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The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is the marque’s biggest vehicle, a full-size, seven-passenger sport-utility. Large and luxurious, the Mercedes GL is built in the United States alongside the M-Class mid-size SUV and the R-Class touring wagon. The GL is designed to appeal to Mercedes owners who want the off-road, seven-adult-passenger, and 7,500-pound towing capabilities of a full-size SUV along with the luxury and safety features they have in their other Mercedes vehicles.
The 2010 GL-Class has been lightly restyled with new bumpers, lighting front and rear, wheels and front skidplate. Cabins have been similarly updated for the 2010 model year while maintaining familiarity with Mercedes’ line and the GL in particular. The diesel model has been rebadged GL350 BlueTEC (from GL320 BlueTEC) though the engine remains a 3.0-liter. The 2010 GL350 and GL450 come standard with run-flat tires.
All GL models come with a seven-speed automatic and 4MATIC full-time all-wheel drive that distributes drive to both axles equally, and all employ air suspension for good ride comfort on a variety of surfaces and level attitude regardless of load. A full suite of safety equipment is standard across the board.
While their names sound similar, don’t confuse the GL-Class with the venerable G-Class or Gelandewagen meant for more severe off-highway travel. The GL shares nothing in common with the utilitarian G-Class beyond the 550’s engine and the automatic transmission. The GL-Class shares its basic platform with the ML-Class and R-Class.
The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is large and surprisingly capable off road yet feels reasonably car-like on the road. That car-like feeling comes in part because it is built around a unibody architecture instead of traditional body-on-frame construction (as the G-Class uses). Mercedes says a GL-plus-driver is strong enough to tow a 7500-pound trailer, but verify tongue weights and ratings before making decisions.
Primary competitors include the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 which both offer a diesel engine option, as well as the Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX56, Lexus GX460 and the Land Rover LR4. Especially for those interested in carrying adult-sized persons in the third row seat, the GL-Class offers a compelling argument of efficiency, space and features.