2009 Mercedes Benz GL550 4Matic

I have to admit, out of all the GL550's features, I found myself playing with the push-button ride-height control the most. After I pulled into my driveway, I summoned my neighbor from his house to show him how it raises and lowers the vehicle at a push of a button. For some reason, he didn't really care. I know this technology has been around for a while and is not necessarily groundbreaking, but it's still fun.

The GL550's gas mileage, on the other hand, is not so much fun. On my 63-mile commute, at times I could swear I could see the gas gauge needle slowly moving toward empty. Thankfully, the large 26.4-gallon fuel capacity allows a range of over 450 miles, which limits your trips to the gas station. The 21" five-spoke AMG wheels, which are standard on the GL550, really look sharp below the big GL body without hurting the ride quality much.

The 5.5L V-8 offers effortless acceleration (Mercedes says it will get to 60 mph in only 6.4 seconds), and the cabin is quiet and very comfortable for passengers in all three rows. If you have $84,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you won't be disappointed in the Mercedes-Benz GL550. Personally, I'd rather have the GL320 BlueTEC diesel that starts at about $25K less. Mercedes also offers another V-8 GL, the GL450, which has a 335-hp, 4.7-liter V-8 with 339 lb-ft of torque and a 0-to-60-mph rating of a still-impressive 6.9 seconds. Its EPA highway rating is marginally better, at 18 mpg rather than 17 mpg, although its city rating is the same, at 13 mpg. However, the GL450 is a lot cheaper, starting at $59,200 versus the GL550's $82,175.

Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator

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