Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Performance
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is a superbly performing SUV according to nearly all reviewers. A powerful, but silent, V-8 engine powers a car that Motor Trend, which named the 2007 GL-Class "SUV of the Year," says "never feels like a full-size brute that can swallow seven; rather, it drives small, coming across more as an S-Class sedan than an Escalade competitor."
This luxury SUV is also considered by most reviewers to provide an excellent driving experience, with nearly every reviewer noting, as New Car Test Drive does, that "the Mercedes-Benz GL 450 is large and capable off road yet feels surprisingly car-like on the road." thanks to its unibody construction, instead of body-on-frame construction, as is typically used in most large SUVs and trucks.
Ride comfort and handling, as befits a luxury SUV, also puts the 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class at the top of its class, thanks to standard all-wheel drive, an independent rear suspension, and features such as electronic stability control. Motor Week says "we found the GL's cornering reactions to be very responsive with much less front push and obvious weight transfer than most big sport-utes."
Acceleration and Power
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class has two available engines. The GL450 is powered by a 4.6L, 335hp V8 engine. The GL 320-CDI is powered by a turbodiesel engine making 215 horsepower. Motor Trend's tests showed the GL 450 to be capable of getting from 0-60 in 6.7 seconds, the third-quickest time among the SUVs it tested, while Mercedes estimates the 0 to 60 time at 7.4 seconds. The standard engine is less powerful than the Cadillac Escalade, but Edmunds says that, despite the small engine, "the Mercedes-Benz GL450 is the muscle car of its class," besting the Escalade, in the 0-60 test. The 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is also capable of towing a 7500 pound load.
A seven-speed automatic transmission provides very smooth acceleration, according to most reviewers. AutoWeek says "Benz really hit a home run with this transmission...Sure, you don't need seven gears, but they work so smoothly you'll likely wonder how you lived with less." For drivers who may need manual shifting for off-road conditions, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class also provides controls on the steering wheel. Autobytel adds to the praise, saying "the seven-speed automatic transmission shifts sublimely under all circumstances, kicking down into the thick of the power with just a moment's hesitation." According to Mercedes-Benz, the transmission is also "intelligent:" a computer program analyzes the driver's style and adjusts shift-points accordingly.
The GL450 trim will not provide very good mileage, with EPA estimates of 13/17 miles per gallon (city/highway), but buyers hoping to lessen any guilt over buying such a vehicle might consider opting for the GL320-CDI, which provides much better mileage -- 18/23 mpg -- thanks to its diesel engine, and has a lower MSRP. As Car and Driver says, "there are almost no downsides to the diesel," though one can expect getting to 60 in about 9 seconds, instead of the GL450's 6.7 seconds. Buyers should note the diesel version is not yet available in California and some northeastern states because of emissions regulations.
Handling and Braking
Reviewers agree that if there is one thing that sets the 2007 Mercedes GL-Class apart from its competition it is superb handling. Edmunds pulls out all the stops, saying "the GL450 redefines how comfortably and confidently a large sport-utility can and should drive." While not all reviewers go that far, most reviewers agree the handling is superior in its class. Forbes says "you can toss the GL through a few hairpins and it will behave, straightening out of a bend with a jab of the throttle."
The GL450 uses an independent rear suspension system for both the front and rear wheels as well as a four-wheel air suspension system which automatically adjusts for road conditions, and which can also manually raise or lower the car's chassis for those venturing off-road. Reviewers find this suspension system does a very good job at providing a comfortable ride. Motor Week says "as you might expect from any big-Benz, ride quality is way above average." Consumer Guide notes that "[it is] impressively compliant over bumps, but [that] unwanted body motions compromise comfort," though no other reviewer noted much in the way of body sway.
Braking is provided by vented disc brakes, which are supplemented by a four-wheel traction system, which monitors the speed of all wheels for slip, and applies brakes individually as needed. Anti-lock brakes are standard. Motor Trend says that in its tests of SUV braking performance, the GL "finished near the front of the pack, tying with the much lighter Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe," going from 60 to 0 MPH in 129 feet.
Drivers seriously considering taking their Mercedes off-road might want to consider adding the off-road package, which adds an "Adaptive Damping System," allowing the driver to take more control over the suspension. This option allows the driver to choose between three-modes, Sport, Comfort, and Auto. AutoWeek says "though the big Benz is capable with the standard suspension, anyone who values body control and tautness in handling would be advised to opt for the adjustable suspension."
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