Is the 2007 Mercedes GL-Class the best Benz SUV yet?
2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-ClassCommunities from Pacific Palisades to Pompano Beach will quake with enough excitement to register on the Richter scale when word of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class spreads among the nation’s affluent. This handsome new suv, a seven-seater built on the same platform as the recently redesigned M-Class, represents the most appealing of the German automaker’s sport-utility vehicles, which range from the odd-looking R-Class sport-tourer on the car side of the equation to the combat-ready G-Glass military vehicle on the truck side. The conservatively-styled GL-Class neatly splits the difference between the wild R- and rugged G-Class models, while allowing its smaller M-Class sibling to serve the style-conscious crowd.
Mercedes-Benz debuted the 2007 GL-Class at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. A 4.6-liter, 335-horsepower V8 engine is standard, matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission that drives all four wheels through the company’s 4Matic 4WD system. Downhill Assist Regulation and Hill Start Assist technologies are also standard, while an Off-Road package includes a two-speed transfer case, front and rear locking differentials, and an air suspension that can raise the GL-Class an additional 12 inches to create a maximum fording depth of 23 inches. The hardware roster also includes a four-wheel-independent suspension, speed-sensitive steering, and 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 265/60 all-season tires. An Airmatic air suspension and adaptive damping shocks are optional. The 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is rated to tow up to 7,500 pounds, and if history is any indicator, a Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG is likely arriving in showrooms for 2008 or 2009.
Inside, leather and burl walnut wood dominate, and there’s a standard power sunroof with a fixed glass panel located over the third-row seats. When the power split-folding third-row seats are not in use, the GL-Class can carry 43.8 cubic feet of cargo. Fold the second-row seats and it can manage up to 83 cubic feet of stuff. As with the M- and R-Class models, a long list of optional features including Premium, Sport, Comfort, and Entertainment packages is likely to be available, along with features such as a navigation system, satellite radio, and Keyless Go ignition.
Built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama employing steel unibody construction with front and rear crumple zones, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class should prove quite safe with two-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for the first and second rows, and side-curtain airbags for all three rows of seats.
When the 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class arrives, it will take on the redesigned 2007 Cadillac Escalade, and will duke it out with a larger, all-new BMW X5. Based on BMW’s polarizing design themes, our initial driving impressions of the M-Class, and what we know about the Escalade, it looks like Mercedes is neatly positioned to grab more market share with the new GL-Class. – Christian J. Wardlaw
Photos courtesy of Mercedes-Benz