12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 - Confident Ship in a Winter Storm

January 30, 2014
2013 Mercedes Benz Gl450 Four Seasons 6 Front Three Quarter
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Long-Term 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Update - WINTER 2014 (1 OF 1)
Miles to Date: 28,100
"We found the GL450 to be the optimum conveyance for the 380-mile trek around the south shore of Lake Michigan."
We rolled into the Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee at about 8:30 p.m. on December 22 in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 in plenty of time to find some dinner, especially with twenty-four-hour Ma Fischer’s or George Webb’s as a backup. But we wanted to eat at our favorite pizza place, which is north of Bay View on the East Side, and it closes at 10:30 p.m. We had to check into our AirB2B rental and drop off the two dogs plus our luggage and a load of Christmas presents. And it was snowing.
Forty-five minutes later, it was up to how the four-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz GL450 with its Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snows tackled traffic and slick road surfaces as temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit. Quickly falling snow was accumulating on the ground. The tires grabbed the slippery pavement assuredly. The SUV turned when I turned the wheel, and the brakes brought it to a quick, reassuring stop. There’s enough steering feel to conspire with seat-of-the-pants feedback to give fair warning of how close the Merc might be to losing grip. As deputy editor Joe DeMatio has said of the GL450, it drives smaller than it is.
The only real obstacles were other cars and trucks, although at this hour in this weather on a Monday night, traffic was pretty light. Traveling on a combination of I-94 and surface streets, we made it to Lisa’s Pizza on North Oakland Avenue with time to spare. We were the last customers of the night.
And so the holidays came and went. Although we don’t have a traditional family -- no kids save for the collies -- and we don’t own a traditional family car, we found the Mercedes-Benz GL450 to be the optimum conveyance for the 380-mile trek around the south shore of Lake Michigan. With the second and third rows flipped down, my wife and I were able to bring along the two dogs, presents for each other and my family, and our luggage, using both the interior cargo space and a Yakima bag on the roof.
2013 Mercedes Benz Gl 450 Four Seasons 2 Profile
The Yakima bag was strapped to the longitudinal bars on the roof because, unlike our Four Season BMW X1 and Acura MDX, the chrome bars are not flush to the sheetmetal of the Benz’s top. You don’t need OEM crossbars to make this kind of bag work. Presumably, the bars on the BMW and Acura don’t produce as much wind noise and are perhaps more aerodynamic, but the Yakima bag, strapped down as tightly as possible with bungee cords, didn’t noticeably affect fuel efficiency. In fact, indicated average fuel mileage climbed a few tenths on the freeway from the 16.6 mpg displayed on the dash when we started out.
Over our short, four-day holiday/vacation, the Benz-Scorpion combo easily handled both slick and deep snow, including only partially plowed street parking in front of our B2B craftsman bungalow. Tire Rack says the Scorpion compound “is molded into a subtly asymmetric tread design that features a stable shoulder area to enhance dry road handling … while angled independent tread blocks with circumferential and lateral sipes help the tire bite into snow.”
Just before we left for Milwaukee, I slowly pulled the GL450 into a grocery store parking space, during which the head-toss that both senior editor Joe Lorio and New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman have complained about was more noticeable. On the freeways between metro Detroit and Milwaukee, however, the GL’s comfortable but not sloppy ride made for a pleasant trip, and both my wife and I made good use of the power lumbar support in both front seats. The winter tires add a marginal level of road noise over the stock Continental 4x4 Contacts.
The only regrets about the GL are that it isn’t a turbodiesel and that I didn’t find the heated steering wheel button earlier. Despite diesel-thickening temperatures, that engine option would have saved a couple of long, cold, $80 premium unleaded fill-ups along the way.
The heated steering wheel control is perhaps too logically placed. Don’t look for a button on the dash or on the steering wheel. It’s a tiny stalk parallel to the cruise control stalk on the steering column, closer to the dash. I hope Lorio and road test editor Chris Nelson found it in time for the Mercedes-Benz GL’s next winter adventure.
Base price (with dest.)$64,805
Price as tested$78,290
Body Style 4-door crossover
Accommodation 7-passenger
Construction Steel unibody
Engine 32-valve DOHC twin-turbocharged V-8
Displacement 4.7 liters (285 cu in)
Power 362 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque 406 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Drive Four-wheel
Fuel Economy 14/19/16 (city/hwy/combined)
Steering Electrically assisted
Turns lock-to-lock 2.9 turns
Turning circle 40.7 ft
Suspension, Front Control arms, coil springs
Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R Vented disc/disc
Wheels 19-inch aluminum alloy
Tires Continental 4x4 Contact
Tire Size 275/45R-19 111H
Headroom F/M/R 41.2/40.0/38.9 in
Legroom F/M/R 40.3/38.5/35.0 in
Shoulder Room F/M/R 58.5/58.3/50.5 in
Wheelbase 121.1 in
Track F/R 64.8/65.5 in
L x W x H 201.6 x 84.3 x 72.8 in
Passenger Capacity 143.6 cu ft
Cargo Capacity 16.0/49.4/93.8 cu ft
Weight 5401 lb
Weight dist. F/R TBD
Fuel Capacity 26.4 gal
Est. Range 425 miles
Fuel Grade 91 octane (premium unleaded)
Standard Equipment Height-adjustable air suspension 19-inch aluminum wheels Power sunroof Rain-sensing windshield wipers Rearview camera Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity CD/DVD player Power liftgate Heated front seats Automatic dual-zone climate control MB-Tex-trimmed interior Flat-folding second- and third-row seats 115V power outlet Roof rails Rear window wiper and washer Automatic headlights Collision prevention assist LED taillights and DRLs Mbrace2 w/trial subscription
Steel Grey paint $720
Black leather interior $1620
Panoramic sunroof $1090
Heated steering wheel $225
Trailer hitch $550
Blind spot monitoring system and lane-keeping assist $850
Parking assist package $1290 Front and rear parking assist Active parking assist Multi-view camera system
Lighting package $1290 Active xenon headlights Adaptive high-beam assist Headlight washers
Premium 2 package $5850 Auto-dimming, power-folding exterior mirrors Comand w/navigation MB Apps Voice control SiriusXM satellite radio w/6-month trial subscription Front seat memory Multi-color interior ambient lighting Front illuminated door sills Harman/Kardon surround sound audio system Keyless entry and ignition Soft-close doors Lockable rear storage compartment

Long-Term 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Reviews to Date:

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 - Confident Ship in a Winter Storm
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  • Even in winter, Milwaukee’s South Shore Yacht Club seems the perfect setting for the Mercedes GL.
  • The GL’s chassis transmits road conditions and level of grip to the driver.
  • Plenty of space for small families, like a couple with two collies and their luggage.
  • Fuel consumption was in the low 17 mpgs for the round trip between Metro Detroit and Milwaukee.
  • The luggage rack is not flush to the roof, so rooftop bags will attach without expensive accessory crossbars.
  • All-wheel-drive and winter Pirelli Scorpions got us to our pizza in time.

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