My last long-term vehicle was the Volkswagen Passat TDI, Motor Trend's 2012 Car of the Year. To continue the best of the best theme, I begrudgingly pried myself out of the frugal and efficient Passat and stepped up, figuratively and literally, into our new gigantic and luxurious Sport/Utility of the Year, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350.

Let's go ahead and address the elephant in the room. Our diesel-powered GL bases at $63,305, but was delivered carrying an as tested price of $88,615. Before you light the torches and sharpen your pitchforks, you might want to consider that's only $1000 more than a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Platinum. It's also 2 grand cheaper than a fully loaded Lexus LX. It's hard to call a nearly $90,000 SUV a value, but if you're getting a better-equipped, superior vehicle and you save a few bucks, why not?

As you would expect from the price, our GL is brimming with amenities. The front seats are heated, ventilated, and equipped with massagers. The second row has its own rear seat entertainment system and power folding seats to make the third row easy to access. On the driving front, our family truckster is equipped with air suspension, adjustable damping, and active anti-roll bars. Although these sound like the sorts of things that are more useful on a sports car, a three-row SUV will constantly be seeing a variation between one and seven passengers, and on- and off-road travel, making it the ideal candidate for adjustable suspension. Since this is one of the largest vehicles we've ever had in our long-term fleet, we're thrilled it's equipped with the Parking Assist Package. At just $1290, this option is impossible to pass up. Mercedes' Surround View is currently the best system on the market, and of all the luxuries on the SUV, this one might get the most use.

With a 1-year-old, a full date book of family visits, and some vacations of our own, we plan on a busy 12 months for our SUV of the Year. The gargantuan size may take some adjustment, but I have a feeling the opulence will make things a bit easier.


2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC
BASE PRICE $63,305
PRICE AS TESTED $88,615
DRIVETRAIN Front engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 3.0L/240-hp/455-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (DIST F/R) 5777 lb (50/50%)
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 201.6 x 78.0 x 72.8
0-60 MPH 7.6 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.9 sec @ 84.8 mph
EPA CITY/HWY /COMB FUEL ECON 19/26/22 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 201/147 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 1.03 lb/mile
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.3 sec @ 0.59 g (avg.)