The Anti-Soccer Mom

By David Goodspeed

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL was just named SUV of the Year by Motor Trend and after spending a week with the vehicle recently it is easy to see why it wears that crown.

Forget for a second (if that’s possible) this is one of the most opulent sport utes we’ve tested in a while with its Designo interior and host of Mercedes goodies. At the heart and soul of this ride is a solid, proven platform offering a well controlled, confident on-road experience.

The GL comes with a choice of powertrains and our recent tester arrived with the BlueTec turbodiesel 3.0-liter V-6 engine that generates 240hp and a whopping 455 lb. ft. of torque. Thanks to AdBlue exhaust treatment the engine meets 50-state diesel compliance in the U.S. while never rearing an ugly diesel head and most folks would probably not even realize this vehicle has a diesel under the hood if you did not tell them.

The BlueTec is backed by a slick seven-speed automatic gearbox with Direct Select shift lever and steering wheel mounted shift paddles (on a diesel, yes). This GL350 rides on stylish 19-inch twin 5-spoke alloy wheels sprung by the awesome Airmatic self-leveling air suspension system for one of the best rides on the road today, SUV or not.

The new GL arrives with a host of new driver-assist technologies including Collision Prevention Assist that uses radar to sense distance to objects and vehicles ahead, Attention Assist for drowsy drivers, Adaptive Brake technology, Crosswind Stabilization, Active Curve System featuring a semi-active suspension system to assist with control in curves, Active Lane Keeping Assist, 360-degree Surround View Camera, Active Parking Assist, and a host of others.

All new GL models arrive with the Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC all-wheel drive system for even further capability no matter the road conditions year ‘round.

And what may come as a surprise to many is that all GL-Class models are built in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama along with the M-Class sport utes and the plant is slated to build the next-generation C-Class cars in 2014.

Fuel economy for the GL350 BlueTec is 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Towing, if one is so inclined, is rated for up to 7,500 lbs. and the fuel tank is a healthy 26.4 gallons offering a generous range on the road with this luxury sport ute.

Pricing begins at a reasonable $62,400 for the GL-Class with our BlueTec/Designo tester rolling into our driveway at a whopping $99,840 thanks to the impressive and comfortable interior package, the awesome Bang and Olufsen sound system, rear seat entertainment, heated/ventilated front seating and heated rear seats, and panorama sunroof. Yes, the add-ons for this vehicle total more than what a lot of folks pay for their entire vehicles.

This is a very capable, very comfortable, very opulent vehicle and yes, is out of reach for most, but for the discerning luxury SUV buyer this is a great way to get over the river and through the woods as one heads to grandmother’s house this holiday season.