seeking refinement, luxury and style will find plenty to admire in the 2012 GL-Class, especially with its excellent passenger and cargo space. Those looking for fuel economy in the full-size SUV class would do well to give the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC a serious look, rather than immediately seek out a hybrid alternative.
Unless three rows of seats are a requirement, the GL-Class has a hard time making an argument against the popular midsize ML-Class SUV. The GL's exterior styling can also come off a bit subdued, if not downright awkward, from certain angles.
For 2012, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class carries over largely unchanged. The interior has received minor tweaks and adjustments, including directional lines for the rearview camera. All GL-Class models now feature LED daytime running lights as standard equipment.
Driving Impressions When tested through variable real-world environments, including some seriously sharp curves and an aggressive off-road path, the 2012 GL450 handled itself quite well. This is partially due to the Adaptive...Damping System, which helps to keep the wheels planted where they should be. Despite its hefty 5,300-pound curb weight, the GL450's nimble handling belies its size. Behind the wheel we felt as if we were driving a smaller, lighter SUV. The 7-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 large SUV may not have the off-road pedigree of some of its competition, we liked the overall balance of practicality and capability it offered. Owners who aren't afraid to test the off-road abilities of 2012 GL450 without treating it as a pure rock-climber will find nothing lacking.
Adaptive Damping System
The Adaptive Damping System in the 2012 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 tank of ultra-low-sulfur diesel. With fuel prices in flux, the BlueTEC is a very attractive prospect, especially in a family-friendly SUV.
Behind the multifunction steering wheel, which can be had with premium leather or burled walnut accents, drivers have practically unlimited ways to stay comfortable, thanks to the GL's 8-way power front seats with 4-way adjustable lumbar support. The third-row seats are easy to access and can fold down at the touch of a button. Stowing the second row creates just over 83 cubic feet of cargo room. While it's not revolutionary to be able to fit seven adults in a vehicle, the manner in which Mercedes made every seating position equally comfortable and enjoyable is certainly impressive. There is no "bad" seat in the 2012 GL-Class.Exterior
The exterior of the GL-Class enters 2012 unchanged from the previous year, aside from the addition of standard LED daytime running lights. Mercedes has done a good job holding its own in the modern full-size SUV category, smartly balancing the practical needs of the segment buyer with the quality expectations common for the luxury marque. At once elegant, assertive, powerful and subtle, the GL-Class is pleasant to observe and stands out without crossing a line into being gauche. While the lower front fascia and flared wheel wells plant the GL-Class firmly in SUV design territory, the grille and sloping windshield would be at home in practically any modern Mercedes Benz vehicle. Good sight lines along with the optional Blind Spot Assist built into the exterior mirrors, bi-xenon headlamps and optional parking assist make the design of the 2012 GL-Class functional as well as stylish.
GL-Class models come with an impressive list of standard features, giving them a tremendous amount of value and setting them apart from other SUVs. With a strong emphasis on the safety of its occupants, the GL-Class boasts full-time 4-wheel drive, brake assist, hill-start assist, for high-angle takeoffs. As with all 2012 models, Electronic Stability Control and a host of airbags are required by the government. Side-curtain airbags stretch along all three seating rows. The in-dash 6-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. Opting for the top Mercedes-Benz GL550 model rewards owners with the company's COMAND voice-control system as standard equipment, along with navigation and Bluetooth functionality.
Even with GL-Class' long list of standard equipment, there is a litany of options to fit every driver's needs or wants. Rear-seat occupants can enjoy quality entertainment, thanks to a pair of 8-inch LCD screens mounted on the back of the front-seat head restraints, enabling passengers to watch DVDs, play video games or even do both simultaneously. Many options, including hard-drive navigation, satellite radio, iPod/mp3 interface, power rear liftgate and rearview camera, can be had via packages or separately. Also notable is the availability of Parktronic parking assist, Blind Spot Assist, a Class-IV trailer hitch and full leather seats.
The 2012 GL-Class has three engine choices. The GL350's BlueTEC 3.0-liter diesel V6 stands out above its gasoline-fueled siblings, thanks to its gobs of low-end torque, which provides quick acceleration while returning 21 miles per gallon highway. The wonderful 4.6-liter V8 in the 2012 GL450 is all about performance, delivering 335 horsepower and 333 lb-ft of torque. The top-tier GL550 packs a powerhouse 5.5-liter V8, churning out 382 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. All 2012 GL-Class models send their power to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission.
3.0-liter V6 turbocharged diesel
210 horsepower @ 3,400 rpm
400 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/21
335 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
339 lb-ft of torque @ 2,700-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18
382 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
391 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/17
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."
14 people out of 32 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."
7 people out of 11 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."
17 people out of 30 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."
11 people out of 19 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 21 found this review helpful
By Mettecat on Saturday, December 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, well appointed, great looking"
Cons: "Expensive maintenance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love this car! I bought it in February 2010 with about 40000 miles on it and I added an extended warranty to 100,000 miles. I didn't buy it brand new because at the time my three kids were all under the age of four so I didn't want them to ruin a brand new one! I now have just under 70,000 miles and haven't really had a major issue yet. Aside from regular maintenance I've only had it in for a couple minor issues (ALL covered under warranty). The only one I specifically remember was the motor on the back door started malfunctioning so they replaced that and one of the air shocks (I think that's what it was called) had a leak so they replaced that as well. My only complaint in this model year is that the nav system isn't as great as the newer ones and it isn't really all that great if you're searching for POI's. I literally sometimes get a location that is hundreds of miles away even thought I know for a fact there's a location within 10 miles. In case you're thinking I may need to update my nav disk, that's not it. I bought a new one about a year ago. The only complaint I really have is that maintenance is expensive. Regular maintenance visits are several hundred dollars - pretty close to $1000. The other thing is that these cars are heavy and they go through tires MUCH quicker than I'm used to. They told me that when I bought it, but it still hurts. I just put new ones on for the second time and it runs about $1500. That's right - for the second time in 30,000 miles. All of this said, I really do like this car a lot. It's comfortable and even the third row is tolerable for me (I'm 5'7). I wouldn't want to be back there for a cross country trip, but when my mother in law is in town I always somehow wind up in the back somewhere (that's a whole saga in itself….) Anyway, that's about it. I'm just starting to look for a replacement - more because my husband thinks I need a new car. I'm perfectly happy in my car and since my boys are getting bigger I'm considering a larger SUV (maybe an Infiniti QX56 or Q80), but since I'm losing the 5 point harness car seat in late 2014, I may just stay in the same size car and therefore I'm seriously considering a 2013 or 2014 GL."
10 people out of 11 found this review helpful