A large SUV that blends luxury and practicality, the 2013 GL-Class fits somewhere between the midsize M-Class (with which it shares a platform) and the ridiculously expensive and uber-boxy G-Class. The big GL-Class competes with other large luxury SUVs such as the Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX, and Land Rover LR4.
The 2013 GL-Class is slightly longer and wider than the old model, and uses space more wisely to provide added head and shoulder room for passengers. The vehicle still keeps a square-ish shape, but is slightly more curvaceous, especially around the front and rear ends.
Under the hood, engines have been revised with direct injection. The non-diesel versions get twin turbos for even more efficiency. The 2013 GL-Class will be available in three trims.
The GL350 BlueTec diesel is powered by a V6 engine that makes 240 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque.
Twin-turbocharged V8s that run on gasoline come in two variants: The GL450 with 362 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, and the beastly GL550 with 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, with all that torque available from as low as 1500 rpm.
All GL-Class models will continue to use a 7-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The GL-Class might be big, but it isn't slothful; Mercedes-Benz estimates the GL450 can launch from 0-60 mph in only 5.5 seconds, and that's with a hefty 5500-pound curb weight.
Standard features on the 2013 GL350 and GL450 models will include a rearview camera, power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, leatherette upholstery, MB's Comand user interface, heated front power seats and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The Premium 1 Package adds 10-way power front seats, ambient interior lighting, a USB port and XM Satellite Radio. The Premium 2 Package includes keyless entry/ignition, soft-close doors and an upgraded Harman/Kardon surround sound system.
A new On- and Off-Road Package, available only on the GL450 and GL550, makes the GL even more off-road capable with a skidplate, a two-speed transfer case with reduction gearing, a longitudinal differential lock, and a revised air suspension system that provides up to 12 inches of ground clearance.
Safety features include antilock brakes, stability control and a new crosswind stabilization function. Options include electronic systems such as blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and the Pre-Safe Braking system, which automatically applies the brakes when the system calculates that a collision is imminent.
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class should arrive in dealerships in September 2012. MB reps are mum on pricing, but we expect it to start slightly higher than the outgoing model. That means the 2013 GL350 could start around $63,000. The GL450 to should come in at around $65,000, and the fully loaded GL550 could go for more than $85,000.