Reviews

2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Driving Impressions


From behind the wheel, a GL-Class doesn’t really feel like an SUV. That’s because it’s one of the most composed full-size models out there, helped by electric power steering and, if installed, optional active anti-roll bars. That option is costly, but can make a difference when the GL starts to lean into corners. Larger tires can jiggle the ride somewhat.

Though lacking in feedback, steering feel, at least on models with smaller wheels, doesn’t feel especially light. The variable-ratio setup responds differently at low speeds, though the transition isn’t as evident as in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.

Air springs are tuned for a cushioning ride, and the GL-Class is isolated from road vibration. Optional active dampers have Sport and Comfort modes, which can slightly soften the highway ride or tighten it up as needed. Either way, lateral pitching of passenger heads is limited.

Some turbo lag can occur in a BlueTec, because of the nature of the smooth, strong diesel engine, but fuel economy is EPA-rated at 18/26 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. That’s one reason the BlueTec is one of our favorites. The 4.7-liter V8 can be a tad coarser than the silken Mercedes-Benz V8s in some models.

Gasoline models, especially V8s, are thirsty. The twin-turbo V6 is EPA-rated at 17/21 mpg City/Highway, while the GL550’s bigger V8 is estimated at 13/18 mpg. Despite its additional power, the GL63 AMG isn’t much worse, EPA-rated at 13/15 mpg City/Highway.

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