MERCEDES BENZ GL-Klasse
Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
The biggest SUV from the German car-maker was the equivalent of the S-Class for the SUV market.
It’s up to seven seats and the high level of comfort made it a good alternative for the brand’s flagship.
The first generation of the GL was launched in 2006 and it was based on the ML-Class platform. It was mainly built for the North-American market. In Europe, its sales were very low, especially after the world economic crisis stroke in 2008. In its last full production year, it managed to sell a mere 2508 units on the European continent, while in the US the worst year was in 2009 with 15.012 units.
The second generation started in 2012 with a complete revamp for the exterior look. It featured the new frontal fascia, sculptured doors, and V-shaped turn-signals on the door-mirrors. Even so, the sales didn’t come even close to the U.S. market. Its big size made it hard to use it inside European cities.
Inside, the 2-3-2 seating arrangement provided more room than its predecessor, offering more elbow, shoulder, and headroom for all three rows of seats. The dashboard was covered in ARTICO man-made leather. Inside the instrument cluster, a new 4.8” TFT display offered information from the on-board computer, the COMMAND infotainment unit, or from the navigation system.
In the European market, the 3.0-liter diesel engine was the most favored version, while for the U.S. market the gasoline units were on top of its customer’s list. Like the S-Class, the GL was available exclusively with a 7-speed automatic gearbox (7G-Tronic).
Mercedes-Benz refreshed the GL range in late 2009, improving the car’s comfortable ride and introducing an upgraded turbo-diesel engine.
The world financial crisis was not over yet when the German carmaker introduced a refreshed version for its luxurious SUV, the GL. Unlike its main U.S. competitors, it featured a unibody construction instead of the body-on-frame system used by Cadillac for the Escalade or by Lincoln for the Navigator. On top of that, the GL provided a turbo-diesel engine that ensured a 600 mile (965 km) range on a tank.
With a refreshed design and triangular headlights, the GL provided a commanding view of the road. Its chiseled front fenders and flared wheel-arches created the image of a go-anywhere vehicle, and that was very close to reality. Mercedes-Benz built the GL with a short front overhang and a raised rear one to go through trails and tracks without tearing its bodywork. Moreover, the carmaker offered an off-road package that added metallic underbody shields, while the standard version sported plastic covers underneath the bodywork.
Inside, the German carmaker installed a seven-seat interior in a 2-3-2 configuration. At the front, the dashboard featured an instrument cluster with two large dials for the speedometer and tachometer and an LCD between them. The fuel and coolant temperature gauges were placed in the main dials. With a set of two comfortable and wide seats at the front and a bench for three in the middle row, and two seats in the trunk area, the GL proved that a luxury vehicle could be helpful as a people carrier. Its trunk could hold up to 2,356 liters (83.3 cu-ft).
Under the hood, besides the two gasoline V-8 engines, the carmaker introduced a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6, which used AdBlue to lower the emissions. That made it legal in 50 states across the U.S.
The Mercedes-Benz GL-Klasse was first introduced by the German car maker at the 2006 North American International Auto Show.
The GL was designed and intended primarily for the American market, where demand was high for big SUVs at the time. The model addresses the market segment that desire a large, luxurious and spacious 7-seater SUV. Mercedes-Benz wanted to offer a large SUV that would be excellent to drive both on and off road, so they fitted the GL with standard Adaptive Damping System (ADS), while the AIRMATIC system raises the vehicle’s ground clearance to 307 mm.