It drives with the feel of a smaller vehicle, but the interior space in the 2011 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is sizable enough for seven people seated in a 2-3-2 configuration, and a generous amount of their belongings.
The GL's smartly tailored cockpit has front seats with plenty of leg and shoulder room. On the GL550, the supportive and faintly cushy front seats also have built-in ventilation (it's an option on other models).
One row back, the second-row seats are large enough for two adults and a child in between. Three adults is pushing the available space, despite the GL's wide stance.
All the way back, the GL shines with a third-row bench that's one of the few in existence with adult-sized room. It's not the lap of pleasure, but the back bench really will host people over 18 years old, even if they're a little taller than the norm--and with tilt-and-flip second-row seats, the third-row seat isn't as difficult as it could be to enter and to exit.
The back seat also folds out of sight at the touch of a button to boost cargo space. It's smaller than the big GM utes by a good margin, but even with all seats in place, the GL has ample space for cargo. Fold down the second and third rows, and the GL-Class opens up 83.3 cubic feet of storage space for whatever you choose. That's more than you'll find in the big Lincoln MKT, though it's about 25 cubic feet less than the vast expanses inside a GMC Yukon Denali.
In all, the GL's cabin faintly reeks of high-quality construction. It's only when you realize the base seats are covered in vinyl that you even question the lush walnut trim on the dash and the perfectly textured leather when it's specified. Mercedes explains some buyers want a cruelty-free interior, hence the vinyl--but really, are there that many vegans who want a huge, gas-quaffing SUV? There's a touch of road and wind noise, too, but with its recent redesign, the GL's cabin grew much closer to the high standard set by the Land Rover Range Rover.