2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Review


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2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Overview

For the well-heeled among us who desire a full-size sport ute with power, plush, panache, and even a bit of practicality, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class might be just the ticket. Sporting 5 doors, 7-passenger seating, 93.8 cubic feet of carrying capacity with the rear seatbacks folded, and adult-size third-row room, the GL-Class is also expected to offer little in the way of upgrades from the current edition.

There are some hints out of Deutschland, though, that a reworked version of the GL-Class, called the GLS, is on the drawing board. This new and improved version of the GL-Class is expected to offer improved mbrace2 infotainment, a noticeably restyled profile, a reworked dashboard and center stack, and a few tweaks to the current powerplants. Although some reviewers claim a late-2016 debut for the GLS, a dearth of reliable information about this upgraded GL-Class leads one to believe that the 2017 model year seems a more reasonable release date.

As of the present, however, look for the 2016 GL-Class trims to again include the entry-level GL350 BlueTEC and the GL450, along with the up-featured and up-powered GL550, and the track-tested GL63 AMG, which remains a product of M-B’s AMG racing division. And again for the upcoming year, all GL-Class iterations come with standard intelligent all-wheel drive (iAWD), thus each carries the winter- and terrain-taming 4Matic designation.

Power for the virtually unchanged GL350 BlueTEC remains a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that’s mated with the returning 7-speed shiftable automatic transmission. This oil-burner puts out 240 hp and a whopping 455 lb-ft of torque, with fuel efficiency slated to equal the current 19 mpg city/26 highway/22 combined.

Choosing to go with the 2016 GL450 when it adorns dealer showrooms in the late summer of 2015 will get you a gasoline-fired 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. Again managed by the ubiquitous 7-speed shiftable automatic, this peppy force-fed V6 throws down 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, to the tune of 17/21/17. And as with all the GL-Class non-diesel trims, this potent 6-cylinder is equipped with standard stop/start technology that shuts down the engine at a stop and restarts it when the gas pedal is pushed.

Stepping up to the 2016 GL550, look for a 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8 mill to return, along with the traditional 7-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Expect 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque from this V8-led drivetrain, with mileage slated to remain 13/18/15.

At the top of the powertrain heap, of course, is the race-inspired GL63 AMG, with its standard 550-hp 5.5-liter V8 engine and its sport-tuned 7-speed shiftable automatic. Scheduled to pound out 560 lb-ft of torque, this hog won’t pass up many gas pumps with its 13/17/14 mileage estimates.

Towing capacity, meantime, is maxed out at 7,500 pounds with the proper equipment, including an optional trailer hitch and wiring that remains a dealer-installed accessory.

Appearance and handling goodies adorning the various 2016 GL-Class trims include 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels, a self-leveling suspension, a power sunroof, roof rails, and a power-opening liftgate. Heated power-adjustable and power-folding mirrors adorn higher trims, while the GL63 AMG adds a standard sport-tuned suspension, beefed-up brakes, and adaptive stabilizer bars (M-B’s Active Curve System).

Inside, look for premium vinyl or leather upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats, and full power accessories, as well as cruise control and telescoping tilt-wheel steering. A rear-view camera is also standard in all GL-Class iterations, with higher trims adding standard front and rear parking sensors and a surround-view camera system. Dual-zone automatic climate control adorns lower echelon trims, with the GL550 and the GL63 AMG each boasting standard tri-zone climate control. And again, higher trims are slated to return with memory for driver's settings, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, heated second-row seats, heated and cooled cupholders, and massaging front seats. Furthermore, the flagship GL63 AMG is again expected to boast a sport steering wheel and a wealth of specifically upgraded cabin accents.

All trims are also anticipated to return toting Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment technology, as well as Bluetooth-interfaced mbrace2 hands-free communications and smartphone apps, with all of these integrated into a 7-inch touchscreen display. Additionally, look once again for higher trims to sport standard GPS navigation and upgraded infotainment features.

Entertainment in the lower-tier 2016 GL-Class variations includes an AM/FM stereo, HD Radio, satellite radio, a memory-card slot, and a CD/DVD player, with higher trims again scheduled to tote a standard 13-speaker Harman Kardon premium system boasting an iPod interface.

Options, meanwhile, include an On/Off-Road package with 6-mode terrain selector, 2-speed transfer case, and front skid plates, while rear-seat DVD entertainment is also slated to return as an option in all trims, along with power-sliding second-row seats and a Bang & Olufsen audio system featuring 14 Surround Sound speakers. Oh, and look for Larte Design’s Black Crystal package to return piling distinctively styled 22-inch alloy wheels, unique exterior adornments, 4 exhaust ports, and an upgraded grille design aboard your 2016 GL-Class.

Standard safety equipment expected to return aboard all 2016 GL-Class trims includes 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, 3-row head airbags, front fog/driving lights, turn-signal-integrated mirrors, pre- and post-collision safety systems, and mbrace2 emergency telematics. A remote anti-theft alarm, of course, is also expected to remain standard across the lineup. Higher trims, meantime, are slated to return with such standard or available added safety items as blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, active parking assistance, night-view assistance, and rear side-mounted airbags. Finally, the GL63 AMG is again scheduled to sport a standard Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise control and advanced driver warning systems. It should be noted, by the way, that no government or insurance-industry safety testing has been done on this jumbo luxury ute.

Although owners sometimes find the techno-bling a bit overwhelming in current GL-Class editions, virtually all of them laud this plush sport mule’s power, performance, posh, and quasi-practicality. Look for the 2016 GLS-Class to challenge such rivals as Lexus’ off-road-capable LX 570, Land Rover’s value-laden LR4, Infiniti’s macho-man QX80, and Cadillac’s legendary Escalade. Beware that a hefty MSRP can again be expected with each of these princely people-haulers, while various available add-ons will elevate prices to stratospheric levels.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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