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2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Sport Utility

4MATIC 4dr 4.6L

Starting at | Starting at 13 MPG City - 18 MPG Highway

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  • $55,900 original MSRP
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2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Sport Utility

Benefits of Driving a 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Sport Utility

The 2008 GL-Class is the large basketball-team-sized SUV in the Mercedes-Benz stable, making M-B a serious contender in the full-size luxury sport utility segment. The GL320 CDI has a state-of-the-art diesel engine. Besides offering enormous reserves of torque and making the GL320 CDI one of the only seven-passenger SUVs that can boast a highway fuel economy rating of 24 mpg, it is quiet, doesn't smell, and satisfies emissions requirements. The GL450 V8 is also a remarkable vehicle for family hauling adventures, with loads of luxury features and room, as well as 335 horsepower. But if even that's not enough, the GL550 kicks out 382 horses to drive its massive 21-inch aluminum wheels, and most of the goodies that are optional on the lesser GL-Class are standard on the GL550.

What's new for 2008?

New for 2008, the GL550 adds Mercedes-Benz' impressive 5.5L V8 engine to the GL-Class. These vehicles are built alongside--and share many parts with--the M and R-Classes. Due in part to its unibody construction, the GL-Class offers nearly the same agility as smaller SUVs, only it carries a gigantic 83.3 cubic feet of cargo space. All models feature automatic four-wheel-drive and a smooth seven-speed automatic transmission.

Model Strengths

  • As nimble as a much smaller vehicle
  • available with two powerful gas V8s or a modern diesel
  • luxurious, reliable, safe, and stylish.

Model Review

For 2007, Mercedes-Benz rounded out their family-oriented array by introducing the seven-seat GL-Class, and for 2008 the manufacturer adds the higher-performance GL550 to the lineup, with its 5.5L V8 and 21-inch wheels.

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2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Sport Utility

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2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

Source: New Car Test Drive

Overview

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL is the company's biggest SUV, a seven-passenger, full-size sport utility vehicle. For 2008, a GL550 with a larger engine joins the Mercedes-Benz GL320 diesel and Mercedes GL450 gasoline models.

Large and luxurious, the GL-Class full-size SUV is built in the United States alongside the M-Class mid-size SUV and the R-Class touring wagon. The GL is designed to appeal to Mercedes-Benz sedan owners who want the off-road, seven-passenger, and 7500-pound towing capabilities that come with a full-size SUV along with the luxury and safety features they have in their other Mercedes vehicles.

While their names sound similar, don't confuse the new GL-Class with the venerable G-Class or Gelandewagen. The GL shares nothing in common with the utilitarian G-Class. The GL-Class shares its basic platform with the ML-Class and R-Class.

The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is large and capable off road yet feels surprisingly car-like on the road. That car-like feeling comes in part because it is built around a unibody architecture instead of traditional body-on-frame construction. Mercedes says the GL is strong enough to tow a 30-foot boat, a trailer carrying three horses, or a large travel trailer, but verify tongue weights and ratings before making decisions. All GL-Class models come with a seven-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. All seat up to seven people.

Model Lineup

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class offers three models differentiated primarily by engines and features. The GL320 CDI uses a 3.0-liter turbo diesel, the GL450 comes with a 335-hp V8 engine, and the new GL550 uses a 382-hp 5.5-liter V8 found in $100,000 coupes.

All GL-Class offerings come with a seven-speed automatic transmission, the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, and the Airmatic air suspension system. It comes with seating for seven and with a third row that powers up or down at the touch of a button.

The GL320 CDI and GL450 models are similarly equipped, although not all options are available on both models. All models have a power driver's seat, heated power mirrors, heated windshield washer nozzles/lines/reservoir, reading lamps, burl walnut trim, and so forth.

Options include Distronic radar-controlled cruise control; a rear-seat entertainment system with two screens; Keyless Go, which allows the car to be started as long as the key is inside the vehicle and locked/unlocked with touching the key; Parktronic, which uses sonar to detect obstacles near the vehicle; a power rear tailgate; harman/kardon Logic 7 surround sound system; and DVD-based navigation.

