The Mercedes GL is a large vehicle. Very large. Large as in three rows, but you could imagine putting in a whole lot more people than the seven it is designed for. (You wouldn’t. They would probably be uncomfortable. But it seems that you could.)
When you sit behind the wheel of something that large (although I must confess that during the week I was driving the GL I had the opportunity to climb into the cab of a Mercedes Actros—and let me tell you that climbing into that cab was no easy feat—and that Class 8 cabin is big, consequently making the “large” of the GL something profoundly relative) you might think that it would be difficult to maneuver.
That is not the case. Not by a long shot. The vehicle for all of its size is highly maneuverable. You don’t feel as if you are in a big SUV. And the array of sensors that the vehicle that I drove—both sensors in the front and sensors in the rear—makes it such that you can put it into and out of parking spaces without concern. The steering helps immeasurably, too.
Another thing that you might think would be an issue with a vehicle the size of the GL would be noise. When’s the last time you were in a large vehicle and didn’t get the sense that you were in a truck, and I mean “truck” in the truckiest way? Those clever Mercedes engineers not only made the GL solid structurally, but did a masterful job in sealing it because it is quieter than many smaller vehicles that I’ve been in of late, and those vehicles are quieter by far than their predecessors, all of which is to say that the GL is a place that you could go if you wanted to get away from a bunch of noisy people. . .but then that might obviate the whole thing of having a means of transporting them.
And then there’s comfortable.
Yes, that, too.
While this is not necessarily a great analogy—or at least not one that Mercedes would likely want to be associated with—it sort of reminds me of a Best Buy store in Novi, Michigan. Best Buy stores tend to be filled with electronics. The GL is filled with electronics. But the store in question also houses a furniture store. That’s right: there is a non-Best Buy-branded furniture store housed within the Best Buy.
But in the case of the GL, this would be a higher end furniture store, because the leather seats are not the type of furniture that they’re likely to throw in a free mattress in with. This is some serious furniture in the GL.
The final element in all this is capable.
Presumably—because driving to places like Novi or the airport so I could go to Germany to get into an Actros (OK, I didn’t go to Germany just to get into the cab of a big rig)—didn’t involve me in any off-roading adventures. Which is a good thing.
But given all of its other attributes, I’m guessing that that would not have been a problem.
And just to be clear about what is huge fulsome praise for the GL found here, know this about the SUV: the vehicle as-Driven comes with that maneuverability, quietness, comfort, and capability at a price. And that price is one that you’ll be comfortable with or one that could cause such a violent eye-roll that your irises might be permanently pointing in the wrong direction: the base MSRP is $63,900. Add $905 for delivery. Then, to get to the as-Driven price, add ~$20,000 in goodies.
FYI: According to Autodata, 26,042 GLs were sold in 2012.
FYI: The GL is built at the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama. The engine and transmission are sourced from Germany.
Competitors: Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Cadillac Escalade ESV
Engine: 4.6-liter bi-turbo V8
Material: Aluminum block and heads
Horsepower: 362 @ 5,000 to 6,000 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1,500 to 4,000 rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed electronic with paddle shift
Wheelbase: 121.1 in.
Length: 201.6 in.
Width: 84.3 in.
Height: 72.8 in.
Curb weight: 5,401 lb.
EPA: 14/19/16 city/highway/combined mpg