Fresh off a win in our 2007 SUOTY competition, the all-new Mercedes-Benz GL450 is the newest addition to our long-term test fleet. Already a major player in every other vehicle segment, it was only a question of time before M-B decided to get into the full-size luxury sport/utility market.
At just over 200 inches long, the GL is the largest vehicle in the Mercedes stable. But those extra inches make the third-row seat actually useable by occupants over six feet tall, a stretch for many other vehicles in this class. Surprisingly, though, the GL doesn't feel that big; as many editors observed, "It drives small."
Options are abundant for this vehicle, and we got most of them, starting with a whopper premium package that includes Parktronic, a power tailgate, DVD navigation, Sirius Satellite Radio, premium sound with rear controls, power tilt/telescoping steering, and BlueTooth hands-free communication for $4500. From there, we added rear-seat DVD entertainment ($2650), an off-road package (adaptive damping, two locking differentials, and front/rear skidplates for $2200), twin sunroofs ($1500), three-zone climate-control ($1320); metallic Barolo Red paint ($700), Macadamia leather ($1650), a rearview backup camera ($500), a wood and leather steering wheel ($540), and Bi-Xenon headlamps that turn with the steering wheel ($900). It all totals to an as-tested price of $72,135. A fully loaded GL450 runs at $79,195, that's over $24,000 just in options.
The GL450 has safety covered, too. Two-stage front airbags for driver and passenger, side bags in the front- and second-row seats, and a curtain bag that spans all three rows of seats. Combine that with a steel unit body and high-strength occupant cell, and you have yourself one safe vehicle.
Shortly after its arrival, our new GL was off to Las Vegas with an editor for the Vegoose music festival, shuttling people to and from the venue, with many of the passengers noting how smoothly and quietly the vehicle rides. The GL's drivetrain is amazing. The all-aluminum V-8 has plenty of pep, and, mated to the seven-speed adaptive transmission, that power is easily put to the pavement through the full-time 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
To say this is a popular vehicle would be an understatement: Since being released to our editors, the GL hasn't once sat in our garage overnight.
As always, we'll report back to you on everything we discover during our time with the Mercedes-Benz GL450.