2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 First Drive
By admin On 13 Aug, 2012 At 05:03 AM | Categorized As Driving, Photo | With 0 Comments

It’s a wonder luxury SUVs survived the mass extinction event of the 2007-2009 recession at all. As investment accounts withered on the vine and fuel prices comfortably boiled past the underside of $5.00 per gallon in some places, chicken-little minded Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator owners couldn’t have tossed their keys any quicker if you’d told them the fobs were hewn from chunks of raw BPA by pro-choice Iraqi gay-rights activists. Those shining symbols of status and accomplishment transmuted into social millstones overnight, and used car lots quickly piled up with row after row of models boasting 22-inch wheels and seating for seven.

But the full-size luxury SUV and its brethren didn’t vanish from the face of the Earth. Far from it. Clever product planners and marketing managers quickly worked to repackage everything buyers loved about their oil-field-sucking family haulers into new, modestly more efficient and socially acceptable packages. Thus began the reign of the crossover. Mercedes-Benz became something of an artisan in this field, and its efforts have been well rewarded. Last year, the company sold more light trucks alone than it did all of its models combined in 2005.

At the top of that high-riding food chain is the GL-Class. The mammoth utility services the company’s youngest average buyer at 48 years old and recently eclipsed the aforementioned Escalade as the most popular full-size luxury SUV in the States. For 2013, the GL has grown in every measurable dimension, offers subtly more fuel-efficient drivetrain options and a rash of standard and available technology, all supported by a miracle-working air-ride suspension. The changes are enough to put the GL that much farther ahead of the ancient Cadillac, but the recipe isn’t perfect.

The GL-Class serves up design elements lifted from siblings like the ever-attractive CLS.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the GL450 soaks up a full 60 percent of total GL-Class purchases, with the remainder divvied equally between the GL350 Bluetec and GL550. As such, we spent the majority of our time with the volume bruiser. All told, engineers stretched the second-generation SUV by one inch fore and aft as well as side to side. The 2013 model also sits half an inch taller than its predecessor, though designers have done a smart job of disguising the machine’s considerable heft. Up front, the GL450 wears a familiar interpretation of the automaker’s vertical front fascia.

The two-bar grille is dominated by a Silver Arrow emblem roughly large enough to signal neighboring galaxies, and a mesh lower grille and chrome faux skid plate treatment help break up the front valance nicely.

LED daytime running lights are tucked into the lower bumper while projector-beam headlamp arrays sweep discretely into the front fenders. Step to the vehicle’s side and the 2013 GL-Class serves up additional design elements lifted from siblings like the ever-attractive CLS. With a bold body line situated just below the door handles and an aggressive up-kick in the rear flank, the GL avoids any threat of being slab-sided. Blacked-out B and C pillars give the SUV’s greenhouse a flying canopy, while a forward-canted D pillar offers up a few sharp angles juxtaposed to the hauler’s otherwise organic lines. Splashes of chrome from the roof rails and window trim help add a little flare, as do the brushed-metal of the running boards.

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