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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The GL's bucket seats are well-shaped and supportive. The driver is fronted by a four-spoke steering wheel and what Mercedes-Benz describes as a "sport-oriented" instrument panel. The horizontal grab handles on the console are notable, alluding – both aesthetically and functionally – to the GL's off-road capability. We remain undecided regarding the shift lever being mounted to the steering column; it does provide for a clean, uninterrupted console, but is less-than-intuitive in its operation. To its credit, the design team has provided reasonably easy access to the third row and generous headroom throughout the interior.Exterior
With the 2010 GL-Class, Mercedes-Benz hits all the right exterior notes. In profile, the GL is very well-proportioned, disguising its overall length (200.3 inches) with short overhangs, an aggressive windshield angle, generous greenhouse, flared wheel arches (similar to the S-Class) and careful detailing. The traditional Mercedes-Benz face is framed by high-tech halogen headlamps; optional bi-xenon lamps include a swiveling feature for additional visibility in turns. Privacy glass covers both the "B" and "C" pillars, giving the appearance of one uninterrupted glass panel along the entire side of the vehicle. It is, from any angle, a highly unified design.
With assembly in Alabama, the GL-Class – like both the M-Class and R-Class – is value-driven. That's reflected in a long list of standard equipment, where several items are notable. Passive safety is addressed with two-stage front airbags for front-seat occupants, side airbags for both first- and second-row seats and side-curtain airbags spanning all three rows. Audiophiles will enjoy a standard in-dash six-disc CD changer, auxiliary input for MP3 players and Bluetooth connectivity. Those living in the sunbelt should appreciate the front and rear (stationary) sunroofs with shade, while inhabitants of the snowbelt will benefit from standard full-time four-wheel drive. The GL550 adds 21-inch wheels, a rearview camera, running boards, full leather interior, Keyless Go, Parktronic park assist, heated rear seats, hard drive navigation and the harman/kardon LOGIC7 sound system.
Despite all that is standard, the GL's extensive list of options won't disappoint feature-oriented consumers. For occupants not in the front seats, the rear-seat entertainment system should provide plenty of entertainment. Offerings also include SIRIUS Real Time Traffic, hard-drive navigation, heated second-row seating, a rear-view back-up camera and a Class-IV trailer hitch to complement the GL's 7,500-pound tow rating.
There are three engine options for the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. The GL350 BlueTEC employs a powerful yet fuel-efficient 3.0-liter direct-injection turbo-diesel V6. With plenty of low-end torque for quick acceleration, the GL350 delivers an impressive 23 miles per gallon in highway driving. The GL450 is powered by a marvelous 4.6-liter V8. If, as advertised, the GL450 represents "more Mercedes to love," then this new V8 is more performance to adore. With four valves per cylinder, the engine delivers a seamless 335 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque and, more impressively, delivers that power and torque over a broad engine speed range. The powerhouse 5.5-liter V8 in the GL550 cranks out 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Connecting the smooth power to all four wheels is a seven-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission.
3.0-liter V6 Turbo Diesel
210 horsepower @ 3800 rpm
400 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-2800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23
335 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
339 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2700-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17
382 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
391 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4800 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."
21 people out of 41 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."
12 people out of 20 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
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."
13 people out of 15 found this review helpful