Mercedes-Benz's seven-passenger GL-Class gets a hefty redesign for 2013 with all-new styling inside and out. It's not just a new face; interior room and standard features have increased, plus two new turbocharged V-8 engines and a re-engineered diesel V-6 are now under the hood.
With three rows of seats standard, the GL-Class competes with flagship SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, the Infiniti QX56 and the Lexus LX 570.
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All versions of the GL (GL350, GL450 and GL550) are longer, wider and taller than the outgoing luxury SUV, but the GL-Class retains the same hefty profile and upright tail. Mercedes says noise levels in the GL now match those of the $91,800 S-Class sedan, with a standard air suspension and available active stabilizer bars that fight body lean.
Nineteen-inch alloy wheels are standard. Twenties and 21s are optional, as are aluminum running boards. An optional off-road package includes skid plates, a two-stage transfer case, a locking center differential and air-suspension adjustments to render up to 12 inches of ground clearance. With the package, the GL-Class can ford nearly 2 feet of water, Mercedes says.
Mercedes says occupants in all three rows have more shoulder, elbow and headroom. The new cabin shares more similarities with Mercedes' recent sedans than the previous GL. Up front, a 4.5-inch screen sits between the main gauges while the main multimedia screen sits atop the dashboard. Mercedes' knob-based Comand system places a knob and shortcut keys on the center console rather than the dashboard.
Like before, the dash comes stitched in faux leather upholstery called MB-Tex. Real leather is available. The seven-passenger cabin includes a standard power-folding third row and optional power-tumbling second-row seats to access the third row. Fold all the seats and maximum cargo volume increases to 93.8 cubic feet, up 10.5 cubic feet from previous model years. That falls near the QX56 and beats the LX 570 by more than 10 cubic feet, but the Escalade still leads the group with nearly 110 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
The GL350, GL450 and GL550 engines have boosted output numbers for 2013 and what Mercedes calls a "substantial improvement" in fuel economy. The GL350's diesel V-6 has been tweaked for an additional 30 horsepower and 55 pounds-feet of torque over the 2012 engine.
The GL450 and GL550 now have twin-turbocharged V-8s under their hoods, with the GL450 making 362 hp — up 27 hp — and GL550 making 429 hp, up 47 hp. Indeed, at 6.2 seconds, the GL450 hits 60 mph a hair faster than the old, naturally aspirated GL550. Its turbocharged successor, meanwhile, takes just 5.5 seconds to hit the mark, Mercedes says.
A total of nine airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. So is a collision mitigation system, which tracks decreasing distances between the SUV and other cars as well as fixed objects. When a collision is detected, the system alerts drivers with audible and visual warnings and prepares brake assist to give maximum stopping effort. Also standard is an Attention Assist to alert sleepy drivers and Crosswind Stabilization to keep the GL composed in high winds.
Optional equipment includes a blind spot warning system, a lane departure warning system and a surround-view camera. Mercedes' optional PreSafe system augments collision mitigation with automatic braking.
Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG packs big power into a big SUV. To be exact, there's 550 horsepower from the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 that sends power through a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Like the regular GL-Class, there's room for seven occupants in three rows, though this GL63 can take passengers to a top speed of 174 mph.
Standard all-wheel drive splits 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels and 40 percent to the front in its default configuration to provide more sports-car-like handling, says Mercedes. The ML63 is loaded with standard features lsuch as an active suspension with multiple Comfort or Sport driving modes, panoramic sunroof, widened fenders that fit 12-inch wide tires on 21-inch wheels, plus 360-degree camera system and power tailgate. Back to top