SUVs are an uniquely American creation, like apple pie and baseball. Nowadays there are crossovers, SAVs and a whole laundry list of vehicles that have come about thanks to the original SUV concept. Long past is the time when a Jeep was the only go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle solely designed to handle the rigors of large rocks, rivers and mud. With the passing decades SUVs have progressively become larger, heavier and more powerful, all the while moving away from the off-road trails for a more leisurely life of grocery-getting and trips to-and-from school to pick up the kids.
Even though the price of a gallon of regular unleaded is nearly $4 dollars per gallon they continue to be popular with families and those who want to drive a large vehicle with room for seven passengers, the dog and everything else one might wish to carry. When you add in all of the leather-appointed interiors, DVD players and safety prevention technologies today’s SUVs are more akin to oversized luxury cruisers than simple all-terrain vehicles.
Enter the all-new 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-class. The pinnacle of the manufacturer’s line of SUVs, the GL-class is designed for those who wanted to be large and in charge when driving down the road. Everything about the new GL is huge, from its engine to its sheer breadth.
The 2013 GL-class is available in three model designations, the GL-350 BlueTec clean diesel, GL450 and GL550. The GL-350 comes equipped with a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine producing a maximum of 240 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque. Next up on the list is the GL450 with its 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 gasoline-powered engine producing a peak output of 362 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The last and final variant of the 2013 GL-class is the GL550. Although the engine is the same the power has been boosted be an additional 67 hp to 429 and torque is also higher at 516 lb-ft.
The redesigned 2013 GL-class has rounder and less aggressive styling than its predecessor. The headlights and taillights have been extended to stretch across the corner of the vehicle. Even the exhaust tips have changed from a edgy trapezoidal shape to a rounded rectangular one. From the side the rear section resembles the Infiniti QX56, although not to such an extent as the strangely designed Infiniti. Along with the rear stlying the new GL-class shares many similar dimensional characteristics as its competition. The wheelbase of both vehicle is identical at 121 inches. The GL measures in at 201.6″ long, 84.3″ wide and 72.8″ high, compared to the QX56 at 208.3″, 79.9″ and 75.8″ respectively.
Helping the driver safely operate and maneuver such a large SUV are a nearly endless list of standard and optional safety features. The top-tier GL550 comes equipped with such things as Parktronic with Active Parking Assist, Bi-xenon headlamps with Active Curve Illumination and Corner Illuminating Lamps as standard. If that wasn’t enough you can opt for four addtional assistance system that monitor everything from the vehicles blind spots to the highbeams.
As with the previous GL-class the interior is draped in copious amount of leather, fine wood veneers and brushed aluminum trim. Not to mention the available TV screens in the rear headrests to keep the kids entertained during those long drives to the beach or to the in-laws for Sunday dinner.
When it comes down to it the Mercedes GL-class is a statement vehicle suited for those who want the ability to go off-road, but will rarely if ever do it. And that’s not unexpected especially when considering the GL’s hefty price tag. No official pricing has been announced, but judging by the 2012 model its safe to say the GL350 BlueTec and GL450 have a base MSRP in the low-to-mid $60,000 range while the more powerful GL550 will command closer to $90,000. That’s a lot of money. For that price of a fully loaded GL550 you could buy any SUV in the BMW, Audi or Porsche lineup, with the exception of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The GL-class is a well designed and engineered vehicle but is ultimately not worth the expense when compared to its competition.
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