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2015 Mercedes-Benz GL450 4MATIC Review By Steve Purdy


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2015 Mercedes-Benz GL450 4MATIC

2015 Mercedes-Benz GL450 4MATIC Review

By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau


We needed a large vehicle to transport 4 of us home from the airport from a 3-week overseas trip, so we asked our press fleet coordinator to arrange my weekly test car accordingly. He sure came through with this one. The Mercedes-Benz GL450 4Matic proved ideal for a variety of reasons.

First, this 7-passenger, large car-based SUV had more than enough room for us, and our cargo in spite of some over-packing on our part. We arrived in the middle of the night after close to 24 hours of traveling, including adjusting for a canceled flight at JFK in New York. The first challenge was to fold the third-row seat in the darkness of the commuter lot at the airport. After a short struggle to figure it out I spotted the power fold seat buttons and, presto, it was ready for cargo. We could have loaded twice the number of bags if we needed to.

Second, and equally as important, is the lap of luxury we found ourselves in as we headed out on the one-hour plus drive home, adding a little extra time for an annoying detour necessitated by a freeway construction project causing a total shutdown of one side for middle-of-the-night construction. Having spent so many hours in the cramped and awkward seats of two airplanes these Mercedes seats felt heavenly. The surprising quiet and comfort put everyone into napping mode – except the driver, of course.

Our trip was a European river cruise, which meant I had not been behind the wheel of any vehicle for nearly three weeks. I don’t think that has happened since I got my driver’s license 50 years ago. As one who drives for fun and work I must admit I was craving the experience. My pleas to the occasional tour bus driver to let me take the wheel for a few miles were generally met with derision. Having this wonderful Mercedes-Benz CUV as the first experience after such a dry spell was certainly special.

The GL-Class, all-wheel drive, three-row crossover may be best in class. It has one of the most generous third row seats where even average size adults would be reasonably comfortable. Most, with the exception of the GM truck-based utes, have only enough room for small people or pets back there. Cargo capacity is among the most generous as well with 93.8 cubic feet with 2nd and 3rd row seatbacks are folded.

Exterior design leaves no question of the GL’s brand identity. Its boxy overall shape is broken up with distinctive character lines along the side angled upward toward the rear for a dynamic look. Narrow perforated running boards offer more style than usefulness. The large grill with MB star in the center, complex headlight bezels and blacked out air intake offer a stylish but not particularly bold front view. Large, rectangular, chrome exhaust outlets dominate the rear view. Alloy 19-inch wheels are shod with all weather tires. A 20-inch or larger option would be nice from an aesthetic point of view.

Inside we find flat finish real wood along with plenty of fine materials and a design that is conventional and not too complex. Controls for the front seats are mounted conveniently on the upper door panel. Many of the controls, not just those in the multi-function screen, can be a bit complex and less than fully intuitive so some patience is required to figure it all out. For example, I found it cumbersome to get my navigation map to cover the entire screen without POIs encroaching. Mercedes-Benz and their German competitors take pride in complexity – I sometimes think.

This V6 engine, is new for 2015 and offers more power than the V8 it replaces. It is a 3.0-liter with two turbochargers making a decent 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. That is good, they say, for a 0-to-60 time of 6.6 seconds – not bad for an over 5,300 pound vehicle. The EPA rates this combination at 17 mpg in the city, 21 on the highway and 19 mpg combined using premium fuel. With a 26.4-gallon fuel tank we have over 450-mile cruising range.

The GL450 comes standard with slick M-B 4Matic all-wheel drive, a full-time automatic system that is always at the ready to send torque to whichever corner of the car needs it, and all four wheels if that is most efficient.

Safety features go beyond what we normally think of with 11 airbags, electronic risk mitigation systems like an attention measurement and warning program and another that not only warns of lane wandering but gently pushes you back into your own lane.

Towing capacity, when properly equipped, is around 7,500 pounds so it will pull a good size boat, horse or travel trailer.

The GL450 4Matic shows a base price of $65,200. Our test vehicle is loaded with most of the 10 optional packages available adding up to over $20,000. Our bottom line on the sticker shows $87,860. It comes in four distinct models defined by powertrain including a BlueTec Diesel, this V6, a V8 version and a high-performance AMG version.

Mercedes-Benz new car warranty covers the entire vehicle, including the powertrain for 4 years or 50,000 miles.

At the risk of sounding a bit gushy I’ll say this luxury SUV/CUV is easily one of the best I’ve driven. The fully independent suspension is perfectly tuned for a comfortable ride, the ergonomics make the car feel like the top quality vehicle you expect from Mercedes-Benz, and it is quiet as a tomb going down the road at extra-legal speeds even on coarse surfaces. While it breaks no new ground in terms of style or design it meets the highest expectation of quality and engineering.

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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