By Tony West and Sommer Thornton
When I drove the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 last fall, I knew it was in a class by itself. Never had I drove a SUV that handled so well yet was light and luxurious inside. Motortrend Magazine agreed, naming the GL Class its coveted SUV of the Year Award. For the second time in five years, the GL has proven to be the best full size SUV among competitors in Porsche, Audi, and Lexus. The GL models for 2013 include the GL350 BlueTech turbo diesel, the GL450, the GL550, and the high performance GL63 AMG.
“The Mercedes-Benz GL truly outshone the field and emerged as the clear winner by the end of the program,” said Edward Loh, Editor of MotorTrend. The GL Class beat out strong competitors in 6 criteria; advancement in design, engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value, and performance. “None of the new 2013 SUV or Crossover models managed to meet all 6 criteria better than the GL”, Loh adds. The GL was put through a number of rigorous tests, but it scored especially well in off-road handling.
The longer taller wider 2013 GL is a beautiful SUV that can serve all needs while being comfortable and very high tech. Chrome accents on window trim and front and rear skid plate give the GL a rugged sexiness. The grille, layer taillights, and 21” AMG wheels give the exterior new swag. Inside the 2013 GL450, I was in heaven. It was my living room, a spa, and a multimedia show combined. The GL has heated seats, wood trim, a panorama sunroof, and Easy Entry folding second row seats. The twin turbo V8 engine comes in 3 choices, the base being a 3.L V6 with 240hp and 455lb ft torque. The full size SUV provides a smooth ride in adverse weather conditions because of the height adjustable Airmatic Suspension and 4-wheel independent suspension. With negligible weight and fuel efficiency trade offs, four wheel drive provides year-round traction and stability benefits on both wet and dry roads.
An enhanced 7-speed automatic transmission provides 17 city/ 21 highway mpgs, more responsive driving, quieter operation, and increased durability. The new transmission has an advanced torque converter lock-up clutch. Together with low-drag planetary gears, bearings, and internal seals, the low-viscosity Fe ATF fluid provides less friction thus better fuel economy. Lower hydraulic pressure and enhanced electronic software helps provide smoother shifting. The electric steering provides built-in speed dependent power assist and helps the GL go from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds.
I enjoyed the safety and luxury features integrated for an easy stress free ride. The GL is equipped with new features like the Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake Technology, Embrace2 telematics, and Crosswind Stabilization. The Attention Assist is a steering sensor that uses smart software to identify erratic steering corrections associated with drowsy driving and triggers an audible warning. Optional features include Active Curve System, On/Off road Package, Active Parking Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and 360 surround view camera.
Driving the GL450 was great but if I was a passenger, I could have taken advantage of the rear seat entertainment system that includes two 8 inch screens, wireless headphones, and integrated DVD player. The GL utilizes the Command System that features a 7 inch display screen, Sirius XM satellite radio, 6 disc CD/ DVD player and Bluetooth interface. Navigation can be set up for Sirius real-time traffic. I’m also a big fan of the Harman/ Kardon logic7 audio system. I was waiting on the GL to read my mind and blast some Coltrane, but maybe 2014.