2013 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTec (Diesel) AWD: A High-Dollar, Fuel-Sipping, Luxurious Road Warrior

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Pros: We had an opportunity to review the brand’s fuel-sipping GL diesel, which goes by the name BlueTec. Now while the BlueTech only produces 240 horses, it seemed more than adequate for this fullsize luxury sports utility. Also being that this vehicle is a diesel, it’s actually the most economical vehicle in the GL line up. Usually diesels cost thousands more than gasoline models.

For those yearning for a gasoline model, the GL is available with three models, offering eight-cylinder engines: the GL 450, the GL 550 and the GL 63. And like what we would expect from any Mercedes-Benz, the GL offers a phenomenal ride experience with the brand’s signature Airmatic self-leveling air suspension. The GL soaks up the road.

In addition to the soothing ride we found in the GL, the luxury vehicle offered form-fitting patterned leather seats, too. In fact, the front seats included an optional personal masseuse, too. Well, the vehicle didn’t actually have a masseuse. However, the vehicle did contain different settings to not only heat and ventilate the seats, but a variety of massage settings. Yes, only in a Mercedes-Benz could such a posh feature be offered.

Moreover, the GL we reviewed was outfitted with a Lighting package, as if we were building a new home. The Lighting package consisted of a headlamp cleaning system, adaptive high-beam head lights, and bi-xenon headlamps with active curve illumination which turns with the direction of the steering wheel.

Our GL was also equipped with Mercedes’ Premium package, which added such features as a iPod/MP3 media interface, a Command system with a hard drive navigation system, satellite radio, auto dimming side (and rearview) mirrors, multi-color ambient lighting, heated 10-way power seats, a Harmon/Kardon surround system, a keyless entry system and a lockable rear storage compartment.`

Added to that, the GL we reviewed included an optional Active Parking Assist system, which is virtually an automatic parallel parking system. This is a must-have option for those who have difficulty in parallel parking, especially this large SUV.

Furthermore, our GL was accessorized with a Driver Assistance package, which included an electronic blind-spot lane changing system, an active lane-keep assist system and with a pre-safe braking system in case the GL begins to tailgate the vehicle it’s following.

Lastly, our GL included the following individual options: heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, power second-row release switch for easy exit/entry, illuminated running boards, a multi-screen rear seat entertainment system, and a premium-class Bang and Olufsen Sound System

Cons: Our test vehicle was outfitted with the brand’s optional wood and leather steering wheel. Unfortunately, adding the wood means one has to forego a heated steering wheel. Mercedes-Benz engineers should find a way to incorporate heat into the steering wheel, even if it’s for the leather components of the steering wheel.

Also the GL becomes quite pricey, when options are added-on. Ironically, our vehicle contained close to $40,000 in options.

Furthermore, the engineers should consider offering a non all-wheel drive model, which would help to bring down the price.

The Verdict: The redesigned GL is truly an all-purpose SUV. Not only does it adequately seat up to seven occupants, it can carry loads of cargo and tow, too. However, unlike most SUVs this one wears the Mercedes-Benz badge, so that means it is does everything we mention with a touch of class and style.  These traits are especially noticeable once occupants are seated inside the vehicle. Inside the cabin, everything seems to be hand-stitched from the seats to the door panels to the padding on the instrument panel. Our test vehicle also was surrounded by Burl Walnut Wood trim, too, giving us the feeling of being seated in someone living room, as opposed to the interior of a vehicle. Yes, the interior designers covered every detail.

With the close attention to detail, one should expect a healthy price tag, too. And Mercedes-Benz doesn’t disappoint.

Now while there are many other competitors in the large utility luxury segment to consider, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz is significantly improved from its predecessor, making it a standout in the luxury sports utility arena.

Competition: Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX, Land Rover Range Rover and Lexus GX 570


Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.

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