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FEATURES | 9 out of 10
For those who napped during driver’s ed, automatic parking can be had.
Car and Driver
It pairs easily with phones and never failed to provide us directions, even when we ventured onto dirt trails near the Rio Grande.
Even at the lowest level, the GL has multiple luxury features, including a rearview camera, a power liftgate, eight-way power front seats, a power sunroof and a 4.5-inch color instrument display.
The seven-inch LCD screen lacks a touch interface, and the old console-mounted dial-and-button system can be clunky and distracting. Menu options are far from intuitive and the navigation renderings look lifted straight from 2005.
Mercedes leaves few rocks and boulders unturned in filling the 2013 GL Class with standard equipment.
Even the base GL 350 BlueTEC--by a small margin, the least-expensive model you can buy--comes with a hefty dose of gear. Among it are features like power windows, locks, and mirrors; automatic climate control; heated power front seats; a power sunroof and a power tailgate; power third-row seats; an AM/FM/DVD changer with HD radio; the COMAND interface; Bluetooth; and an MB-Tex leatherette interior.
The base GL also comes with mbrace2, Mercedes' connectivity suite, which links smartphones and mobile apps to the vehicle's infotainment system. Mbrace2 displays via the GL's seven-inch LCD screen, and includes features like custom speed alerts, geofencing, and the ability to search Google, Yelp!, and get Facebook updates while on the go.
While mbrace2 is a welcome step into the connectivity of the car's future, the COMAND system's a reminder that other brands are doing infotainment better. The roller-controller school of thought that includes COMAND, MMI, and iDrive now seems outdated with the arrival of Cadillac's CUE touchscreen, and COMAND's bigger displays and rotating controls are just kludgier to use. It's packed with usability--it can control all the radio bands, the DVD changer, even the settings of the massaging seats from "slow" to "fast and vigorous"--but it can take multiple spins of the wheel to reach the intended command. And sometimes it's roulette, in terms of finding the right menu to accomplish the right task.
Options include a $3,500 package that bundles satellite radio; an iPod interface; satellite radio; navigation; ambient lighting; a power tilt/telescoping steering column; and auto-dimming mirrors. Another package adds Harman/Kardon surround sound, pushbutton start, and soft-close doors. Safety packages add features like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors, as well as active park assist. Major stand-alone options include the active-curve suspension at $3,950; ventilated front seats for $570; massaging front seats for $1,100; a trailer hitch for $550; a panoramic sunroof for $1090; a power second-row seat for $400; and heated rear seats for $620.
The GL450 is configured in largely the same way, though some new options are offered. A surround-view camera comes with its active park-assist package, and an off-road package is available for $2,850. On both, a Bang & Olufsen audio system is a pricey option, at $6,800, and more exotic selections of wood and leather can lift the price even more.
The GL550 is, for now, the most luxuriously equipped version. Almost all the features mentioned are standard; the options are limited to the off-road package; the parking-assist package; panoramic sunroof; rear-seat entertainment system; power-folding second-row seat; heated rear seats; adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist; and the Bang & Olufsen audio system, which sounds amazingly rich, but taxes the brain, as it's easy to load up any GL Class to more than $90,000.
Power second-row seats, mobile-app connectivity, and designer leather interiors push the GL's stiff pricetag to near $100,000.