Mercedes GL review

Our Rating: 
2012 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Mercedes GL blends incredible refinement and comfort with a hugely spacious interior

Extremely comfortable, spacious interior, refinement
Expensive to buy, poor fuel economy, enormous size

Sponsored Links

The Mercedes GL is large seven-seater SUV that sits above the M-Class in the German brand's line-up. The GL features a hugely spacious, upmarket cabin and a high price-tag to match. Although the model introduced in 2012 looked like facelift, it's actually an all-new model . However, the minimal changes reflect the fact that this car meets the needs of its customers - usually based in the US or Middle East - extremely well. And like its predecessor, it's built in America. The GL remains extremely comfortable, thanks to its air suspension and incredible refinement. The diesel 350 CDI is smooth and powerful enough, while the high-performance GL63 AMG model boasts performance that no car this big should be capable of.

Our choice: GL350 CDI 

Engines, performance and drive


Mercedes offers the GL with a choice of two engines – a 3.0-litre V6 diesel in the GL350 and a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 petrol in the GL63 AMG. The latter boasts incredible performance for such a large car, with a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds, despite the fact that this model weighs 2,580kg. The GL350 CDI is the sensible choice for its 35mpg fuel economy, yet it's still a refined and strong performer with a claimed 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds. Fitted with Mercedes' excellent Airmatic suspension as standard, the GL is not only refined, but has a very relaxing ride. Even more impressive for a vehicle that weighs nearly two-and-a-half-tonnes is the body control. It feels solid and stable, and the air suspension maintains great composure in corners. The steering is smooth and progressive but not exactly geared towards sports car handling, even on the AMG model. However, given its vast dimensions, the GL boasts remarkably neat and tidy handling.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


The diesel 350 CDI is definitely the one to go for if you're keeping an eye on running costs. But that's a relative statement, as the GL isn't going to be a cheap car to run. Even the diesel will result in you digging deep in your pockets, as claimed returns are 35.3mpg and it emits 209g/km of CO2. For the petrol-powered GL63 fuel economy worsens to 23mpg and CO2 emissions are 288g/km. And with a 100-litre fuel-tank, fill-ups will always be a very expensive affair. Bothe versions of the GL should hold onto around 40 percent of their new value afther three years, although that's not as good as the Land Rover Discovery, which will retain nearly 60 percent of its value.

Interior, design and technology


There's no escaping the sheer size of the GL. The 350 CDI measures 5,141mm long, 1,982mm wide and 1,850mm high - making it bigger than both the Range Rover and Audi Q7. The rather brash, blocky design is more in keeping with North American and Middle Eastern tastes, but it still looks quite classy. AMG Sport is the only trim level for the 350 CDI diesel, although this features LED daytime running lights, lashings of chrome and huge 21-inch alloy wheels. The high performance GL63 AMG is identified by its sports exhaust, upgraded brakes and discreet 'V8 BITURBO' badges on the front wings. The cabin design  feels upmarket and modern, although not quite on a par with the sleek S-Class. As you'd expect from Mercedes, build quality is excellent and top notch materials are used throughout.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The Mercedes GL is such a huge car (11cm longer than a Range Rover) that it boasts a really spacious cabin. It's a seven-seater as standard, but even with all those seats in place there's still a usable 300-litre boot. Both of the rearmost seats fold flat electrically, making increasing the load area a breeze. If you fold down the second row of seats there's a van-like 2,300-litre boot. The problem with having such a large car is that it is difficult to negotiate tight city streets, and there are very few UK parking spaces that are both long enough and wide enough to fit into. At least all versions of the GL come with parking sensors as standard, which help take the strain out of slotting the big Mercedes into tight spaces. 

Reliability and Safety


EuroNCAP hasn't tested the GL-Class but it comes with a whole host of safety systems and airbags that would most likely lead to it receiving a five-star rating. What's more, the GL is so big, it's likely to intimidate most other road users out of the way. Pre-Safe, ABS and ESP will all help keep you out of trouble while driver, passenger and side airbags will all minimise injuries in an accident. Reliability has been pretty solid since the GL was introduced in 2006 so buyers should have a pretty hassle free ownership experience. Better still, Mercedes dealers finished a respectable 12th out of 31 in our 2013 Driver Power satisfaction survey.

Disqus - noscript

Look at the facts: throughout the article the message comes out loud and clear that it is big, too big. Mentioning how it is 11 cm longer than the RR. Ok, lets look at how wide it is in comparison with the new "svelte" RR.... oops, it turns out that the RR is almost 14 cm wider than the Gl. I do not know about the roads or streets where you test but most of the problem comes from the width and not the length of the vehicle you are driving.Why is it that none of your articles about the RR whine about its size the way you did here? These rigs serve a purpose and the buyers in the market know it. It does not serve the reader well when a bias of this type creeps into your articles. Its big, comfortable and rides well...period. One more choice in the market. By the way I think the RR is a great SUV, also

Damn! You mustn't use facts to point out Brit journos' fellating of JLR's phallus!

To be exact, the R/R is 91mm wider than this written off as too wide for UK roads Merc GL, and also is taller, as the Merc has useful roof rails as standard - as in S Utility V - whereas the R/R has none, and its panoramic roof would probably collapse anyway with a load on it, as shown by all the shattering pano roof on the Evoque - hence no roof bars from JLR - all pose, no utlity.

You may be right. I used the figures from a local online car site, here in Switzerland. In the end the RR is wider than the GL.

The major reason I'd look at buying a Mercedes GL is that the rearmost two seats will fit a 6 foot adult in comfort. There is no other 7 seat vehicle, not even the Discovery or the Mercedes R Class with as much leg room and head room in the two rear seats. It's about the only vehicle that my teenage children will sit in the rear of on a long journey. This makes it the most practical 7 seat SUV on the market.

All pose no utility? OK, let's go off road and see if that's true.

Forget all this discussion about the width, these cars are all smaller than a standard Ford Transit and nobody complains that Transits are too big for UK roads.


It should receive 4 Stars at least, but since you are a Totally Biased magazine, go ahead and do what you know best, overrate british cars.This review won't harm GL's sales which eclipse those of RR's

Last updated: 9 Aug, 2013