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2012 Mercedes-Benz GL Class Comfort & Quality

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The Mercedes-Benz GL Class isn't quite as spacious as the largest Suburbans and Navigators. Still, it's quite a large vehicle, with room for seven people when it's pressed to the maximum its two-bucket, two-bench seating arrangement will allow.

The front passengers get nicely tailored seats, with good leg and head room, though the GL doesn't seem as broad as the big domestic SUVs. The standard seats are great for long road trips, but we'd spend extra to add ventilation to those chairs, for ultimate summer comfort. In the second row of seats, two adults will have enough shoulder room for a child in between, but three adults across is pushing the GL's limits of comfort.

The Mercedes-Benz GL Class is very spacious and well-equipped, though not as titanic as some of the domestic utes.

Count us in for the GL's third-row seats, too. It's one of the few way-back benches that fits adults well, and doesn't require heavy-duty hips and legs to reach. You won't find the kind of support built into the other seats, but the third row doesn't let down adults for leg or head room, and the cushion doesn't sit too close to the vehicle floor--an easy trick used elsewhere to dig out more headroom.

The third-row seat 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.

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