It's been a month since I traded my Lexus LS430 sedan for a 2011 GL 450 SUV. I researched the luxury SUV segment for more than 6 months. I ordered it with the P2 option, entertainment center and other luxury options. After 1000 miles, I realize that German engineering is very different from Japanese. The GL is very quiet, roomy and an attention getter. The drivetrain is excellent and smooth. It is awkward getting in and out of the cabin. Sitting high is excellent for urban driving. Overall, I like this vehicle but am still acclimating to MB luxury. It meets my needs for additional seating with a luxury nameplate. As I expected, the gas mileage is consistent with this segment.
The GL was a dream come true for me at the beginning. One owner, 2011 GL450 with a clean carfax and good looking maintenance history. Purchased from an MB dealer in April 2015. On the upside it was incredibly comfortable, fast, elegant, and as capable of hauling 6 adults in comfort to dinner as it was pulling a trailer with 3 tons of rock. When it was right, it was a thing to behold. When it went wrong, as it often did, it was like getting kicked in the gut. In 12 months and 20k miles: Front Airmatic failure: $2,450 to repair Primary and Secondary Battery Failures: $550 to repair Blown underhood fuse panel: $450 to repair. Standard maintenance for the year: $800, and that was skipping the spark plugs due at 60k which would have been another $600. Insult to injury was the depreciation in just one year: close to 40%. It has gone away and I am back to a nice, reliable, Japanese Infiniti. No need for 7 passenger so I also downsized. The only way this truck makes sense is if you can either do the work yourself, or have no worries about significant unexpected repairs. Wanted one for 25 years and after a year with the Benz, I suggest if you want a 7 passenger SUV that can tow, Dave yourself the heart wrenching experience of a GL and buy a GMC Yukon or Lexus LX570.
Turned in 08 for a new 11 and once again very happy. Navigation is improved but still short of Acura/Lexus. Rear Entertainment screens are nicer but placement is horrible. They should have stayin the headrest. DVD in the center counsel is great location and it would be nice to control the DVD playback from the command not just from one of two remotes. It would be nice if the 550 grill and fender flares could be had as in option. The grill is massive and really sets the GL off with out sucking up all that gas like the 550 not that the 450 is any better.
The GL is a mixed bag of the great and not so great. The latter would include the ride quality and road noise, although my car has the 20 inch wheels and runflat tires, which may be worse than the standard 19 inch wheels. I find the seats to be a bit too firm, but then I find most luxury car seats to be too firm. The nav screen is a joke. It's too small, and the lettering is too small. And I can't read it at all when wearing sun glasses. But the guidance to programmed destinations works well. My car has the running boards, which make getting in and out somewhat awkward. They look good though!
We purchased a 2011 GL450 with 77k miles for $27k in Jan '15. So far the car has been reliable with the only repair being a set of front pads & rotors that set us back $600. We've racked up 25k miles and in that time have come to a few conclusions. 1) The build quality is not like MB of years past (we've had a few) where the doors had a tank-like closure and this GL feels comparatively "tinny". Materials are also a point of contention in that a car that had an original MSRP of $75k should come standard with leather seating, not the weird feeling MB Tex that comes standard. 2) The ride, while quiet, is heavy handed and feels unrefined over harsher pavement; poor compression damping would be my best description. 3) The engine's power is adequate, but I feel like another 100hp would be just about perfect. Considering the car lives at 8k ft with high gradient roads, an extra 100hp would offset the lack of O2. 4) Aesthetically, the car's exterior has held up quite nicely and still looks relatively new. The paint and trim all continue to have a high luster. 5) The depreciation on these is astounding and makes it a poor choice to purchase new. Our expectation is to run this car well past 200k miles and it has worked better than expected to date. Understanding repair & maintenance costs will be relatively high, the big MB mostly delivers for its intended purpose; i.e. family hauling and comfortable commuting.