2007 GL-Class New Car Test Drive
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL 450 is the auto maker's first full-size sport utility vehicle. This all-new GL-Class of SUVs features three rows of seating and can seat up to seven passengers.
Large and luxurious, the GL is built in the United States alongside the M-Class mid-size SUV and the R-Class touring wagon. The GL is designed to appeal to Mercedes-Benz sedan owners who want the off-road, four-wheel-drive, seven-passenger and 7500-pound towing capabilities that come with a full-size SUV along with the luxury and safety features they have in their other Mercedes vehicles.
While their names sound similar, don't confuse the new GL-Class with the venerable G-Class or Gelandewagen. The GL shares nothing in common with the utiliarian G-Class, which will remain part of the Mercedes model lineup.
Initially available in one form, the Mercedes-Benz GL 450 is large and capable off road yet feels surprisingly car-like on the road. That car-like feeling comes in part because this is the first full-size SUV built around a unibody architecture instead of traditional body-on-frame construction. Mercedes says the GL is strong enough to tow a 30-foot boat, a trailer carrying three horses, or a good-sized Airstream travel trailer.
The GL-Class launches with a single model. The 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL 450 comes with a 335-hp V8 engine similar to the one in the new S-Class sedan. Additional models will be coming, starting early in calendar year 2007 with the GL 320 CDI, which comes with a diesel engine. Later, the GL will be available with Mercedes' breakthrough BlueTec diesel powertrain.
The Mercedes-Benz GL 450 ($54,900) comes with a 4.6-liter V8 engine, seven-speed automatic transmission, the 4MATIC four-wheel drive system, and the Airmatic air suspension system. It comes with seating for seven and with a third row that powers up or down at the touch of a button.
Options include Distronic radar-controlled cruise control; a rear-seat entertainment system with two screens; Keyless Go, which allows the car to be started as long as the key is inside the vehicle; Parktronic, which uses sonar to detect obstacles near the vehicle; a power rear tailgate; Harman/Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system; and DVD navigation.
Safety features that come standard include eight airbags, including side airbags for all four outboard first and second-row seating positions as well as side curtain airbags that protect occupants in all three rows. It comes with active front head restraints, LATCH tethers for child safety seats, and three-point safety belts for all seating positions; make sure everyone in the vehicle always wears those seat belts because they're your first line of defense in a crash. Active safety features (to help you avoid a crash) include an Electronic Stability Program, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist Plus, and four-wheel electronic traction control. Optional safety features include Parktronic and a rear-view camera, each of which can help alert the driver obstacles or people, including children, behind the vehicle.