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by Jay Traugott
The ultimate in uber SUV luxury goodness.
Mercedes-Benz isn't one to hold back on the insanely obnoxious whenever they feel like doing it. And they do it often and extremely well. Everything from their AMG cars to the even more wild Black Series, Mercedes clearly knows who they are. And when it comes to something like their GL-Class SUV, it's important to combine performance, luxury, and just the right amount of obnoxious (but in a good way). The all-new 2013 GL-Class is not only the largest SUV the automaker builds, but it's also the most luxurious.
Capable of plenty of on-road comfort and solid off-road capabilities, the new GL-Class has grown in length by about an inch and is also taller and wider than the outgoing model, making more than enough room for up to seven passengers to have increased head, shoulder, and elbow room in the three rows of seating. The GL is offered in three different trim options, which include the GL350 BlueTec with 240hp and 455lb-ft of torque, an increase of 55hp and 55lb-ft over the last model. But what we really want is either the GL450 or GL550, each of which are powered by twin-turbo V8s, producing 362hp and 406lb-ft and 429hp and 516lb-ft, respectively.
Both V8 trims have increased power outputs by their predecessors as well. All three engines are equipped with extensive efficiency measures like direct-injection and are mated to Mercedes' new seven-speed automatic transmission. One innovation and highlight is the standard Crosswind Stabilization system, which assists the driver with targeted brake impulses in the event of strong crosswinds to deliver enhanced safety and vehicle control. And because it's German, there's literally an endless list of options that bumps the price tag well over the $85k mark.
The standard wheels are a set of 19-inch (20s are optional) twin five-spoke alloys, but the GL550 comes with 21-inch AMG twin-spokes with the appearance package. Stepping inside and you'll see how the dashboard design emphasizes the width of the interior. The instrument cluster features two clearly designed and easy-to-read dials and a large 4.5-inch color display between them. The top of the dash is further dominated by a large central color infotainment system. The bottom line is that this thing is not only massive in size, but it's also the uber luxury German SUV. Does it have good fuel economy?
Kind of, but Mercedes claims it's decent for an SUV its size (especially the BlueTec diesel). Is it really expensive? Undoubtedly (final pricing hasn't been released just yet). So some may wonder why something like the GL-Class is even necessary? The answer is because Mercedes-Benz can. And they do it very, very well.