It had been planned as the replacement for the military-ready Gelaendewagen, but when 2007 rolled around, Mercedes-Benz decided to keep that domesticated G-Class-and instead, pitched the newly developed GL-Class SUV as a more luxurious family vehicle with surprising off-road capabilities.
Smart move: The GL-Class is among the best seven-seat SUVs on the market, starting with its crisp styling. In a niche filled with hard-edged off-road athletes, the GL-Class stands tall, with muscular but refined looks and a well-crafted interior.
We like its fuss-free side view, the balanced two-box proportions, and even the big three-pointed star up front (it's almost the size of an old Honda Civic wheel). For 2010, Mercedes updates the look with new bumpers and grille, daytime running lights, and new fog lamps; newly styled wheels ranging from 19 to 21 inches are on the roster, too.
The cabin's a fine workplace, and while the mechanically similar R-Class seems more pedestrian, the GL-Class strikes a better balance of lines, textures, and forms. There's plenty of wood trim all around, a bulging pair of vents atop the center stack, and a more rectilinear theme that distances it from the R-Class, in a good way.
This year, all GLs get new gauges and a new steering wheel; diesel models also get standard walnut trim.
Detroit News: "classic luxury SUV lines"
Cars.com: "a work of sculpted muscularity"
Car and Driver: "more conservative, with a tall, broad profile"
ConsumerGuide: "unique front-end experience"
The Detroit News: "rugged-looking"
ConsumerGuide: "most controls are logically placed...some have cryptic markings"
Car and Driver: "the controls are mostly familiar"