GL450 drives large style; innovation

2013-05-18T12:11:00Z GL450 drives large style; innovationJim Jackson Times Auto Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 18, 2013 12:11 pm  • 

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is all about wearing a tuxedo with a backpack.

While today’s “smaller is better” car market seems fashionably incorrect, there is still a need for the ways-and-means of a large sport utility vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz shoulders the full-size GL-Class in their portfolio for buyers who need more, rather than less, from an SUV.

The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class comes with seven-passenger seating in GL350 BlueTEC, GL450 and GL550 models with permanent 4MATIC all-wheel drive standard.

“Most of our GL clientele are affluent middle-age buyers with families,” says Jim Wolff, general sales manager for Napleton Auto Werks in Schererville. “A large sport utility simply fits their lifestyle.”

According to Wolff, full-size SUVs are making a comeback with the arrival of improved fuel economy.

Mercedes’ GL350 BlueTEC comes with a 3.0-liter, V6 turbo-diesel engine that builds 240 horsepower for fuel economy of 19 miles per gallon/city and 26 mpg/highway.

The GL450 and GL550 models are powered by twin-turbo 4.6-liter, V8 gasoline engines that generate 362 hp and 429 hp respectively.

Fuel economy of 14 mpg/city and 19 mpg/hwy is typical of the GL450 while the GL550 yields 13 mpg/city and 18 mpg/hwy.

Each engine is managed by a seven-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for more driver-directed control.

I recent tested the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 4MATIC and drove away impressed with its ride and ease of driveability.

A Mercedes’ Steering Control Assistance system and Electronic Stability Program with new standard Crosswind Assist feature automatically reduces the effect of crosswinds during brief strong gusts that flush across the pavement.

An Airmatic suspension with automatic load recognition and self-leveling keeps the GL450 in perfect posture regardless of its passenger or cargo load.

Towing is effortless with a capacity that reaches 7,500 pounds.

A new Surround View Camera with large center stack display provides a 360-degree bird’s-eye view around the GL for easier maneuverability in and out of parking spaces.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 also can park itself with an available Active Parking Assist and Parktronic system ($1,290) that glides the 17-foot SUV into a parallel parking spot with perfect precision and little driver input.

Standard Collision Prevention Assist provides visual and audible warnings if the distance from a forward vehicle is too close for a responsible margin of safety.

Inside, generous cabin space abounds with greater hip, shoulder and headroom than GL’s previous generation with adult-size knee, foot and legroom in the third row.

An Easy-Entry system tumbles the outboard middle seats forward for easy access to the rear quarters. When unoccupied, the back seats can be folded up or down with standard electronic operation for flexible load capacity.

My test vehicle came with designo Auburn Brown upholstery ($4,800) with uniquely designed leather seats and select interior appointments. Black leather is standard.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC starts at $62,400 followed closely by the GL450 for $63,900. The GL550 ups the ante to $86,900. Add $905 for freight.

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