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
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC SUV's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price MSRP) starts at $61,570, while the 2012 GL450 starts exactly one thousand dollars more. Topping the GL range is the 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL550, with a cost of entry of $85,300. On the GL350 and GL450, adding only the Premium Package I increased the price about $4,000. Other options, such as the Rear-Seat Entertainment System and full leather package, can kick the price up to the GL550 level quickly, so consider your specific needs carefully if shopping around for a GL-Class. Be sure to check out kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price, to see what others in your area paying for the 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV is an excellent choice in terms of resale value, with residuals a few percentage points above those of the Land Rover Range Rover.
By Disappointed (CA) on Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks and feels nice, solid"
Cons: "Too expensive to maintain"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"We bought this car certified pre-owned about two years ago. Seven months after the extended warranty ran out, we had to pay $5000 for a new steering rack. Now, three months after that, the Check Engine light comes on, and we have to pay another $3000 for a new thermostat and intake manifold, not to mention that we apparently need new brakes, spark plugs, boot, and air filters. Maintaining this car is really breaking the bank."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By BBG (FL) on Sunday, October 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 136,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "Poor quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This is my 3rd Mercedes. Quality and customer service are images of the past Mercedes-Benz. I have religiously serviced this vehicle and taken care when driving. After numerous mechanical problems and thousands of dollars in repairs, I will never purchase another M-B product. Replaced transfer case, front struts, etc, etc. Service manager tried to get M-B to help with cost of transfer case failing after 80K miles, to no avail. They just don't build them like they used to."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Mike (Canada) on Wednesday, October 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 140,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "navigation system, Comfortable Leather, fun"
Cons: "A little bulky but not really"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Before I purchased my GL-450 i had a Lexus RX-350 which was a mistake because of the constant problems because of the lack of quality. Anyway, My GL-450 for my family and I has been the perfect fit. For long drives it is very comfortable even without the Premium Package and the easy third row, My previous car also had a third row but it was hard to access and not comfortable. It has a lot of storage space. This car has a lot of great features and good highway miles. Over all this is a great car"
By esc on Friday, August 09, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Too $$$$ - My approximate mileage is 98,000
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I drove the GL550 for 5 years and 98,000 miles, would have traded it in for a new one but... From mile 1 to mile 48,000 it was great. A few minor issues, all covered by the warranty. Maintenance was expensive, about $1200-2000 each time in, mainly because of the $600 tires (yes, $600 a tire). From 48,000 to 98,000 the car cost us $18,000 in repair costs. It was in the shop every 3-5 months. I loved many things about this SUV, drove beautifully, great size-fitting my family of 5 well, looked great, luxury features. We ultimately settled on a more reliable car for our trade in. If you decide on this model, buy the extended warranty!!"
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By ALI (NJ) on Saturday, July 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love to drive, smooth, Nice handling, strong"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car in 2008. really nice SUV. Comfortable, smooth drive. good if you have family you will love it. suv works great in all weather conditions. I will recommend this car to everyone who is looking for luxury Large SUV"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Atlcarguy (GA) on Sunday, February 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, quiet, space, fuel mileage"
Cons: "Nav system, run flat tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is our second GL. We have owned it since September 2010. Our previous GL was a 2008 GL 320CDI. This is by far one of the best cars that you can own. We have loved both of our GLs and would only get the diesel. Lower initial our purchase , better resale, and awesome fuel mileage. My two biggest complaints with the 2011 are the nav system (Mercedes issue same on my 2011 E cabriolet too) and the run flat tires. They are required because bluetec prevents spare. We were told that we were very lucky to get 28,000 miles out of ours. It was $2,400 for four titles installed. MB should be embarrassed for using a second rate product on one of their premier vehicles. Other than that love the vehicle. Looking to get a 2014 in the fall. Love the new style"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful