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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
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Hill start assist, hill descent control and TeleAid are also included
Neither of the major crash-test agencies has yet put the GL through its paces, but the sterling Mercedes safety reputation precedes this big ute anyway.
Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) changed their testing criteria in the 2011 model year, and haven't compiled new results for all vehicles as of yet. However, the IIHS calls the GL's soulmate, the Mercedes-Benz ML Class, a Top Safety Pick.
More to the point, the GL has a raft of safety gear that sounds like more luster--and fewer accidents. Along with the usual side curtain airbags and stability control, the GL can be had with parking sensors, a rearview camera and adaptive cruise control. They're standard on the GL550, and we recommend them on the other versions, too, since the big GL has some visibility issues to the rear quarters. Blind-spot detectors are also an option: as the name suggests, they alert the driver with small lights on the mirror, when vehicles are approaching in the blind spots.
The GL also comes standard with PRE-SAFE, which gauges an imminent accident and tightens seatbelts and locks doors before impact.
Mercedes' reputation for safety engineering will have to do, until crash-test scores are in.