Reviews

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Walk Around

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class presents a mildly aggressive posture, with handsome flanks and tasteful character lines, and a sweeping glass greenhouse that allows very good visibility from most angles. The GL-Class reeks of luxury, and its designers have restrained the bling factor, presenting a fairly subdued architecture and a form that's a bit more curvaceous that the previous models.

From the rear, the GL-Class shows a bit of poundage but the mass is broken up by a pair of rectangular exhaust tips and LED taillights. Riding on a long wheelbase of 121.1 inches, the GL-Class avoids the slab-sided stance that often affects large SUVs. The high-profile, 20-inch wheels provide handsome comfort on rough tarmac.

Up front, the GL-Class wears the trademark vertical front fascia, with the two-bar grill dominated by an uber-sized chrome three-pointed star that is about as subtle as Michael Phelps.

Below is a mesh lower grill and skid plates. LED daytime running lights are tucked into the lower bumper and the projector-beam headlamps slice slightly into the fenders. The running boards are metal and there are some deft touches of chrome around the greenhouse.

Most of all, the GL-Class is big, so make sure there's enough room in the garage: The GL-Class stretches to 202 inches in overall length, nearly 17 feet.

Interior

Massive outside, the GL-Class models are surprisingly cosseting inside.

Serenity at all speeds helps the effect, as do the stunning optional marshmallow-colored bucket seats from Mercedes's designo line in one of the models we tested. Eye-catching stitching in contrasting colors decorates the length of the posh instrument panel. MB-Tex upholstery comes standard, and it looks and feels more like leather than vinyl; it's durable and easy to clean, according to Mercedes.

The upright view is excellent. Visibility out the rear hatch is dicey, though drivers can compensate with the outside mirrors.

Contrast that feel with the stats on cargo room: the GL-Class delivers 143.6 cubic feet of cabin volume, with up to 93.8 cubic feet of cargo area with both rear seat rows stowed. Both rear rows are powered, and can be folded by pushing a button. Nifty.

The second-row seats offer ample space, with ample foot and leg room and nicely padded seats.

The third-row seats are roomy enough for six-footers to fit neatly in the way back. When equipped with the panoramic sunroof, third-row passengers can enjoy open-air motoring with the rest of the cabin crew.

Bluetooth is standard on the 2013 GL-Class, and so are HD radio, a conventional sunroof, a power tailgate, and those power third-row seats. The higher trim level models add as standard iPod connectivity, satellite radio, a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels, and a navigation system. Many of those features can be had as extras on lesser trims.

The COMAND system is standard on the GL, utilizing a control wheel similar to BMW's iDrive, and information is displayed on a 7-inch LCD, small for this class of SUV.

The center stack is stacked indeed, with buttons. We momentarily confused the tiny graphics on a couple of them, and turned on the heated seat function when we wanted seat ventilation. Switchgear will be familiar to most Mercedes drivers; it's appropriate without being overly confusing.

Another screen, tucked between the speedometer and tachometer, lets the driver glance down to see important information (phone, navigation, entertainment), and it's clear and sharp. The four-spoke steering wheel with smooth wood trim adds some sex appeal, as do the cup holders, which can be selected to keep Big Gulps cold.

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