The 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class gets even more luxurious thanks to a new top-level trim, the GL550. Mercedes’ classiest high-end SUV, the seven-passenger GL-Class comes in three models: a base GL450, a high-performance GL550, and a diesel-powered GL320 CDI. All trims use a standard 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
In its second year of production, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class continues to combine a classy design and comfortable cabin with impressive power. The 4.6-liter V-8 powering the GL450 offers one of the zippiest accelerations in the luxury SUV class, while the GL550’s 382-hp, 5.5-liter V-8 provides nearly as much power as performance-oriented SUVs, like Land Rover’s supercharged Range Rover Sport. Between the high-powered engine and flashy details such as special 21-inch wheels, fender flares, and a fancier fascia, the GL550 doesn’t come cheap. Families looking for GL-Class luxuries at a lower price tag may fare better with the capable output and generous gas mileage of the V-6-powered turbodiesel GL320 CDI.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 4.7-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-8, 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6
Transmissions: seven-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz GL450, Mercedes-Benz GL550, Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class lineup gets a new leader, the GL550. The range-topping GL550 comes equipped with a 5.5-liter, V-8 engine that produces a robust 382 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. In addition to the larger power plant, the top-level trim adds flared fenders, larger wheels, and a distinctive front end.
For a high-end luxury SUV, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class features an understated but elegant design. With the exception of their engines, the base GL450 and diesel-powered GL320 CDI are identical. Standard exterior features on both models include 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, a roof rack, variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers, an intermittent rear window wiper, a rear defogger, a rear liftgate door with a fixed window, and cargo tie-downs.
A Premium I Package outfits the lower two trims with a sunroof, a power liftgate, and parking sensors, while a Premium II Package adds bi-xenon headlights and a number of interior updates. The GL550 provides all the equipment in the premium packages, plus 21-inch wheels, fender flares, and distinctive details such as a more pronounced grille. GL450 and GL320 CDI models can be upgraded with keyless ignition, while the GL450 model offers an Enhanced Off-Road Package that adds skid plates, center and rear locking differentials, and a two-speed transfer case with a low-range ratio.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class lives up to its luxurious reputation with quality materials, a fine fit and finish, and spacious seating for up to seven occupants. Standard interior features on the base GL450 include leatherette upholstery, wood interior trim, a wood- and alloy-trimmed tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, steering wheel transmission and audio controls, an alloy-trimmed shift knob, eight-way adjustable front seats with multiple heat settings, reclining rear seats, a split-folding rear seatback, a power-folding split-bench for the third row, power locks, one-touch power windows, heated power-adjustable mirrors with integrated turn signals, retained accessory power, cruise control, three 12-volt power outlets, interior air filtration, dual-zone climate control, a trip computer, an external temperature display, a COMAND multimedia interface, a TeleAid emergency communications system, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and MP3 playback.
The Premium I Package adds front-seat memory settings, a navigation system, a rear-view camera, a power-steering column, satellite radio, and a Harman Kardon Logic7 audio system. The Premium II Package comes with the Premium I’s features, plus three-zone climate control and rear air-conditioning. A Full-Leather Package adds leather upholstery, while a Heating Package provides heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The top-level GL550 comes standard with all the features in these packages.
Performance & Handling
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class offers two gasoline, V-8 engines and a diesel V-6, all paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The GL450 contains a 4.7-liter V-8 that makes 335 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque, while the GL550 gets its power from a 5.5-liter V-8 producing an even more potent 382 horses and 391 lb-ft. The GL320 CDI operates with a three-liter, turbodiesel V-6 offering 215 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. While the turbodiesel doesn’t provide quite the acceleration and speed of the V-8 models, it proves powerful enough for most on-road excursions. In addition, its surprisingly quiet V-6 boasts EPA ratings approximately five mpg higher than the other two trims.
With a unit-body build, hill start assist, and hill-descent control, the GL-Class comes well-equipped for travelling offroad. An Enhanced Off-Road Package, only available on the GL450, further enhances all-terrain prowess.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class comes standard with full-length side curtain airbags, dual front and rear side-mounted airbags, front whiplash-protection head restraints, anti-lock brakes with emergency braking assist, stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, and a post-collision safety system.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz GL450: 13/18 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz GL550: 13/17 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI: 18/24 mpg city/highway
- Classy design
- Elegant interior
- Quality build
- Quick acceleration
You Won't Like
- Lofty price
- Stationary second row
- Poor gas mileage
Classy and capable SUV.
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