Tuesday, August 8, 2017

(Look-back review) Devon test drives Mercedes version of the Suburban

(Photo provided by Devon M)
If you ever wanted a vehicle that made you feel like king of the road, the Mercedes GL fits the bill perfectly. There's room for seven passengers, with several variants to pick from. A fuel stingy diesel, smooth eight-cylinder engines and a widly fast AMG trim. With the constant rise in gas prices, will Mercedes be able to justify a purpose for the GL? Let's find out. 

Performance: There are four engines to choose from. The standard 3-liter turbo diesel producing 240hp is quite enough for the GL considering how large and heavy the SUV is. The benefit of having an abundance of torque really helps in everyday driving. If you need the extra horsepower or desire an eight-cylinder engine the 4.6L bi-turbo eight-cylinder will satisfy most buyers. The higher the range you climb the more potent the engines become as well as the price tag.

Ride & handling: The GL feels comfortable and agile for such a large vehicle. The only time the GL feels out of its element is when you drive it around in tight urban areas The sheer size makes it a chore to drive around, but then again so are its rivals. The ride comfort is smooth and irons out bumps well without sacraficing handling, even though most won't push the GL to its handling limits.

Refinement: When it comes to refinement the GL lives up to the standards set by Mercedes. Wind and road noise are so well surpressed that it feels like you're in a luxury lined Jet. The most impressive feature is the lovely snarl from the turbo eight-cylinder engine that's emitted when pushed hard. The turbo-diesel is clatter free and operates almost as if it were a gasoline engine.

Behind the wheel: The position and visibility outwards is good. The dashboard layout is similar to that of the E-class. Everything is controlled through a touch-screen menu that can be rather distracting. Some controls are tricky to use, including the all in one single stalk that controls the wipers and indicators.

Space & Practicality: There is plenty of space for five adults, the third row can be used by two adults. But the space is rather tight and would probably benefit more for small children. The GL can manage to do the passengers and their luggage trick, even though with the rear seats down. The boot is massive and much more usable.

(Photo provided by Devon M)
Equipment: LED daytime running lamps, rear view camera and sunroof comes standard on the base trim. You'll have to step up to the mid-range trim to add sporty lower bodystyling, xenon headlamps and keyless start. Considering how the starting price of the GL certain features such as Xenon headlamps and keyless start should be standard across the range.

Buying & Owning: The GL is not a cheap SUV to buy. There are keen rivals that are slightly cheaper to buy, but running costs will be just as high as the purchasing price. The diesel engine is slightly cheaper to buy and run than the eight cylinders. The AMG tuned version is wildly fast and the gas goes just as fast. Resale value should be strong considering how strong the GL sales have been.

Quality & reliability: The GL feels very well put together, the interior quality feels sturdy and long lasting. Many of the bits and componets feel borrowed from the M-class. In terms of reliabiliy, Mercdes has been improving slowly with their products.

Safety & Security: 10 airbags are standard across the range with plenty of electronic aids to help assist in traction and braking peformance. The electronic aids include a 360-degree parking camera, collison avoidance with towing stability assist. An engine immobilizer is standard with an theft alarm, however Mercedes rejects deadlocks due to the grounds that it hinders safety efforts in a crash.

The GL is an intimidating vehicle to drive due to its sheer size. Most SUVs that are simliar size also face the same problem. The GL however is much more posh and sophisticated to drive. It's agile and quite comfortable to drive on long journeys. The only problem is the high purchase price and running costs. Some items that should be standard across the range are only optional, and at this price point it makes no sense for them to be considered options. If you like the GL and really want the badge of a Mercedes we say go for it. Otherwise there are cheaper rivals that offer the key features you'd probably want standard for way less.

Devon's Pick: The 3-liter turbo-diesel makes the most sense. Not only is it the cheapest to buy, but it has the lowest running costs compared to the eight-cylinder engines. You still have plenty of torque for towing and enough luxury features to satisfy most buyers needs. 

Likes: Agile and comfortable to drive for such a large vehicle. Luxurious interior with room for seven. Standard diesel engine is all the engine you'll ever need.

Dislikes: Purchasing price is hefty, the eight-cylinder engines rack in higher running costs. Some options should be standard across the range at this price point.

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