Mercedes GL-Class SUV
Price £60,750 - £93,350
- Very spacious
- Upmarket interior
- Comfortable ride
- Very expensive
- Thirsty engines
- Tricky to park
At a glance
“The Mercedes GL-Class is a spacious and comfortable SUV, but with a very high price tag.”
The Mercedes GL-Class is a huge SUV with a luxury interior, big boot and seven seats. This new model hasn't changed much from the previous version, but put that down to the fact that it already did what it needed to do very well. It's mainly aimed at customers in the Middle East or the US, and for many of those buyers, money will likely be no object. However, for most of us, the GL is simply too expensive to buy and run – with the smaller Mercedes M-Class SUV offering bags of practicality and massively improved mpg. It's very comfortable and a great cruiser, especially with the 5.5-litre V8 engine in the GL63 AMG model, but we suggest going for the GL350 CDI for the best mix of performance and economy.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Don't expect good fuel economy from this gigantic SUV
The Mercedes GL-Class is a big, heavy SUV, so buyers will most likely not expect high fuel economy figures. The 350 CDI model is the most frugal, and even that one only gets 35.3mpg and emits 209g/km CO2, meaning the GL is not easy on the wallet at all. The GL63 model, which uses a petrol V8 engine, is particularly bad, getting just 23mpg and 288g/km emissions. Resale values won’t be as good as rivals like the Land Rover Discovery, either, with the GL-Class only retaining 40 per cent of its value after three years, compared to 60 per cent for the Land Rover.
Engines, drive & performance
Not bad for a huge SUV, but better in a straight line a twisty back road
The Mercedes GL is available with either a 3.0-litre diesel engine or a powerful 5.5-litre V8 petrol engine. Both are very strong, but the latter can go from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds – rivalling some sports cars for straight-line pace. The GL’s 2,580kg weight does mean it’s nowhere near a sports car in the corners, however. It’s main focus is on comfort, but it still feels solid and there’s not as much body roll as you might expect for such a big car. Even the AMG model, usually reserved for the most sporty cars in the range, is focused much more on straight-line speed rather than handling – though it’s actually quite decent in that respect.
Interior & comfort
Quiet, solid and relaxing to drive over long distances
The 350 CDI’s performance is adequate, but the most striking thing is that the engine is really quiet and easy to drive. Adding to the appeal is the air-suspension, which offers a cushioned ride, while tyre and wind noise is well isolated from the cabin. On motorways the GL is quiet, stable and very relaxing. The electric power-steering is light too, making the GL easy to drive around twisty corners or city streets – though it is a very big car and you’ll have to keep that in mind at all times. You sit up really high, with a commanding view down the GL’s long bonnet, so you definitely feel the size of the car on a day-to-day basis.
Practicality & boot space
The GL-Class is a gigantic car
The Mercedes GL is a very large car – it’s even longer than a Range Rover – and that means the interior space is huge as well. It’s a seven-seater, but unlike most cars that can carry so many passengers it also has a big 300-litre boot. The sixth and seventh seats fold away electrically, making the boot even bigger, but if you really need load space then the second row of seats fold down to boost the space to 2,300 litres. The running costs aren’t great, but at least you’ll only need to make one trip to the dump. The car’s size hinders it a bit in town, though, as parking such a big SUV can be tough. There are parking sensors as standard, but the problem will be finding a space big enough in the first place.
Reliability & safety
It's not been crash tested, but Mercedes has an impeccable safety record
The Mercedes GL-Class hasn’t been tested for crash safety yet, so there are no Euro NCAP scores to enlighten us on how it'll fair in the event of an accident. It does feature loads of safety equipment, however, including driver, passenger and side airbags, ABS and stability control – so it’s likely to get the full five star rating if Euro NCAP do test it in the future. The GL has always been a fairly reliable car, and the engines available have been tried and tested in many other cars in the Mercedes range, so it should be a dependable car to run, too. Mercedes finished 12th in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey manufacturer rankings, so the ownership experience should be good overall.
Price, value for money & options
Incredibly expensive to buy and run - even if standard equipment is good
The Mercedes GL is very expensive, and so are the options – appealing mostly appeal to Americans with a lot of money, which is why it’s built over there. It's very big, and a Land Rover Discovery or Volvo XC90 can seat seven just as well at a cheaper price, so we hesitate to recommend the GL to anyone. You could even look at a Range Rover Sport, which now comes with room for seven – although the rear seats are small in that car. If you do plump for a GL, be weary of the options list, as ticking too many boxes can send the list price soaring.