TheCarConnection.com has driven the new Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and brings you an expert opinion here in this Bottom Line. TheCarConnection.com has also read reviews on the new Mercedes-Benz GL-Class to bring you the most useful observations and highlights.
The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class was introduced in 2007 as an upscale SUV with surprising off-road capabilities, a luxurious interior, fresh styling, and three-row seating--all for an equally remarkable price tag.
Joining the gasoline-powered GL450 and GL550 models for 2009 is the new GL320 featuring the German manufacturer's BlueTec clean-diesel engine. The BlueTec engine, in conjunction with the new AdBlue exhaust treatment system, meets emission standards in all 50 states. The BlueTec engine gets 20 to 30 percent better fuel economy than its gas-powered counterpart and with ample torque for tow capability that's actually better than that of the V-8s. The 2009 GL320 diesel can run upward of 600 miles on a tank, securely devouring interstate at impressive rates in virtually any weather.
The turbocharged 3.0-liter direct-injected diesel produces 210 horsepower, and the starter V-8 is a 4.7-liter, with 335 hp and 13/18 mpg fuel economy. Next up is the 382-hp, 5.5-liter V-8 in the GL550. It delivers a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 7.4 seconds and fuel economy of 13/17 mpg. A seven-speed automatic is standard across the board.
In terms of off-road gear, the GL has standard four-wheel drive, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, and a load-leveling suspension system. It can be ordered with an Off-Road package that includes a Class IV hitch, adaptive-damping suspension system, underbody skid plates, and locking differentials. Its maximum tow rating is 7,500 pounds. Handling is very well balanced in this full-size sport-utility vehicle. The air suspension is damped with ride comfort in mind, but the Mercedes-Benz GL still steers with precision and has strong brakes. A little less rocking motion side to side would improve on the good on- and off-road manners.
The tailored cabin has front-row seats with loads of foot and shoulder room. Adults will be comfortable in the second row--and even the third row, which folds itself out of sight at the touch of a button.
In regard to safety, the 2009 GL-Class provides as standard equipment active headrests designed to limit potential injuries from whiplash, first- and second row-side-impact and full-row curtain airbags, stability control, and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist. Pre-Safe, a safety system that senses collisions before they happen, is also now a standard feature on GL-Class models.
2009 GL-Class features include a power rear tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, multizone climate control, a DVD navigation system, a DVD rear-seat entertainment system, 19-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, and an upgraded surround-sound audio system. All three 2009 GL-Class models receive a new-for-2009 COMAND system featuring a large 6.5-inch display screen with a standard in-dash, six-disc CD/DVD changer and a Bluetooth interface.
The Bottom Line:
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is expensive, but it's very capable and family-friendly with lots of room, power, and safety equipment.