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.
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