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2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Overview
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After 6 years, Mercedes-Benz's largest SUV finally gets a thorough makeover under the hood and inside the cabin. Aside from new daytime LEDs, a more prominent 2-bar grille and some stylistic tricks from the AMG playbook, the newly revealed members of the GL-Class look more like a gently stretched ML wagon; the real revelation promises to be in power and comfort.
Three new engines are introduced, one for each trim. There’s the GL350 BlueTec with a re-engineered 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 making 240 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque; the GL450 contains a 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged direct-injection V8 with 362 ponies and 406 lb-ft; the top-of-the-line GL550 also has the same 4.7, but tweaked to pump out 429 hp and 516 lb-ft. A 7-speed automatic transmission and AWD come standard. The BlueTec has proven to be a popular line, with 40 percent of GL buyers opting for it in 2011.
Both the 350 and the 450 are outfitted with 19-inch wheels, with 20-inch 10-spoke alloys optional; the 550 supersizes the tires to 21 inches and halves the spokes to 5. Airmatic, Mercedes’ automatically adjusting air suspension system, cushions the ride, and an optional On-and-Off-Road package adds the ability to raise ground clearance to 12 inches and offer 23.6 inches of wading capacity. Adding to the panorama is a standard sunroof on all levels of trim.
Inside, the wood paneling, center stack and dash are identical to that of the M-Class; while not a revelation, it’s certainly more luxurious than before. And it’s bigger than the previous model, with more passenger room (41.2 inches of headroom, 40.3 of legroom) and a third row easily flipped for cargo mode. All in all, the new GL-Class sports 93.8 cubic feet of cargo space, up 10.5 from last year. A powered rear liftgate is also standard, and all levels can tow up to 7,500 pounds when properly outfitted.
Like all Mercedes, the GL-Class is packed with the latest safety technology. Radar-based collision prevention, vehicle stabilization and automated parking are amongst the many high-tech goodies customers know and love. A new “Easy Entry” mode automatically collapses the second row, allowing better access to the rear seats. The GL is supposed to hold up to 7 passengers, but that third-row seating can be a little cozy.
Mercedes is attempting to position this new GL as a larger, more powerful M-Class and a formidable challenger to the Range Rover by swathing it in luxurious goodies and boosting its power. We shall see if the baby takes the candy.
by Stephen Moramarco
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