Large 4X4s have slowly lost their place to lighter car based crossovers that offer seven seats in a lighter more efficient package. But what if you want that large 4X4 with space for seven in a luxurious well crafted package? The Mercedes GL may tick all the buttons, but is it worth paying the premium for? Let's find out!
Performance: The GL offers four engines. Standard engine is a 3-liter turbo-diesel producing 240hp. A 4.6-liter bi-turbo producing 362hp and 429hp and a 5.5-liter AMG bi-turbo eight-cylinder producing 550hp. Pick of the range is standard turbo-diesel. Even though the price tag is still high, the diesel makes the most sense financially. The AMG tuned version offers jaw-dropping acceleration but makes absolutely no sense unless you have the deep pockets for running costs and just have to have all that power.
On the road: The GL is a large vehicle and there's no hiding that fact. But it doesn't feel as bulky as you would think to drive around town. Steering is overly light and feels vague at times. Ride comfort is one of the best redeeming features about the GL. Although handling takes the backseat. You can option for active roll-bars to improve that with no trade-off in ride comfort. All engines pull well and are extremely relaxed at highway speeds. We like the turbo-diesel and the pull from it's 455lb-ft torque. It's quite flexible but not as contagious as the AMG with it's contagious eight-cylinder sound track.
Behind the wheel: The single stalk for the indicators and wipers can be a bit confusing to operate. The column shifter takes a bit of getting used to as well. Other than these two complaints the interior is very luxurious and upscale. Something you'd expect from Mercedes. From the driver's seat everything feels well laid out and crafted. Visibility is good all round. The sheer size of the GL is intimidating.
Practicality: There's plenty of space in the middle row seat for three adults. The third row seat in the boot can be used by two adults but only for short journeys. The third row can be folded down electrically via a single button operation. This opens up a large boot with impressive space.
Equipment: Airmatic air suspension is standard as well as dual-zone climate control. 4-matic all-wheel-drive system and a sunroof. You'll have to step up to the GL550 to get body-kit, 21-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps keyless start system. Top of the range GL63 AMG offers stop/start technology, panorama glass roof, three-zone climate control and a 80G hard-drive nagivation system.
Buying & owning: The GL doesn't come cheap to buy nor run. If you stick with the turbo-diesel your fuel bill will be somewhat cheaper than any of the turbocharged eight-cylinders. Most GL buyers won't care too much about running costs and will stick with the turbocharged eight-cylinders. Resale value will be strong as with all Mercedes products thanks to high desirability.
Quality: Even though Mercedes has vastly improved in terms of quality and reliability. It's nothing to write home about. Mercedes still lags behind it's main rivals Audi and BMW. What is reassuring however is the cabin materials feel sturdy and well screwed together. It feels a tad bit higher quality than the M-class which a lot of its components are shared with.
Safety: The GL offers tons of electronic aids to help avoid a collision. 360-degree parking camera, collision avoidance, crosswind assist and driver fatigue monitoring system give the driver piece of mind when it comes to safety. If that's not enough there's 10 airbags standard and standard window airbags for all three rows.
Overall: The Mercedes GL is a large sport utility vehicle that can seat up to seven in a luxurious well crafted package. Those who want the badge but fear the running costs may want to consider the turbo-diesel which we think makes the most sense. All of the engines are up for the job but you'll need deep pockets for the eight-cylinder engines. The AMG is wicked fast and a bit pointless though. If you desire the Mercedes badge and want seven seats this is your best option.
Devon's choice: GL350 BlueTEC makes the most sense financially. It's the cheapest to buy and offers decent running cost compared to the 4.6. Unless you just want the extra oomph from the eight-cylinder we'd say stick with this version.
Likes: Fit and finish is superb. Actually has room for seven passengers. Comfort and refinement are top notch.
Dislikes: Expensive. Options can sky rocket the price. AMG is wicked fast and wicked expensive to buy and run.