After sparking controversy over the smoothness (or not) of its ride, then performing hero duty by towing copy editor Rusty Blackwell's new 1979 Triumph Dolomite from Scuderia Kitman, our Four Seasons Mercedes-Benz GL450 is settling into a second-quarter funk. This is the point where arguments about the good and bad points of a car or truck start to wind down, and we talk instead about what it's like to change radio stations, pair our phone, and drop off our kids during the daily commute. This time of year, we also typically wax poetic on how this big, luxury sport-utility vehicle transported everything we own and all of our dogs to that remote summer vacation cabin in the Upper Peninsula.
If only summertime livin' was that easy.
It began innocently enough, when Blackwell discovered that the third-row seat in our luxury SUV has lower LATCH anchors for his kids' seats.
"That's a rare boon to parents of young kids," he says, "especially outside of the minivan realm. Usually, there are only top tethers in the wayback for the last row, and parents skin their knuckles fishing the regular seatbelts through the tiny slots in the baby seats."
The problem is that the power-folding third-row seat has been operating much slower than it should. "When you attempt raising or lowering the seats, it sounds something like a roller coaster ascending the first big hill," our copy editor adds.
Blackwell dropped the GL at our local Mercedes dealer to fix the problem, and while he was there asked the service department to look at the front center console's powerpoint, which also wasn't working.
The dealer changed the oil as part of the regular maintenance, which included a full vehicle inspection. The total out-of-pocket cost was $238.55. The service department also replaced the fuse and adjusted the pins for the front powerpoint at no cost. As for the power-operated third-row seat, the dealer's service department diagnosed the problem as a motor with stripped gears and ordered parts.
However, almost as soon as we got the GL back, there was a new problem. The radio stopped working.
Jake Holmes was next to drive the GL, accompanied only by the hum of the 362-horsepower, 4.7L twin-turbocharged V-8. He also complained that the car had a cracked windshield and its interior was filled with towels, batteries, and sand-covered floor mats.
"And yet, when I picked up a friend last night, his first words, before even hello, were 'Wow, this is a nice car.' "
The new third-row motor is on order, as is a new windshield. When the parts come in, the service department will tackle the radio.