2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Review
This year the already excellent Mercedes-Benz GL-Class gets even better with the addition of a V6 turbodiesel Bluetec engine that is so clean that it has been released throughout the US. The GL-Class is a large luxury SUV that seats seven in style and is the big brother of the five-seater M-Class. While perhaps not being the most powerful large SUV on the road, the GL offers a superbly comfortable ride with understated luxury features and unsurpassed on-road performance. It also retains the advantage of having amongst the best fuel economy in the class.
2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Performance
There are three engines available for the 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. The GL320 is the base engine and carries a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine that generates 210hp and a mighty 398lb-ft of torque. Like most diesels it doesn't win any prizes for fast acceleration from a standstill, but with its impressive torque picks up nicely and offers plenty of power for any situation. Not only that but it offers incredibly clean emissions with the new urea technology injected into the exhaust, as well as significantly better fuel economy at 17/32mpg. Even with all that, the price still comes in at several thousand under the GL450 with the tax credits currently being offered for clean vehicles. For our money this is clearly the GL of choice.
However if it is available power you want and the idea of a turbodiesel doesn't do it for you, then there is always the GL450. It offers a 4.7-liter V8 engine that produces 335hp and 339lb-ft of torque and more than adequate power for highway passing and as good as if not better than much of the competition. The GL550 upgrades this with a 5.5-liter V8 that produces 382hp and 391lb-ft of torque - still less torque than the turbodiesel, but far more sprightly acceleration.
All of the GL-Class offers a seven-speed automatic transmission that shifts incredibly smoothly and makes the GL-Class a stand-out in refinement. Handling is assisted by the unibody chassis and four-wheel air suspension system that automatically adjusts to the road conditions and features manual settings for a range of off-roading conditions. All-wheel drive is standard but the Mercedes-Benz GL does not pretend to be an offroad specialist and does not provide low-range gears, relegating it to light four-wheel driving duties only. The GL-Class is tuned to the comfort side of the scale rather than sports, and the result is a softly-sprung and light-steering vehicle that has been criticised for being too floaty around corners. We have a hard time finding fault with it however, given the preference for light steering amongst many of the other luxury suvs like the Cadillac Escalade and Toyota Land Cruiser.
While the fuel economy for the Bluetec Diesel on the GL320 is admirable, the GL450 and GL550 are not so impressive at 13/18mpg and 13/17mpg city/highway respectively, although this is by no means the worst in the class. Maximum towing ability is 7,500lb.
2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Interior and Features
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class does not skimp on the luxury, however it justifies its comparatively low cost by adding most of the luxury features as options. Standard however is the comfortable and well-bolstered seating and more than adequate head and leg room in the front and second rows. Even the third row of seating that allows the GL to seat seven offers more leg-space than almost anything else in the class so that even adults can fit comfortably. Rear space is somewhat less in the GL-Class thanks to the extra seating space, but is still useable and can be easily increased with the power-operated button to fold the third row into the floor.
Standard features in the GL320 and GL450 include 20-inch wheels for the GL320 and 19-inch wheels for the GL450, leatherette upholstery and wood trim, dual-zone climate control, sunroof, adjustable front seats with heating, audio system with 6-CD changer, Bluetooth wireless phone system, auxiliary audio jack, universal garage door opener and the COMAND interface for multi-media systems. The ultra-luxury GL550 adds 21-inch wheels, leather upholstery, heated rear seats and multi-contour front seats, voice recognition navigation system, front and rear obstacle detection systems, upgraded Harman Kardon sound system, iPod adapter, satellite radio and power liftgate.
Most of these features are available on the GL320 and GL450 as options, plus tri-zone climate control, rear-seat DVD entertainment system and steering-linked adaptive xenon headlights, as well as a number of exterior appearance upgrades.
2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Safety
There are a plethora of safety features on the 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class that make it one of the safest vehicles on the road. Electronic stability control, traction control, 4-wheel disc brakes, brake assist and anti-skid system work together to maintain control even in emergency situations. Front and rear obstacle detection system is available as standard on the GL550 and optional on the other models. TeleAid emergency assistance system is standard, as is hill ascent and descent control for off-roading. Dual front, front side and curtain side and drive knee airbags are standard, as are the front seat active head restraints to prevent whiplash. Seatbelts feature emergency tensioners that tighten all seatbelts in use in the event of a crash.
- Electronic stability, ABS, traction control, anti-skid, brake assist
- Front and rear obstacle detection
- Hill ascent and descent control
- Active head restraints
- Dual front, front side, side curtain and knee airbags
- Tire pressure monitor