What is it? Mercedes has redesigned its largest SUV, the GL, for 2013, offering a nearly endless assortment of standard or optional luxury and safety features and high-tech refinements. It easily seats seven people, with a three-person second row and two in the wayback. In the GL450, the standard engine is a 362-hp, 4.6-liter turbocharged V8. The uplevel GL550 gets a 429-hp version of the same powerplant. There’s also a Bluetec engine, the same 240-hp turbodiesel V6 used in the smaller M-Class. The hood, fenders, and major suspension components are made from aluminum to save weight. The cabin is a bit wider than before and a three-part glass roof makes it feel bigger by allowing lots of natural light to shine in.
What is new or notable? The smaller half of the 60/40-split second row has a power fold feature; At the push of a button, it folds and tumbles, opening a passage to the rear. The third row has generous space above the waist, but if second-row occupants have reclined their seats at all, knee room is sparse. The third row also has a power fold feature. Backseat passengers get a pair of LED infotainment screens mounted on back of the front-seat headrests.
As for driving technologies, the GL offers a new Crosswind Stabilization system to cope with wind buffeting; that can be welcome in a big, relatively boxy vehicle. Also new is a 360-degree camera system to aid in parking and maneuvering in other tight spaces. Another standard feature is Attention Assist; this vibrates the steering wheel and takes other corrective measures if it detects a sleepy or inattentive driver. Collision Prevention Assist uses radars to detect an imminent collision with other cars or a fixed object. It sounds a warning and readies the brakes for a panic stop.
When will it be available? September 2012.