Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 3.0L V6 Diesel
Power:
240 HP / 455 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
7.5 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
130 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
5,467 LBS
Seating:
2+3+2
MPG:
19 City / 26 HWY
Full-size, seven-passenger sport utility vehicles don't get much better than this. Fresh off a complete second-generation redesign, the Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC is the oil-burning variant - and the entry-level model - in the automaker's GL-Class lineup. A luxury SUV with an efficient diesel engine screams "Roadtrip!" – so I loaded up my family of four and headed north up famed California State Route 1 to Hearst Castle for the day. The well-isolated GL proved every bit as spectacular as newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst's "ranch" on the hill, seemingly determined to justify its recent accolade.

Driving Notes
  • The heart of the GL350 BlueTEC is a 3.0-liter four-valve direct-injected turbocharged diesel engine rated at 240 horsepower, but delivering a whopping 455 pound-feet from as low as 1,600 rpm. There is a bit of turbo lag off the line, especially when rushed, but the standard seven-speed automatic does an admirable job hustling the 5,467-pound vehicle to 60 mph in under eight seconds. In real-world driving conditions, the torque makes it feel quicker than that.
  • Fuel economy was impressive for its size. The EPA rates the big BlueTEC at 19 mpg city, and 26 mpg highway. During our 407-mile road trip, we averaged 25.3 mpg (including city cycles at both ends of the excursion). With a 26.4 gallon fuel tank, highway range is in excess of 650 bladder-bursting miles.
  • The GL350 BlueTEC can't claim outward visibility as its strength. We'd like to see larger exterior mirrors. Thankfully, a handful of useful (and very effective) electronic nannies and a 360-degree camera ease maneuvering. Despite its size, a tight 40.7-foot turning radius allows stress-free U-turns on most city streets. Excellent bi-xenon headlights, with Highbeam Assist and Active Curve Illumination take all fear out of night driving, too.
  • Driver and passenger enjoy heated, cooled and massaging sport seats that are more comfortable than your mother's loving arms. Second row passengers are treated nearly as well, provided their own HVAC controls with multiple air vents. The third row has always been a GL-Class strength, and it will easily accommodate full-size occupants without a murmur of protest.
  • Distronic Plus is pricey ($2,800), but for this driver, it's a must-have option. The autonomous radar-based adaptive cruise control scans the road up to 600 feet ahead, allowing the GL350 to automatically follow, accelerate and decelerate with other traffic (it will even come to a complete stop). Better yet, it's bundled with Pre-Safe Brake, Active Lane Keep Assist and Active helping to prevent rear-end collisions. The geek in me really liked how it displayed the distance to the vehicle I was trailing in real time.
  • My list of gripes was small, but worthy of a mention. First, the iPhone interface plug is too big to fit devices with protective cases. Second, the electronic parking brake isn't intuitive (push down to set, lift to release). Third, the round volume control button in the center console is too small for large fingers. Lastly, the passenger step-in height is a bit too high for those who are... um, vertically challenged.
Even though the GL350 BlueTEC is the least expensive model in Benz's GL-Class, its base price of $62,400 (plus $905 destination) swelled to an as-tested price of $87,500 on our well-optioned tester. What just may be the world's best seven-passenger sport utility vehicle doesn't come cheap – good things never do.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 30 Comments
      snap_understeer_ftw
      • 2 Years Ago
      TORQUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Jeff
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why do they offer the off-road package for the 450 & 550 but not the 350, which is the most likely to actually go off road?
        Arash
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jeff
        99.99% of buyers dont take it off road, its almost as usless as the system they got running in the Range Rovers
      RCheung28
      • 2 Years Ago
      I was so happy to see the base price at $62K but then I realized I live in Canada.
        k.naz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RCheung28
        Ditto, at some parts of Europe, well maybe most parts, SUV's will cost anywhere from the Germany price all the way to €200k :/
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is the luxury SUV of choice because of the diesel. Well done Mercedes!
      Dump
      • 2 Years Ago
      beautiful. sure hope navigation & rear seat dvd are included in the base price for this model. ...but look at the torque!!!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dump
        [blocked]
      rmkensington
      • 2 Years Ago
      And in 4 years it will be worth $15,000
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rmkensington
        @ rmkensington That's exactly what happens when you try to post BS statistics. Better luck next time, you know, when you actually do some research before you type.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rmkensington
        [blocked]
          Arash
          • 2 Years Ago
          in Canada 80+% of the GL's sold are the 350, almost no one buys the 550 ( I have been told it uses 40% more fuel than the diesel )
        Frank Bevalaqua
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rmkensington
        FWIW, I have a 2011 GL350 which had a $71K sticker (nicely equiped) but only paid $64K for it. Four year old GL's sell for ~$40K, so they don't depreciate as fast as you think. My point is that nobody pays sticker for these cars, you don't need to get every single silly option, and they hold their value pretty well. And if you can get 25MPG with a diesel, that's a lot better than the 14MPG I used to get in my Land Rover LR3. You'll save almost $2K a year in fuel alone. So the GL isn't really as expensive as you think, and it's by far the best SUV on the road.
        Arash
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rmkensington
        I drove a 2008 GL leased and when I was done the residual was 47 but the car was worth 37 k so your numbers are way off budd
      bubciak
      • 2 Years Ago
      Is this minivan ?
      S40Powered
      • 2 Years Ago
      Still looks like a RAV4 from SEMA.
      Vinuuz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Manufacturers should set self imposed limits - options cannot add up to more than 25% of the base price - look at this one, it started at 62 and swelled to 88 k $. What the!
        montoym
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Vinuuz
        Not a terribly well thought out idea. Basically, the end result of that would be that the base prices would climb. Instead of a $62k base price for this, it would be $75k instead this way if you option it up, you won't surpass your "limit". Then, you'd just be forcing people to buy a more optioned up version because you didn't want to give them a cheaper base model for fear of this 25% limitation. Not only that, but this isn't even the top of the heap for the GL. Bump up to the GL550 with some options and you'll be into the $100k range, what then? Not to mention the upcoming AMG version as well that will be even pricier. Should the diesel "base" model cost substantially more just to satisfy this 25% figure? The upper models certainly aren't going to drop in price. That said, you must not have done the same math on numerous other cheaper vehicles. Take a base Civic, or Focus, or Camry, Sonata etc. and then look at the cost of a fully optioned version as well. Those will all have an even higher percentage increase than this GL. It's just the way things work but it's also a result of the GL having a higher price. So, it takes a lot more $ to increase the price by the same percentage than a less expensive vehicle would. If you don't want to pay that much, then don't check the option boxes. That simple.
        Tirac
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Vinuuz
        I think they should set self imposed limits on weight as well.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      KaiserWilhelm
      • 2 Years Ago
      Enough with the stupid "bladder bursting range" crap. We get it, diesels can go far...
      Jobu
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hmmm. Needs more torque...
        Arash
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jobu
        More HP not torque, should be minimum 275 hp
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