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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
“The new diesel six-cylinder performs like most diesels of its kind: burly and full of grunt early on”
turbodiesel V-6 never feels underpowered”
[GL320s are the] most efficient non-hybrid luxury crossovers on earth
Car and Driver
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class combines the capabilities of an all-terrain SUV with the power, ride, and handling of a luxury sedan, and it's overall one of the best-performing plus-sized SUVs.
Of the three engines available in the 2009 GL-Class, ConsumerAutoGuide.com says, “Both V8s deliver effortless thrust, and while the GL550 has more punch, the GL450 is plenty strong for any task.” They also note, “The 320 BlueTEC can feel slightly lethargic off the line, and some testers want quicker highway passing response, but its turbodiesel V-6 never feels underpowered.” Cars.com comments, “The new diesel six-cylinder performs like most diesels of its kind: burly and full of grunt early on, but loathe to produce much more power when you rev high.”
Edmunds.com observes that the GL320 "isn't nearly as quick as the GL 450," but it "provides massive low-end response and superior fuel mileage versus its gasoline counterparts,” and Car and Driver calls the turbodiesel "an impressive powerplant." Edmunds.com also thinks that in the 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, the GL550 “has the power to nip at the heels of more sporting luxury utes like the Range Rover Supercharged."
Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the GL’s transmission. Cars.com says, "Gear hunting is minimal...shorter ratios for each gear allow quick, confident bursts of power." Car and Driver puts it "at the top of the charts for seamless operation." All models are capable of towing up to 7,500 pounds. All 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class models are equipped with seven-speed automatics and the Mercedes 4MATIC full-time four-wheel-drive system.
Handling is very well balanced; the air suspension is damped with ride comfort in mind, but the Mercedes-Benz 2009 GL-Class still steers with precision and has strong brakes. A little less rocking motion side to side would improve on the good on- and off-road manners, though. Kelley Blue Book says, "Mercedes-Benz builds the GL-class using a unitized body and chassis. This offers...less weight, a lower canter of gravity, and...a more car-like ride." Steering performance is good: "The steering wheel's precise turn-in makes curvy roads a pleasure to drive," reports Cars.com, and "at 39.7 feet, the GL's turning circle is competitive with its peers."
All models are equipped with air suspension that balances load forces, while the off-road package employs additional active damping. Conversely for Mercedes-Benz, 2009’s top-line GL550 is equipped with low-profile tires that Cars.com says give it a "brittle ride quality [in that] you'll hear and feel every highway expansion joint, while potholes and speed bumps become a jarring, noisy experience." Available for the 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL450 is an off-road package that can, according to Cars.com, "raise the air suspension to yield 12 inches of ground clearance–[two more] than a HUMMER H2's." Car and Driver feels the GL "ride quality is creamy, surprisingly so for a vehicle that's extraordinarily responsive by large-SUV standards."
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class utes accelerate and handle surprisingly well, and the diesel GL320 offers relatively good fuel economy.