2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Performance
This performance review was written when the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class was new.
Overall, reviewers like the 2013 Mercedes GL’s performance. They love its handling, saying it’s flat in the corners and smooth over bumps. Plus, they really appreciate the fuel economy from the base diesel engine and the horsepower from the two optional V8 engines. However, most don’t like the GL’s light steering, although they admit that most of the SUV’s potential buyers likely won’t mind, since it makes the GL a bit easier to drive at low speeds. In general, though, reviewers like the way the GL drives, saying it’s smooth, powerful and sporty for a three-row crossover.
- "As we sweep through a fast, winding two-lane, the word effortless again springs to mind.” -- Automobile Magazine
- "This benign three-row crossover, attractive in its own big-box way, happens to be the most engaging, best-handling CUV this reviewer has ever tested, on road or off.” -- AutoWeek
- "Pushed into the winding byways of scenic Northern New Mexico, our test GLs were remarkably nimble and powerful.” -- Left Lane News
Acceleration and Power
The Mercedes GL-Class offers a choice between three engines. The base Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec comes with a turbodiesel V6 engine that makes 240 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. The GL450 comes with a 4.6-liter, turbocharged V8 engine that makes 362 horsepower, and the top-of-the-line GL550 comes with a 429-horsepower turbo V8. All three engines are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The diesel engine gets great fuel economy for a three-row SUV, with an EPA-rated 19/26 mpg city/highway. The middle-of-the-road GL450 gets 14/19 mpg, and the 2013 GL550 gets 13/18 mpg.
Reviewers say the 2013 Mercedes GL350’s diesel is adequately powerful, though they write that it has a lot of turbo lag. Most like the GL450’s 362-horsepower V8 the best, saying it has plenty of power for both carpooling parents and occasional speed demons. Nearly every auto writer absolutely loves the GL550’s monster V8, saying that it’s ridiculously powerful and probably faster than what most GL-Class buyers need.
- “The Mercedes diesel has smooth and linear power delivery, maybe more important it's quiet, and the lower frequency NVH from the diesel is less noticeable in the cabin. It didn't feel slow at all until we got in the other two GLs.” -- Motor Trend
- “The engine delivers 362 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, which is more than adequate enough to kick the ridiculously heavy SUV down the highway.” -- Autoblog
- "The 3.0-liter turbo diesel V-6, despite gaining 30 hp and 55 lb-ft compared to the previous-generation's 3.0-liter, suffers from noticeable low-end turbo lag. It also runs out of breath at highway speeds as its 240 hp strains against 5467 pounds.” -- Automobile Magazine
- "Horsepower weenies and those concerned about rear fascia badging will be delighted by the smooth V8 engines, but we never found a challenge that the diesel's 455 lb-ft of low-rpm torque couldn't conquer. Our main complaint centers on pronounced lag when the throttle is first pressed, but once the power comes on, it's strong through redline.” -- AutoWeek
Handling and Braking
Many test drivers write about how much they love the Mercedes GL’s ride and lack of body roll, with some saying it’s the best-handling crossover they’ve ever driven. However, they don’t like its electronic steering, saying it’s too light at low speeds. A few also write that its brakes feel too spongy, although not everyone has that complaint. The GL-Class comes standard with all-wheel drive, unlike some of its competitors like the Cadillac Escalade, which requires a costly upgrade for all-wheel drive.
- "Mercedes says its high-performance AMG division did the tuning, but the [steering] system still suffers from a lack of feedback and ridiculously high-assist at lower speeds. It does firm up once you get going.” -- Automobile Magazine
- "In Comfort mode, the big GLs are one of the best-riding SUVs on the road, with a ride very similar to the S-Class. The refinement and isolation puts most other large SUVs and a good number of sedans to shame. … In Sport mode, the GL tightens up to near-sport-sedan responsiveness.” -- Motor Trend
- "Credit the granite-block body structure and the Airmatic suspension in large part: The GL simply doesn't care what sort of situation it's thrown into; it'll carry you around a corner, over a rut or across the tarmac with unflappable aplomb.” -- AutoWeek
- "We whined persistently about the previous GL's squishy brakes. Pedal travel remains longer than it should be, but once the slack is taken up, there's a firm feeling underfoot this time around.” -- Car and Driver