Buying Guide

2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

Fair Market Price $28,772 GL350 BlueTEC

EPA MPG:

17 City / 21 Hwy

Cargo (Std/Max):

NA / 83.3 cu. ft.

Seating:

7/7

A plush, seven-seat SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GL is as luxurious as any vehicle in its class. In many ways, this massive SUV is as nice inside as Mercedes-Benz’s flagship, the S-class. The top-trim GL550 has standard keyless start, twenty-one-inch wheels, an AMG body kit, and a massive three-pointed star on the grille. The options list includes tech-savvy and creature-comfort items such as a rear-seat DVD system, heated rear seats, radar cruise control, and an off-road package. All GL models ride on an air suspension that is smooth without being floaty. There are three engines: two V-8s and a diesel V-6 that produces more torque than either of the gasoline engines with significantly better fuel economy. Both V-8s offer impressive power, but elsewhere in the Mercedes-Benz lineup they are being replaced with more powerful and more efficient engines. In a year or two, the GL-class will certainly be packing these new powertrains. Regardless, the turbo-diesel would be our first choice were we to buy a GL. Paired with the smart seven-speed automatic transmission, it is responsive and punchy, and from inside the isolated cabin it feels as civilized as a V-8. However, BMW’s X5 xDrive35d and Audi’s Q7 TDI are more affordable, torquier, and less thirsty. The GL’s advantages over those two are its larger cabin and butch looks, if that’s your thing.

Drive: 4-wheel

Trim levels: GL350 BlueTec, GL450, GL550

Body style: SUV, 7-passenger

Engines: 3.0L turbo-diesel V-6, 210 hp, 400 lb-ft

4.7L V-8, 335 hp, 339 lb-ft

5.5L V-8, 382 hp, 391 lb-ft

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Passenger volume: 143.4 cu ft

Capacities: Towing 7500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 14.3/43.8/83.3 cu ft

The relatively new GL-class receives minor updates for 2012, having received a face-lift last year. The rearview camera gets guidance lines, LED daytime running lights are now standard for all models, and there have been small changes made to the interior.

ABS; dual-stage front, front and second-row side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; a tire-pressure monitoring system; and traction and stability control are standard. Blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera, and swiveling headlights are optional.

All: 12-17 mpg city/17-21 mpg highway

  • Cavernous interior
  • Sumptuous cabin
  • Poised ride
  • Coupe has humble roots
  • Mediocre fuel economy
  • Limited cargo room behind third row

The plus-size SUV.

  • Audi Q7
  • BMW X5
  • Infiniti QX56
  • Lexus LX570

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