All-new for the current model year, the second-generation 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class doesn’t share all that much with its predecessor in terms of design, but the two do have at least one thing in common: After the re-engineered version took home the crown just days ago, each has now debuted as Motor Trend’s Sport/Utility of the Year.
Today's GL-Class earned the honor by outperforming 10 other new or significantly redesigned crossovers and SUVs—ranging from mainstream entries like the Ford Escape and Nissan Pathfinder to premium players like the Audi allroad and Acura RDX—in six different facets of the ownership experience: design advancement, engineering excellence, performance of intended function, efficiency, safety and value.
"We had an extremely competitive field for Motor Trend's 2013 Sport/Utility of the Year," said Edward Loh, Motor Trend’s editor-in-chief. "However, the Mercedes-Benz GL truly outshone the field and emerged as the clear winner by the end of our program. The goal of the award is to name the SUV that best meets our six criteria, and none of the new 2013 SUV or crossover models managed to do that better than the GL. Simply put, the Mercedes-Benz GL is an outstanding vehicle, and we're proud to name it our 2013 Sport/Utility of the Year."
2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class: Three-of-a-Kind
The award-winning 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class—also the recent recipient of a 2012 Motorist Choice trophy as the country’s top people mover in the premium segments—actually is available in three tasty flavors:
- GL350 BlueTEC—The entry point for the GL-Class features M-B’s 4MATIC full-time all-wheel drive and proven clean-diesel technology, this time in the form of an advanced V6 engine that makes 240 hp and a diesel-enhanced 455 lb.-ft. of torque—which combine for a 7,500-lb. max tow rating and EPA marks of up to 26 mpg highway.
- GL450 4MATIC—For a significant power-boost, drivers can add a 4.6-liter bi-turbo V8 that supplies 362 hp and 406 lb.-ft. of torque; the powertrain delivered “far and away the most fun I had behind the wheel,” according to MT’s Michael Floyd.
- GL550 4MATIC—The range-topper revs up with even more performance, thanks to a tuned-up version of the twin-turbo V8 that offers 429 horses and 516 lb.-ft. of twist and the fastest 0-60 time in MT testing: A pavement-blurring 5.1 seconds.
Of course, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is more than just another pretty powerplant. It’s a complete package that also earned the following high praise from MT’s Loh: “Imagine a gigantic Swiss Army knife, with 50-some tools (one of the tools is a Leatherman, which itself has 50 tools). Now imagine all the blades are gold-plated platinum, and the inlaid mother-of-pearl handle is wrapped in leather from a Himalayan bald eagle. That's basically the GL."