By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
The 2016 GL-Class by Mercedes-Benz is the company’s flagship luxury SUV. As such, it must demonstrate more that just an ability to please the eye and soothe the senses. Luxury SUVs still have to perform like their commoner cousins, and here the GL does not disappoint. Offering a variety of engine options, the GL is never short on power. Whether you choose the twin-turbocharged V8 in the GL550 or the torque-happy diesel in the GL350 BlueTEC, you’ll find more than enough power for passing, towing and thrilling the heck out of unsuspecting passengers. The GL’s impeccable build quality, safety ratings and resale are also part of the big Benz’s story, as is the look of success this SUV imparts on the person behind the wheel.
KBB Expert Ratings
After a major update last year, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL rolls into the new year with only minor changes. Cinnabar Red metallic paint is axed from the color palette, and five years of mbrace services is now standard.
You might think a vehicle as tall and heavy as the Mercedes-Benz GL luxury SUV for 2016 could be a handful, but its tank-like solidity and taut suspension would prove...
... you wrong. Comfortable and stable, the GL feels like any other big Mercedes sedan only with more seats and a higher driving position. The interior is well isolated from outside distractions, but there is some noticeable tire noise on the V8 and AMG trims due to their larger performance tires. Under its hood, the 2016 GL-Class from Mercedes-Benz offers a number of tantalizing powertrains. Be it the twin-turbo V6 in the GL450, the torque-happy diesel in the GL350 BlueTEC or the awesome thrust provided by 550 horsepower in the GL63 AMG, power is one commodity never in short supply. The GL comes standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive, which can even be equipped with a 2-speed transfer case for light off-roading.
BlueTEC DIESEL V6 ENGINE
When it comes to clean, quiet diesel engines, it just doesn’t get any better than the 3.0-liter V6 in the 2016 MB GL350 BlueTEC 7-passenger SUV. The GL’s diesel V6 generates more torque than most V8s, yet it still manages a very respectable 26 mpg highway.
SURROUND VIEW SYSTEM
With four cameras strategically positioned at various points, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV’s Surround View system creates a 360-degree bird’s-eye view, making it easier to park as well as helping reduce the chance of hitting objects normally hidden from view.
The 2016 GL-Class seats seven passengers in three rows with good legroom for all occupants. Cargo space behind the third row is somewhat limited, but folding the second and third rows down opens up the cargo capacity to a generous 93.8 cubic feet. Fit and finish of the interior is impeccable, with soft-touch surfaces and lots of well-done wood and metal trim. Standard equipment includes MB-Tex, which is very much like leather, with real leather an option. The seats themselves are terrific for long hauls, and outward vision is good except to the rear, so the blind-spot monitoring system is a wise choice.
The rugged, somewhat boxy look of the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class luxury SUV for 2016 will not be mistaken for anything other than a Mercedes. Its purposeful stance has a definite presence, with a reasonable step-in height aided by a small side step rail and an easily accessible roof rack. Gracing the GL’s sides are artful creases and detailing, and the entire effect is one of luxury, style and confidence. Taller drivers and passengers will appreciate the rear liftgate’s high travel, allowing easy loading of large items while reducing the chance of bruising one’s forehead.
Even the base 2016 GL-Class is well-equipped. The GL350 has heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, sunroof, power tailgate, power-folding 3rd-row seats, rearview camera and an audio system with a 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.
Extras for the MB 2016 GL-Class luxury SUV are in the form of packages or as stand-alone options. The package that includes a premium harman/kardon sound system and soft-close doors is nearly $6,000. Others packages, such as a heated wood-and-leather steering wheel, are relative bargains at just a few hundred dollars. Additional features include a night-vision assist system, blind-spot monitoring, navigation system and 3-zone climate control. For the few who will want to venture off the beaten track in this luxury SUV, the On/Off Road package has a 2-speed transfer case, 6-mode drive selector and added underbody protection.
The GL350 uses a 3.0-liter V6 BlueTEC turbodiesel engine with 455 lb-ft of torque and an EPA highway fuel-economy rating of 26 mpg. The GL450 has a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that can launch it to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, while the GL550 employs a 4.6-liter twin-turbo V8 that can make the same sprint in a mere 5.5 seconds. The GL63 AMG has a hand-built 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that makes an enviable 550 horsepower. GL-Class models have 4Matic all-wheel drive standard, and all engine choices are connected to a smooth 7-speed automatic transmission.
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 (GL350 BlueTEC)
240 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm
455 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (GL450)
362 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/21 mpg
4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (GL550)
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 (GL63 AMG)
550 horsepower @ 5,250-5,750 rpm
560 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC 4Matic comes in just above $65,500. A GL450 starts a little over $67,000 and a GL550 is just over $92,000. The GL63 AMG will be in the neighborhood of $122K, depending on how you equip it, and a GL550 can easily reach over $100,000 when loaded with options. The GL’s starting price is near those of a Cadillac Escalade and Range Rover Sport. It is more than the base price of a BMW X5, Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60, Buick Encore and Lincoln Navigator, and less than the starting price of the Lexus LX 570. Before buying, 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 2016 Mercedes GL-Class is expected to have very good resale value, with diesel models doing particularly well.