In the days before crossovers--what, has it been ten years already?--SUVs wore their hard-edged styling as a badge of honor. Square jaws and rugged fenders never hurt the likes of the Wagoneer, the Suburban, or the Gelaendewagen, that is, until the likes of the Q7, the X5, even Mercedes' own M Class came along.
The Benz GL stands by traditional SUV values, with its oversquare shape and its tough stance. Still, it's one of the few sport-utes that marry the look successfully to an upscale mission--the Range Rover's another. The GL just looks comfortable in its own skin, in a way even the smallest Mercedes GLK crossover does not. The GL's more refined, and more muscular, at the same time, and the proportion of sheetmetal to glass, of walnut to leather to bare metal, works in lockstep to reassure SUV buyers that this ute's as rugged as it can be. Even the big three-pointed star sits perfectly in proportion, though out of context, it has to be as big as the base steel wheels on a 1999 Honda Civic.