The GL550 comes with full leather, Parktronic, rear-view camera, premium audio, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, infrared-reflective glass, heated steering wheel, heated front and middle-row seats, and Adaptive Damping Suspension.

Safety features that come standard include eight airbags, including side airbags for all four outboard first and second-row seating positions as well as side curtain airbags that protect occupants in all three rows. It comes with active front head restraints, LATCH tethers for child safety seats, and three-point safety belts for all seating positions; make sure everyone in the vehicle always wears those seat belts because they're your first line of defense in a crash. Active safety features (to help you avoid a crash) include an Electronic Stability Program, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist Plus, and four-wheel electronic traction control. Optional safety features include Parktronic and a rear-view camera, each of which can help alert the driver obstacles or people, including children, behind the vehicle. The last time we checked, the GL-Class did not come with child locks on the rear side doors.

Walkaround

The Mercedes GL-Class has similar styling cues to those of the M-Class (ML), but applies them to a larger package and adds some strong, more muscular touches. For example, both in front and at the rear, a metal skid plate (designed to protect underlying mechanical parts from damage when driving off pavement) is a prominent feature that underscores the GL's image of strength.

Unique to the GL550 is a deeper, more aggressive front-end treatment, including a larger three-pointed star that does not accommodate Distronic cruise control. It also features larger fender flares to cover the massive tires and dual-split exhaust outlets.

Seen in profile, the nicely raked windshield and bulging wheel arches over large wheels (18-inch and larger) help balance what is basically a tall and long vehicle. But even being tall and long, the GL doesn't look as bulky as, say, the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. And even with the squared-off rear edge of its D-pillar, the GL doesn't look as boxy as the Jeep Commander.

Viewed from the rear, the GL offers a formidable stance. It's tall and wide, with a large rear hatch opening and large tail lights, all sitting above a substantial skid plate bracketed on either side by large, rectangular exhaust pipes.

Compared to the ML, the GL is nearly a foot longer overall and an inch wider in track (the axle width including wheels), though it is less than half an inch wider overall and not quite an inch taller. Despite their similar styling, the Mercedes SUVs share only their front doors; otherwise, each has unique sheet metal.

As large as the GL may appear, it's two inches shorter than the R-Class touring wagon, which also has three rows of seating, though with room for only six occupants.

The GL is built using unibody construction rather than the body-on-frame design that full-size pickups and SUVs traditionally use. Mercedes notes that because of this architecture, the GL-Class is 300-600 pounds lighter than its full-size competitors. To make sure the GL class is strong enough, 60 percent of the vehicle structure is made from special high-strength steel.

Interior Features

While the Mercedes GL may look sleeker than its competitors, it was designed to offer class-leading interior room and ease of entry and exit.

Cargo space also benefits. With all seats in their upright position, there's still 14 cubic feet of storage between the third-row seatbacks and the closed rear hatch door. A power folding feature for the third row is standard equipment on the GL with controls near the rear hatch and next to the right-side second-row passenger's seat. Power down those third-row seats, and cargo capacity expands to 43.8 cubic feet. Fold down the 60/40-split second row seats and the GL provides as much as 83.3 cubic feet for cargo. There's also room under the cargo floor for a full-size spare tire.

The interior layout is familiar to Mercedes drivers, with either faux or real leather trim for the seats (Mercedes notes that not all luxury car buyers want real leather seating surfaces), wood trim and metal rings around gauges, air vents, and cup holders.

The second-row seats provide ample legroom. When occupied by only two people, the back of the center section can be folded down as an armrest and storage tray.

We climbed into the third row and found room for two adults to ride back there, each in a separate seat. The room is enhanced by foot wells for your feet so you don't sit with your knees at chest level, and even the third-row seats are thickly padded to provide comfort. Fears of claustrophobia back there evaporate quickly thanks to the sunroof that extends over the third row.

The GL can be equipped with a 440-watt, 11-speaker harman/kardon Logic 7 sound system, with Sirius Satellite Radio and with a DVD video entertainment system with screens mounted in the rear of both front-seat headrests and with a 6CD changer.

