Interior / Exterior » 9
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STYLING | 9 out of 10
a work of sculpted muscularity
unique front-end experience
all kinds of manly with broad-shouldered looks
Car and Driver
most controls are logically placed...some have cryptic markings
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.The interiors of all the American-made Mercedes SUVs (GL, ML, and R Classes) have gained luster and better looks in the past five or six years, and the GL has the best-looking cabin of the three Alabama-built utes. The GL-Class strikes a better balance of lines, textures, and forms than does the more pedestrian R-Class. There's plenty of wood trim all around, even on the diesel where it's now standard. The bulging pair of vents at the top of the center stack give some relief to the rectilinear shapes, and everything's covered in leather or high-quality plastic or convincing metallic trim.
The Mercedes-Benz GL channels its G-wagen ancestors for a sharply creased, very handsome look.