The full-size SUV class can be an interesting group. Some are more truck-based vehicles that feature comfort and car-like handling. Being tricked-out with all of the possible amenities seems to be the focus for most makers; this all makes the GL-Class of Mercedes-Benz SUV unique. With understated styling, sturdy build quality, and loads of craftsmanship, these full-size SUVs tend to stand alone in a crowded vehicle class.
Body styles: full-size SUV
Engines: 3.0-liter V-6, 4.7-liter V-8
Transmissions: seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Models: GL320 Bluetec, GL450
For the 2009 Mercedes GL-Class, the previous GL320 CDI is replaced with the new diesel-powered GL320 Bluetec model. The Bluetec model is 50-state legal due to cleaner emissions. Highlights of the revisions to the GL's standard and optional equipment include an enhanced rear-seat entertainment system, hard-drive-based functionality for the navigation system, an updated COMAND interface with a 6.5-inch display, and a dedicated iPod connector.
The 2009 GL-Class SUVs come in three trim levels. The GL320 Bluetec and GL450 are identically equipped; the 320 comes standard with diesel power and 20-inch wheels, while the 450 boasts a V-8 and 19-inch wheels. Standard equipment for both models includes a sunroof and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Options for the GL450 and GL320 Bluetec include a Premium I package, which adds a power liftgate and auto-dimming mirrors. The premium II package adds a few extras. Heating and full-leather packages are available.
The GL550 includes most of the above equipment as standard and adds 21-inch wheels and unique exterior styling details. Stand-alone options include an adaptive damping system and a trailer hitch good for up to 7500 pounds when properly equipped.
The GL320 Bluetec and GL450 MB Tex have leatherette upholstery, a power 50/50-split folding third row seat, power adjustable heated front seats, power rear quarter windows, the COMAND multimedia interface, an eight-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer, Bluetooth, an SD card reader, and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Premium 1 and 2 packages add gear-like keyless ignition and entry, front-seat memory functions, a Harman Kardon surround-sound system with satellite radio and HD radio, parking sensors with a rearview camera, and a hard-drive-based navigation system with voice activation, real-time traffic, and Zagat restaurant reviews.
GL550 options include heated and ventilated front seats, an iPod/MP3 adapter, and a rear-seat entertainment system with eight-inch screens. This class has comfortable, spacious, and seriously feature laden interiors.
Performance & Handling
The GL320 Bluetec is powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 210 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. The GL450's power plant is a 4.7-liter V-8 that makes 335 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. The GL550 uses a 5.5-liter V-8 that churns out 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. All models are equipped with a seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The two V-8 models manage some of the best in class sprint times and the GL320 makes up for a lack of power with torque that gets it through most performance situations rather respectably.
Handling can be a bit of an unusual entity for full-size SUVs. Some buyers in this class may not like the floating luxury car ride of the GL-Class. Road and wind noise are minimal, adding to the luxury car feel. As for handling, the soft ride and slow steering aren’t great, but the GL-Class manages to be nimble and agile compared to its hulking competition.
With a 26.4-gallon tank, the range on this class is respectable to impressive depending on the model. The GL320 can go 449 miles in city conditions and 607 miles on the highway. The GL450 ranges from 343 miles to 475 miles. The GL550 ranges from 343 miles to 449 miles.
The GL-Class receives good marks for safety with standard equipment like: stability control, whiplash-reducing front headrests, anti-lock brakes, a driver-side knee airbag, first- and second-row side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags with an integrated rollover sensor. Hill start assist, hill descent control, and TeleAid are also standard equipment.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz GL320 Bluetec: 17/23 mpg city/highway
- Roomy and stylish cabin
- Exterior looks
- Off road capabilities
- V-8 models have good acceleration
- Build quality
- Many features
- Quiet interior
You Won't Like
- Features drive up price
- Some may dislike soft ride
- Can’t move the rear seat enough
- V-8 models lack fuel efficiency
A rewarding combination of comfort, performance, and handling.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Audi Q7 4.2
- Cadillac Escalade
- BMW X5
- Infiniti QX56
- Range Rover
- Lexus LX570