Mercedes GL-Class SUV
Price £61,655 - £94,735
- Very spacious
- Comfortable ride
- Upmarket interior
- Very expensive
- Thirsty engines
- Tricky to park
At a glance
"The Mercedes GL-Class is a spacious and comfortable SUV with a very high price tag."
The Mercedes GL-Class is a huge SUV with a luxury interior, big boot and seven seats. This model hasn't changed much from its predecessor, but that's mainly because it already did what it needed to do very well. It's mainly aimed at the Middle East and the US and for many buyers in those markets, 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 much better fuel economy. On the plus side, the GL is very comfortable and a great cruiser, especially with the 5.5-litre V8 engine in the GL63 AMG. However, 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 don't expect good fuel-economy figures. The GL 350 CDI model is the most frugal, yet even it only returns 35.3mpg and emits 209g/km CO2, so road tax is £290 a year. The GL63 AMG, which uses a petrol V8 engine, returns just 23mpg and emits 288g/km of CO2, putting it into the highest £505-a-year tax band.
Resale values won’t be as good as rivals like the Land Rover Discovery, either, with the GL-Class only retaining 40% of its new value after three years, compared to 60% for the Land Rover.
Engines, drive & performance
Not bad for a huge SUV, but it's better in a straight line than on 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. Both are very powerful, but the latter can go from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds – rivalling some sports cars for straight-line pace.
But the GL's 2,580kg weight means it's no sports car in the corners. Its main focus is comfort, but it still feels solid and there's not as much body lean as you might expect in such a big car. Even the AMG model is focused much more on straight-line speed than handling.
Interior & comfort
Quiet, solid and relaxing to drive over long distances
The GL350 CDI's performance is adequate, but the most striking thing is how quiet its engine is. Adding to the appeal is the air-suspension, which offers a cushioned ride, while tyre and wind noise are also 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 – although you have to keep in mind that it's a very big car. You sit up high, with a commanding view down the long bonnet, so you're definitely aware of the size of the car all the time.
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 – which means it's huge inside. It's a seven-seater, but unlike most cars that hold seven, it also has a big 300-litre boot. The third-row seats can fold away, making the boot even bigger, while the second row of seats can also be folded down to boost luggage space to 2,300 litres.
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, as parking such a big SUV can be tough. Parking sensors are standard, but the problem will be finding a space big enough for the GL-Class in the first place.
Reliability & safety
GL hasn't been crash-tested, but Mercedes has an impeccable safety record
The Mercedes GL-Class hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, so there's no independent verdict 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, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control.
The GL has always been a fairly reliable car and its engines have been tried and tested in many other cars in the Mercedes range. Mercedes finished 12th in our Driver Power 2013 customer satisfaction survey's manufacturer ranking, 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 its options. It's very unwieldy and a Land Rover Discovery or Volvo XC90 will seat seven for much less, so we hesitate to recommend the GL. You could even look at the Range Rover Sport, although its third-row seats are quite small. If you do plump for a GL, be wary of the options list, as ticking too many boxes can send the list price soaring.