Driving Impressions

Driving the Mercedes GL-Class SUVs doesn't feel at all like driving the typical full-size sport utility vehicle. While this is a substantially sized vehicle, it is not truck-like. The Mercedes has a much more car-like dynamic.

The GL550 can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in six seconds or less. Its 382-hp V8 with four valves per cylinder, is part of a new family of V8 engines from Mercedes-Benz, all designed with a broad torque spectrum for hauling around 2.5 to 3.5 tons of truck.

The GL450 is more than adequate with its 335-hp V8 if towing or speed contests aren't on your agenda. Apart from the 21-inch wheels and more aggressive bodywork, a GL450 can be optioned to match a GL550 in features. Indeed, for poor road areas, severe winter climes that frequently require snow chains, or those inclined to use the low-range gear in the Off-Road package, the GL450 is the better choice.

The GL320 CDI delivers more than adequate thrust from its little V6 turbodiesel engine. In fact, it boasts more torque than the GL550's hefty V8, torque being that force that gets you going and powers you up hills. The GL320 offers slightly superior fuel economy to that of the GL550. If high-altitude driving is routine, it's worth noting the turbocharged diesel engine loses far less of its power than the normally aspirated gasoline engines as the air gets thinner. The diesel is flexible, providing maximum torque from 2800 rpm all the way up to 4800, and horsepower that pulls past 6,000 rpm. The seven-speed automatic transmission helps keep the GL-Class engines operating in the sweet part of a power band.

The four-wheel-drive system, called 4MATIC, features front, center and rear differentials. Quite sophisticated, 4MATIC is designed to maintain mobility even when only wheel has traction. In normal driving, the system distributes power equally to front and rear wheels. The system includes DSR, a sort of cruise control for regulating downhill speed, and Hill-Start Assist, which keeps the GL from rolling backward when launched after being stopped on uphill slope. 4MATIC also adjusts anti-lock brake controls to provide quicker stops on slippery and unpaved surfaces, an important benefit many vehicles with ABS do not offer.

Airmatic is an air suspension system that uses air bladders instead of coil springs to adjust ride height by as much as three inches as well as ride firmness and body control parameters, so the driver can select from comfort and more aggressively sporty settings. The system automatically lowers the vehicle to enhance handling and aerodynamic efficiency at speeds of 77 mph or higher. Adaptive Damping II, which provides electronic control and driver-selection of shock settings for the best combination of ride comfort and handling response, is standard on the 550, optional on the 450, and not available on the 320.

Those serious about venturing far from pavement can opt for a special off-road package on the GL320 and 450 that includes special wheels and tires, a two-speed transfer case, locking center and rear differentials, adaptive damping and with ground clearance height-adjustment options to allow as much as 12.4 inches of ground clearance compared to the standard highest clearance of about 10 inches.

We did our driving on freeways in and out of San Francisco's airport and on roads through Napa Valley wine country. Steering feedback was consistent, brakes (14-inches in diameter on the front wheels and 13 inches on the rear) were responsive and consistently predictable and the GL offered nice balanced dynamic capabilities when hustled through the curves on the narrow, hilly roads that wind through the vine-covered hillsides. The fat 21-inch tires contribute commendable grip, and like the majority of wide, low-profile tires, follow pavement grooves, give sharper impact sensations, and can not use tire chains.

Summary

The full-size Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUVs are larger than the mid-size M-Class. The GL provides more car-like dynamics than the traditional, full-size, body-on-frame SUVs from other automakers, yet can tow big trailers.

NewCarTestDrive.com contributor Larry Edsall filed this report from California's Napa Valley.

 

Copyright © 1994-2007 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Sport Utility

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std
Active Suspension System Opt
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Side Head Air Bag Std
Rear Body Side Air Bag Std
Rear Head side Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

HID Headlights Opt
Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Opt
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std
Rain Sensing Wipers Std

Accident Prevention

Rear Parking Aid Opt
Back-Up Camera Opt

Security

Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Opt
Telematics Std
Printable Version

2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Sport Utility

Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

The MBCPO Limited warranty provides vehicle coverage for 12 months and Unlimited vehicle miles and begins at the expiration of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 years / 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection Yes
Return/Exchange Program Yes. See dealer for details.
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible No

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Sport Utility

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