New For 2014

The GL underwent a fairly significant redo for the 2013 model year, so changes for 2014 are only related to equipment packaging. One late addition to the 2013 model year was the GL63 AMG, which comes with a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8, 550 hp, and a 174-mph top speed.

Vehicle Summary

The GL-Class is the largest SUV in the Mercedes-Benz lineup and the lone three-row model. The third-row seat is standard and allows the GL to carry up to seven passengers. The GL comes standard with four-wheel drive and offers a choice of three gasoline V-8 engines or a V-6 diesel. The priorities here are space and comfort, not performance, although Mercedes recently added a rather incongruous AMG version.


With the departure of the R-Class, the GL is Mercedes’ only entry in the popular three-row SUV market. Luckily for Mercedes, it’s a good one. The GL is a cosseting conveyance, at least for those in the first two rows. There is now easier access to the rearmost seat, but it’s still best suited for kids. You might, however, want to have a talk with the little rugrats about not spilling juice boxes or dropping French fries if you’ve opted for the high-style Designo interior. Fold all the seats down and the GL can carry nearly 94 cubic feet of stuff.

The GL is mechanically related to the smaller M-Class and is built alongside it at Mercedes’ Alabama factory. An air suspension is standard and is tuned for a plush ride; optional active anti-roll bars quell body lean in corners, although even without them the GL is not bad in this regard. Four-wheel drive is standard, and there is an available off-road package that includes a two-speed transfer case with low range; it also enables the air suspension to be raised for higher ground clearance.

The GL’s engine choices include three smooth and powerful V-8s and one fairly economical diesel. The V-8s range from a 362-hp, 4.6-liter turbo (GL450) to a 429-hp version of the same engine (GL550) and a larger, 5.5-liter turbo V-8 with 550 hp (GL63 AMG). None, unfortunately, can eke out even 15 mpg in the city. Only the diesel gets decent fuel economy (19/26 mpg), but this smallish 3.0-liter V-6 relies heavily on its turbocharger, resulting in some lag during acceleration. Overall, the GL450 is our pick. All models, incidentally, are rated to tow a hefty 7500 pounds.

You’ll like:

  • Room for the whole gang
  • Silky powertrains
  • Tows up to 7500 pounds

You won’t like:

  • Large to maneuver
  • Big climb up to get in
  • Only the diesel gets decent fuel economy

Key Competitors

  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Land Rover Range Rover
  • Lexus LX570

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