The Automobile Magazine test fleet has been blessed with a variety of diesel vehicles lately. From the mighty Ram 2500 with a Cummins down to a mere Jetta TDI wagon, we've sampled the vast majority of vehicles currently on sale in the U.S. with diesel engines since January. Although the GL is at the top of the list in terms of price, it comes in mid-pack in terms of the overall experience.
The GL350 Bluetec may not be the leader in power, torque, or fuel economy, but Mercedes has done a fabulous job integrating the diesel powertrain. From the cabin, the engine is as smooth and quiet as a refined gasoline powerplant, and the seven-speed automatic makes light work of masking shifts. I'll concede that the Mercedes isn't my top choice of the three German SUVs, but it's still a great truck.
The technology progression of the diesel engine is astounding. Seems like just a few years ago they were noisy, stinky, expensive things that were found in mostly full-size pickup trucks. Now diesels are finding their way into mainstream SUVs and small passenger cars, and rightfully so, they're becoming quiet, economical, and efficient.
Does anyone else have problems keeping all the Mercedes-Benz SUVs and crossovers straight? You have the little-guy GLK at the low end, the big-guy G-class (aka: Ezra Dyer's Geländeplowagen
) at the high end, and then three
medium-guys - the R-class, the M-class, and this GL-class, which, save for its larger dimensions, looks exactly like the GLK
The GL also seems to get a bit lost between its German competitors, lacking the sportiness (and the sales volume) of the BMW X5 and the style of the Audi Q7
The GL350's diesel engine is so quiet and the SUV's cabin so well-insulated that, from behind the steering wheel, I soon forgot that I was driving a diesel-powered vehicle. But a quick look at my wintry commute's mileage of 21 mpg quickly reminded me that no gasoline-fueled, three-row, superluxurious big truck would be so frugal. According to the EPA, owners of diesel GLs will average 19 mpg overall (17 city/23 highway), which is still impressive for such a big, versatile, and capable vehicle. That it costs $1000 less than the GL450 is icing on the cake.
I saw several other GLs roaming the streets of Metro Detroit this past weekend, but not a single one-other than the example I was driving-was diesel-powered. That's a shame. I think this is the most logical GL model to purchase, and possibly one of the best long-distance family haulers in quite some time.
I was in possession of the GL BlueTec on the day of this season's biggest snowstorm. I live on a cul-de-sac that gets almost no traffic, so I had to blaze a trail through eight inches of virgin snow on my way to work. It was no problem in this all-wheel-drive SUV. Not so fortunate was my neighbor, a German engineer who happens to work at the Mercedes-Benz Tech Center in Ann Arbor. I often see a variety of Mercedes vehicles parked in his driveway, but on this snowy day he was spinning his rear wheels in a C-class (equipped with snow tires, by the way). We had a good laugh as I rolled down the window and gloated about the fact that I had the proper Mercedes for the job that day.
2010 Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec