Shortly after the Benz's arrival, back to the shop it went. Two of its tires had started slowly leaking down-about five pounds in a month. The shop found the tires had been punctured by nails; they made the repair, then mounted and balanced the tires. We'd also been having problems with the car's DVD system: The screens, positioned on the back side of the front-seat headrests, had stopped working, plus the player ate an editor's DVD. So at that same visit, the shop ran tests on the system and determined the rear audio/video unit needed rebooting. So far, the system is working just fine.

From the Log-book:

Spent a recent weekend using the GL in full `family' mode. After a Saturday morning run to the mega-mart for groceries/supplies, it took only a push of the two conveniently mounted rear switches to drop the third-row power seats to make plenty of room for our haul. A hugely appreciated feature, especially given the contortions required to flatten seats in some other vehicles. The power up/down tailgate seems like overkill, though -- really, how hard is it to pull a nicely weighted door up or down?A long afternoon drive through traffic to Pasadena was eased by the rear-seat DVD system, which kept my daughter entertained with "Ice Age" while my wife and I listened to Sirius comedy up front. Nice that you can operate the rear entertainment system fully independently of the main audio setup and do so using only the controls in the rear, no intervention from parents required.Ride comfort is quite good and the powertrain moves the GL smoothly and quietly, though it was a bit shocking to note the 10-11 mpg fuel average displayed on the trip computer. The GL drives `small' for a vehicle with such interior spaciousness and the rear-view camera makes backing into a parking space a breeze.You'll pay for the privilege at the sales desk and at the pumps, but it's hard to imagine a more versatile, comfortable, roomy, capable machine than this big Benz. -Arthur St. Antoine

Ah, so this is what flying a Lear Jet or Gulfstream V is like. Plenty of room, yet drives smaller. Plenty of power out of an efficient engine. Plenty of room without being a tank. Feels expensive, and makes you feel special when you ride in or drive it. Not crazy about the column shifter; I like the console-mounted, ergonomically shaped piece in the new X5 a lot better. But that's a smallish issue. Just can't believe how stupid, wasteful, and cartoonish this makes something like an H2 look, which isn't much less money. The Mercedes-Benz GL is the best three-row luxury/utility money can buy, and a worthy wearer of our Sport/Utility of The Year crown. -Matt Stone

2007 Mercedes-Benz GL450
Total Mileage 10,649
Average fuel econ 14.8 mpg
Unresolved problem areas None
Maintenance cost None
Normal-wear cost None