By Matt Degen - Updated Date: 10/8/2012
The 2013 GL-Class is Mercedes-Benz's version of a big SUV. This 3-row, 7-passenger vehicle aims to be the S-Class of sport-utility vehicles, and it largely mimics that flagship sedan's traits with a library-quiet cabin, pothole-absorbing suspension, and power on demand. 2013 marks the second generation of the GL, bringing a redesigned exterior and interior, and a host of high-tech safety features. Don't let the 2013 GL-Class's posh ride and supple interior fool you: It can be a workhorse when required. The vehicle's stout diesel or gasoline engines can tow up to 7,500 pounds, and with ample ground clearance and all-wheel drive, the GL is capable of moderate off-roading. The GL63 AMG high-performance variant takes ground-pounding performance to a new level.You'll Like This Car If...
If you need to haul people and/or cargo and desire one of the plushest, technologically advanced vehicles in which to do it, the 2013 Mercedes GL-Class could be just your ticket. Slightly smaller than a Cadillac Escalade and more rugged-looking than an Audi Q7, the GL is the vehicular equivalent of the strong and silent type.You May Not Like This Car If...
The GL's accouterments and abilities don't come cheap. The least expensive GL-Class starts at more than $63,000, and costs can rise to over $100,000 for a loaded version. Less-expensive – yet still posh – alternatives are the Audi Q7, Infiniti JX and Buick Enclave.What's New for 2013
2013 marks the second generation of the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. This luxury SUV that's built in Alabama now has a slightly larger exterior and redesigned interior, more powerful and fuel-efficient engines, and standard safety systems such as collision prevention assist, which employs radar to warn the driver of a potential crash.Driving It Driving Impressions
"Quiet" and "capable" are the two best words to describe the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. Though the vehicle is quite large, it does not feel that way on the road. The GL's turning radius is relatively compact, which makes parking easier. The GL-Class is an exceptionally quiet, comfortable and composed vehicle. These characteristics are laudable in a sedan, never mind a 3-row SUV. Road tendencies favor the cushy vs. the dynamic, though a "sport" mode can be put to good use on twisty roads to firm up steering feel. The BlueTEC V6 diesel engine in GL350 models feels like a traditional V8 on the highway, but suffers from turbo lag when floored from a standstill. The turbocharged gasoline V8 engines in the GL450 and GL550 make this SUV quick but are much less fuel-efficient than the diesel. The GL's standard all-wheel drive (AWD) easily tackles dirt roads and offers good grip in inclement weather.Favorite Features
The 2013 GL's cabin deserves high marks for its isolation. Combined with an air suspension that gives this big SUV a smooth ride, the GL provides a quiet retreat from the rest of the world.
SURROUND VIEW SYSTEM
With this optional feature, four cameras work together to create a virtual bird's-eye view of the GL-Class to make parking easier. This marks the first Mercedes vehicle to receive the high-tech system.
The 2013 GL-Class has a 3-row, 7-passenger cabin. Legroom in all three rows is good, but cargo space is limited with the third row up. The second- and third-row seats fold to create up to 93.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Interior fit and finish is impeccable, with loads of soft-touch surfaces accented by wood and metal. One moonroof is standard and two others are available over the second- and third-row seats to create an open, airy feeling. Driver and front passenger seats are comfortable even on long drives. Front outward vision is good, but hampered toward the rear, making the blind-spot monitoring system a smart choice. Upholstery in GL350 and GL450 models is the leather-like MB-Tex; the real thing costs extra.
The GL-Class has traditional SUV looks: boxy, rugged and rather imposing. Yet it distinguishes itself from other angular luxury-utility vehicles such as Land Rovers and its own brother, the military-derived Mercedes G-Class, with a forward-leaning stance that gives the GL an athletic appearance. The GL's front is characterized by the Mercedes' star in the center of a massive, twin-beam grille. A prominent skidplate peeks from under the bumper. Body-length side creases lend freshness to the 2013 GL's new design. The GL's posterior appears to grow significantly, and can overwhelm certain wheel styles. The GL550 has exposed twin tailpipes, while the GL63 AMG is distinguished by quad outlets.Notable Standard Equipment
As should be expected with its $60,000-plus starting price, even a base 2013 Mercedes GL-Class is well-equipped. Pick up a GL350, and you'll drive off with an SUV that has heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, sunroof, power tailgate and power-folding third-row seats, rearview camera and an audio system with 6-disc CD/DVD changer. Bluetooth audio streaming is standard, but if you want to physically connect your iPod, that's extra in the base model GL350 and GL450, and standard in the top-line GL550. The mbrace2 system lets you check on your vehicle, lock/unlock it and more from a smartphone or computer. Safety features include crosswind stabilization and systems that monitor for driver drowsiness or an impending collision.Notable Optional Equipment
Mercedes offers a wealth of extras for the GL-Class in the form of packages or as a la carte options. Some, like the package that includes a premium Harman/Kardon sound system and soft-close doors, cost nearly $6,000. Others, such as a heated wood-and-leather steering wheel, look like relative bargains at just a few hundred dollars. Additional features to make the GL safer, more enjoyable, or ultimately your own include a night-vision assist system, blind-spot monitoring, navigation system, and tri-zone climate control. For the few who will want to venture off the beaten track in this luxury SUV, there is the On/Off Road package that has a 2-speed transfer case, 6-mode drive selector, and added underbody protection.Under the Hood
The 2013 GL-Class debuts with a choice of three powertrains corresponding to model name. A high-performance AMG version is to arrive later in 2013. The GL350 uses a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel engine that returns the best fuel economy of the bunch: up to 26 mpg highway. The GL450 has a twin-turbo 4.6-liter V8, and the GL550 has another version of that engine that makes even more power and that can propel the vehicle from 0-60 mph in an estimated 5.5 seconds. The GL63 AMG uses a hand-built 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that makes an enviable 550 horsepower. GL-Class models have all-wheel drive standard, and all engine choices are connected to a smooth 7-speed automatic transmission.
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6
240 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm
455 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg
4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8
362 horsepower @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
406 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 mpg
4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8
429 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18 mpg
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8
550 horsepower @ 5,250-5,750 rpm
560 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for a 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 is just over $63,000. A GL450 starts right under $65,000, and a GL550 jumps to nearly $88,000. A GL550 can reach over $100,000 when loaded with options, but even at that level, its price tag is eclipsed by the GL63 AMG's $118,000 point-of-entry. The GL's starting price is near that of a Cadillac Escalade and Range Rover Sport. It is more than the base price of a BMW X5, Audi Q7, Infiniti JX, Buick Encore and Lincoln Navigator, and less than the starting price of the Lexus LX 570. Before buying, before to check the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com to see what others in your area are actually paying for the GL. In terms of residuals, the 2013 Mercedes GL-Class is expected to have very good resale value, with diesel models faring particularly well.