While SUV sales are down, big, luxury SUVs continue to sell quite well. Glitzy huge utes from Cadillac and Lincoln are as common as Saks credit cards. And now Mercedes-Benz is vying for a piece of the full-size luxury SUV market with this 2007 GL-Class. This is the largest Mercedes sport-ute so far, but this new Benz has a lot more going for it than just size. 

It’s been a long time coming, but the 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL 450 finally launches Germany’s premier luxury automaker into the full-size SUV segment. And with a 200.3-inch overall length and three rows of seating for seven, there’s no mistaking this big new Benz for the smaller M-Class, or sleeker R-Class, with which it shares basic components and Alabama assembly line.

The GL also shares some of the modern aggressive look of the M-Class in the bolder grille and power-dome hood. Still its tall, slab-sided body above a long 121.1-inch wheelbase and 18-inch or optional 19-inch aluminum wheels gives the GL a look that stands alone.

Power for the GL 450 is a new 4.6-liter double-overhead-cam V8. Output is 335 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque, and it features both variable valve timing and a 2-stage intake manifold. This tiny column-mounted stalk controls the GL’s 7-speed automatic transmission. But steering wheel buttons also allow for Touch Shift manual gear change when you feel so inclined.

Like the M and R-Class, four-wheels are driven through a seamless 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. The system features three open differentials with four-wheel traction control to limit slip. An optional off-road package adds a low-range transfer case for more serious go-anywhere capabilities. Additional all-terrain prowess comes from Downhill Speed Regulation and Hill-Start Assist. The GL 450 also has serious tow-ability, with a maximum trailer capacity of 7,500 pounds.

But all that power only earns a 14 city/18 highway EPA fuel mileage rating. That translates into about 16 miles per premium gallon in everyday driving. And plenty of reserve power, delivering a very spirited 0 to 60 time of 6.5-seconds, and a quarter mile time of 14.9-seconds at 96 miles-per-hour.

This big Benz launches smoothly, with a more aggressive exhaust note than most Mercedes powerplants. The GL’s unit frame is supported by a standard Airmatic double-wishbone front and 4-link rear independent suspension, with available adaptive damping to custom tailor shock rebound rates. But even without adaptive damping, we found the GL’s cornering reactions to be very responsive with much less front push and obvious weight transfer than most big sport-utes.

There’s plenty of rear end grip too, no doubt aided by electronic stability control. And the speed-sensitive steering is quite quick for a bit ute, however typically also without much feedback.

Brakes are 4-wheel discs with standard ABS and Brake Assist Plus. They stopped the 5,249-pound GL in a good average distance of 127 feet from 60. The underpinnings are rock solid, with moderate nose dive and a rather soft brake pedal.

As you might expect from any big-Benz, ride quality is way above average. The GL does hop a bit on mid-corner bumps, and even straight rides border on floating. Still the GL 450 delivers a solid luxury machine feel.

Of course once inside the GL’s 7-place cabin, there’s no doubt that this is a premium luxury SUV. The superbly equipped space is big and airy, with trim adding a surprisingly sporty flavor that’s closer to AMG than GMC. Highlights include Birds-eye Maple trim, broad, heated leather seats, and large, clear gauges. Cabin comfort comes from 2-zone automatic climate with a 3-zone rear system available. The standard COMAND system controls an 80-watt audio system, upgradable to Harmon/Kardon Logic 7 surround sound, and DVD navigation with voice control.

Rear seat entertainment options include a DVD system with not one but two screens on the front seat head rests. The big rear cabin means big comfort, with lots of room to stretch out. Second row seat heat is available.

The power folding third row seats are easier to access than many other full-size utilities, and there’s enough head and leg room for bigger kids. Fold all the seats, and the GL holds a big 83.3 cubic feet.

Big also describes the GL 450 prices, starting at $54,675. Dig into the healthy list of options, and you can quickly be pushing the $70,000 mark. A GL 320 BlueTec clean diesel will join the lineup this fall.

The 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL450 is a premium size vehicle that clearly balances its premium pricing with premium equipment and performance. Plus, along with its M and R-Class relatives, provides Mercedes buyers with three distinct choices in larger people movers. And that’s the well rounded approach to premium luxury utilities that we expect from Mercedes-Benz.



  • Engine: 4.6-Liter Double-overhead-cam V8
  • Horsepower: 335
  • Torque: 339 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 6.5 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.9 Seconds @ 96 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 127 Feet
  • EPA: 14 MPG City/ 18 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 16 MPG