In the market for a vehicle that can take you, your friends and all their belongings deep into the off-road wilderness as far away from civilization as you can get? There's an SUV for that. Want something that will make you look extra-super-special while dropping Timmy off at the soccer game? Why yes, there's an SUV for that. Several, in fact. And there's an SUV for just about everything in between those extremes, too.

All of this makes picking one single 'ute to rule them all especially difficult. That said, the boys and girls from Motor Trend decided to put the latest crop of SUVs and crossovers against each other in a fight to the death, or at least until the magazine's editors had decided one was better than all the rest. After it was all said and done, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL took home the coveted golden-caliper award as MT's SUV of the Year.

Interestingly enough, for 2013, there wasn't a single body-on-frame machine in the running, nor was a live axle anywhere to be found. Clearly the term Sport Utility Vehicle means something different today than it did when the category was arguably defined in 1984 with the launch of the seminal Jeep Cherokee. Explains Motor Trend: "As this segment keeps redefining itself, we will continue to adjust our evaluation methods and techniques."

Want to know how the GL earned this accolade? Check out the complete story here and here, then scroll down below for some behind-the-scenes footage.


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  • 86 Comments
      Puffy
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's easy building a great car for $60,000. What's hard is making a great one for $30,000. Some car guy said that.
      RWD
      • 2 Years Ago
      "The 'SUV of the Year' competition is not a straight comparison test. What we want to determine is which of these new SUVs is class-leading, and then once we find the class leaders, kinda pit them against each other." So... you "pit them against each other". How is that not comparing them?
      Michael
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm just going to go ahead and say this, but the Mercedes GL won SUV of the year again?
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Michael
        [blocked]
      bonehead
      • 2 Years Ago
      Clearly the mercedes benz GL is the winner. Its the only one that bothered to show up 3 times.
      alphaass
      • 2 Years Ago
      What does a unibody Jeep Cherokee have to do with body-on-frame vehicles? I'm confused.
        montoym
        • 2 Years Ago
        @alphaass
        I wondered that as well. Kind of funny that it was mentioned as the beginning of the BoF SUV craze. At least that's how that section read anyway.
      Rob J
      • 2 Years Ago
      The most expensive one was the best one? Shocking.
      kant
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm loving this quote from MT "The reason why cars like the Mazda CX-5 and the Honda CR-V. These are really good little CUVs. The problem was they're in the same class as the Ford Escape and the Ford Escape is better. So you might be asking how can you have the Ford escape competing with something like the Mercedes GL....The SUV of the year competition isn't a strict comparison test" Remember that boys and girls. We eliminated a couple of cuvs because they don't compare well against the escape but don't eliminate escape vs another one because the competition isn't a "strict comparison test"... all of that said in the same breath...*facepalm* this is why no one takes MT seriously.
      Merc1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Amazing that no one here seems to understand how the MT contest work. The GL wasn't tested against the CX-5. The GL was weighed against its segment and deemed vastly superior, having more of an impact on its segment than the Escape or CX-5 had on their respective segment. Never seen a more lost group of people commenting on an article here. Don't you guys read before posting? M
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Merc1
        [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          montoym
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ SVX Pearlie: Easy, in those days, those were the best new or significantly updated cars available in those categories. Thank goodness pretty much everyone (and especially the domestics), now produce world-class vehicles. Also, don't forget that in the early days, MT had both a COTY award and also an Import COTY award. So, in some of those COTY contests, the crappy domestics were competing against other crappy domestics. For instance, in 1980 when the Chevy Citation won COTY, what other all-new or heavily updated model of domestic car should have won instead? The Import COTY award was still around then (was awarded until 1999) so you can't choose an import. I'll wait here while you persuse through crap to find the shiniest turd. However, the reasons for its selection are there, the Citation was General Motors' first popularly-priced mass-market family car with front wheel drive. That's a pretty significant leap forward at the time and probably what pushed the Citation to the win. I could go on with the others as well. The only one I can sort of agree with is the choice of the PT Cruiser in 2001. However, remember how revolutionary the PT Cruiser was back then. People were paying double the MSRP to own one early on. Looking back, was it the best car? Probabaly not, but these decisions are made at the time, not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. Here's how MT summed up the PT Cruiser in their article for the '01 COTY, - "Call Chrysler's innovatively conceived, smashingly styled, intelligently packaged, inexpensive, fun-to-drive, ultra-practical, positively segment-busting PT Cruiser anything you want: We call it Motor Trend's 2001 Car of the Year." - Like the PT or loathe it, it's hard to argue with what they said.
        montoym
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Merc1
        Thank You! Someone who gets it!
      Timothy Tibbetts
      • 2 Years Ago
      So they placed the Mercedes against other Mercedes and other SUVs that cost half the price and Mercedes won? Watching them explain themselves is embarrassing. Sure, we have the Audi Wagon but we won't say why we have no Q5 or Q7. We won't mention where the Jeep Grand Cherokee is. Shhh. If you need to make a 7:27 long video explaining why you chose the cars you chose in such an obviously biased contest, you're doing it wrong.
      sls62
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great bit of consumer advice Motor Trend, for choosing a SUV almost no one can afford.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        aviboy97
        • 2 Years Ago
        Wasted? Ha! Mazda got beat by a SUV that cost three times as much. Surprised? I'm not.
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        lol.... Honda CR-V didn't win. All of the money and resources going into the 4th Gen CR-V wasted. See, I can do that too and put a slant on YOUR favorite brand.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          [blocked]
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well deserved, the CX-5 is more significant to the masses but the GL with the diesel is a pretty much perfect all around vehicle.
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