2013 Mercedes GL350 BlueTec 4MATIC | hkcarworld.com

1 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2013 Mercedes GL350 BlueTec 4MATIC | hkcarworld.com
Mercedes GL 350

2013 Mercedes GL350 BlueTec 4MATIC

October 5, 2012 – If the immediate success of the first ML-class in the late ’90s weren’t enough to justify Mercedes’ decision to start selling SUVs, the introduction of the larger, three-row GL-class for 2007 would have done the trick. Combining most of the practicality of a Chevy Suburban with the refinement of a Range Rover, the GL quickly racked up two consecutive C/D 5Best Trucks awards, a comparison-test win, and underwent a 40,000-mile long-term test, quickly becoming one of our favorite luxury workhorses.

The second-gen GL arrives for 2013 with a nip here and a tuck there, as well as a host of equipment updates that keep it Mercedes’ most capable and opulent family hauler. Despite its Alabama roots—like all Merc SUVs, it’s assembled in Tuscaloosa—the big German retains its ancestral accent, especially when outfitted with the 3.0-liter V-6 turbo-diesel found in our GL350 test vehicle.

East Bound and Down

Whereas gas-powered GLs now feature twin-turbo V-8s with up to 550 hp, the 2013 BlueTec’s diesel V-6 makes do with a modest 240 (30 more than before). More important, the new model gains 55 lb-ft of torque, now boasting 455 at 1600 rpm. We’re glad the extra twist is on hand, as weight has increased to 5835 pounds, about 120 more than before. So the engine is stout, but it takes a moment to dip into its reserves at low speeds, with slight lag evident.

Once the single turbo is spooled, though, the mountain of torque affords ample passing power on highways and is well suited to the GL’s bulk. Diesel clatter is practically nonexistent to occupants, who hear only a pleasantly gruff rumble. Towing capacity is a useful 7500 pounds with the optional $550 trailer hitch, which our test vehicle had.

At the test track, the GL350 hit 60 mph in 7.5 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 15.8. Those represent improvements of 1.1 and 0.9 seconds over the previous model.

Reassuring brakes and a firm pedal brought the truck to a halt from 70 mph in 175 feet. Fuel-economy estimates have notably increased from 17 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway to 19/26; we averaged a respectable 22 mpg. That last number translates to nearly 600 miles of range with the GL’s 26.4-gallon tank.

For 2013, all GL models keep their seven-speed automatics and standard all-wheel-drive systems, although a two-speed transfer case and adjustable drivetrain and chassis controls now are available as part of a new off-road package.

As we’ve noted from previous drives, the 19-inch wheels on our example offer better ride quality than the fancier 20- or 21-inch upgrades. The only difference we discerned between the Sport and Comfort modes of the adaptive dampers was slightly improved body control in the firmer setting. On the skidpad, the GL350 maxed out at a tire-howling 0.75 g, with a numb and very light helm working a new electric power-steering system. Mercedes claims the new rack makes a small contribution toward the improved fuel economy, and we found its ease and accuracy a boon for tight, accurate maneuvering if not driver satisfaction

The 2013 GL’s revised look is tougher and chunkier than before. It’s not creased and glitzy like a Cadillac Escalade or seemingly sculpted from billet like a Range Rover, but it does impart an elegant machismo. The cabin carries many of the same style seen in the smaller ML-class, but the details are larger and our Lunar Blue GL350 was made even more posh with an explosion of Designo Porcelain leather.

Thus equipped, the seven-passenger GL can serve as a heavy-duty alternative to the S-class.

Mercedes GL 350

The GL’s raison d’être, though, is its extended cargo area and third row of chairs—OK, so profit margin is involved, too—although adults can suffer the rearmost seats only for short trips. The large rear doors swing wide and the clever folding second-row arrangement opens up a sizable entryway to the very back, and our truck’s $400 one-touch, power-folding mechanism made the affair even easier.

Luggage space is limited to 16 cubic feet behind the third row, but expands to 49 cubes behind the second row and 94 with all rear chairs pronated. An optional rear-seat entertainment package with dual DVD monitors is available to keep rear riders quiet.

Paying the Tab

At its price tag, the GL350 BlueTec sits at the bottom of the range’s totem pole yet still packs an extensive list of standard luxuries, including heated and cooled front cup holders, dual-zone climate control, the COMAND infotainment setup, a cocoon of airbags, and a plethora of electronic overlords intended to keep you awake and the GL right side up and/or undented.

Hitting the options sheet with any zeal can add up. Along with the leather interior, rear entertainment, trailer hitch, power-folding seats, and adjustable dampers, the GL350 here shown also included the Premium 1 package (navigation, iPod connectivity, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, ambient lighting, 10-way adjustable power front seats), the Active Curve System (essentially anti-roll bars that automatically stiffen in curves), and the Driver Assistance package (adaptive cruise control and blind-spot and lane-keeping assists).

It also was fitted with three-zone climate control, the Lighting package (adaptive bi-xenon headlights and high beams), a Parking Assistance system, multi-contour front seats with massage, and a panoramic moonroof. And we’re leaving off another half-dozen or so lesser items.

The diesel GL’s competitive set includes the gas-fired Range Rover, Escalade, and Lexus LX570, and all are noticeably quicker than the BlueTec in a straight line. The GL350 offers much more range, and flies more under the radar than do the Caddy and Range Rover, making it a good choice for those who choose to display their wealth with a bit more discretion. The GL350’s most direct diesel competitor is the cheaper Audi Q7 TDI, also a C/D long-term alum and among our favorite big SUVs.

Of the 2013 GL lineup, our wilder side is fascinated by the 550-horse GL63 AMG, but the efficiency of the BlueTec is mighty appealing. GL-class buyers clearly agree: 39 percent of previous-gen models sold in 2011 were fueled by diesel.

Mercedes GL 350
Mercedes GL 350
Mercedes GL 350
Mercedes GL 350
Mercedes GL 350
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