Used 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class GL63 AMG

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2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
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2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

Pros

  • Comfortably seats seven people
  • wickedly quick V8 acceleration
  • thrifty diesel fuel economy
  • beautifully crafted interior
  • smart COMAND interface
  • strong brakes
  • enormous features list.

Cons

  • Options quickly boost price.
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class years
2013

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Edmunds' Expert Review

If you can afford it, any 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class will prove to be a supremely comfortable, spacious, opulent and capable family hauler.

vehicle overview

If you need to transport more than four people and their stuff, it's hard to think of a more desirable vehicle than the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. Its high price may give you pause, but if you can afford this versatile heavy hitter, you'll find it to be an all-season all-star.

In the summer, its legitimate space for seven adults will keep the guys happy when driving to that Las Vegas bachelor party. Come fall, the generous cargo space and the myriad optional entertainment and comfort features will be perfect for that family trip to the Grand Canyon. When snow starts falling in winter, the surprisingly adept handling will be useful while climbing mountain roads to hit the slopes. And in the spring, the rock-solid stability and plush ride will be especially appreciated when traveling through the potholes on rain-soaked roads.

Much of these virtues also applied to last year's GL, which looks similar to this 2013 model. However, this is in fact a virtually all-new and improved GL-Class. It's slightly bigger than before, providing even more space for all aboard, while a newly available power-folding second-row seat makes it easier to get back to the third row. All the engines are new, with the diesel-powered GL350 showcasing impressive fuel economy while the three V8 models boast stunning acceleration. Yes, there are three V8s, which is up one from last year. The culprit is the new GL63 AMG model, which gets beyond the expected eye-popping acceleration with sharper handling and stronger brakes.

Besides bringing the cabin up to the high standards of more recently redesigned Mercedes models, the GL also gets a boat load of new technologies. The latter range from those that are designed to coddle or entertain to those for keeping you awake or in your lane. In other words, the GL gives up little to the flagship S-Class.

Of course, adding those items can quickly make the price skyrocket, while sampling from the Mercedes "designo" catalog of special colors and leathers elevates it further. Meanwhile, there are other appealing choices for a large luxury crossover SUV, including the Infiniti QX, Land Rover Range Rover and Lexus GX 570. But for such a desirable all-season hauler, it's hard to think of a better choice than the new 2013 GL-Class.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class configurations

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class seats seven people and consists of four models -- GL350 Bluetec, GL450, GL550 and GL63 AMG. Each is primarily differentiated by engine.

The GL350 Bluetec and GL450 feature different engines, but are otherwise identically equipped with 19-inch wheels, a self-leveling air suspension, automatic headlights, LED running lamps, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, a sunroof, a rearview camera, power rear quarter windows, rear privacy glass, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power front seats (includes four-way lumbar adjustment), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power-folding third-row seat, MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery and a cargo cover. Electronic features include the COMAND interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Mercedes mbrace2 emergency communications and a premium sound system with a six-CD/DVD changer, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.

The Premium 1 package adds power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a 10-way power driver seat with memory functions, multicolor ambient lighting, a navigation system, voice controls, satellite radio and an iPod interface. The Premium 2 package includes all of the above plus keyless ignition/entry, soft-close power doors, a lockable rear storage compartment and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system. The Lighting package adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights with washers and adaptive high beams. The Parking Assistance package includes a multi-view parking camera, front and rear parking sensors and an automatic parallel parking system. Stand-alone options include three-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, multicontour front seats (includes adjustable bolsters, massage and enhanced lumbar adjustment) and a wood-trimmed steering wheel.

All of the above options come standard on the GL550, which also gets 21-inch wheels and adaptive suspension dampers. The same goes for the GL63 AMG, which gets different 21-inch wheels, sport-tuned air suspension and steering, upgraded brakes, automatically variable stabilizer bars (the Active Curve System, optional on other models), AMG-specific styling elements and a microfiber-trimmed sport steering wheel.

The GL450 and 550 can be equipped with an On-/Off-Road package that includes the adaptive suspension dampers, a six-mode terrain selector and front underbody protection.

There are other options available on all GL models. The Driver Assistance package adds enhanced adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and lane-departure warning systems. Stand-alone items includes a multi-view parking camera, a panoramic sunroof, illuminated running boards, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a power "easy-entry" second-row seat and a dual-screen rear entertainment system.

There are a number of special order options, including a night vision pedestrian warning camera, a heated windshield washer reservoir, rear sunshades, a second row pass-through, an MB-Tex-wrapped lower dashboard, a Bang & Olufsen high-end sound system and numerous special Mercedes "designo" exterior and interior colors.

2013 Highlights

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class has been fully redesigned.

Performance & mpg

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec features a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 that produces 240 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. Like every GL-Class model, it features a seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. In Edmunds performance testing, it went from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, which is on the slow side for a full-size luxury SUV. Importantly, though, EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, which is far superior to other large three-row luxury SUVs.

All other GL-Class models are powered by gasoline engines. The 2013 GL450 gets a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 that produces 362 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. It accelerates from zero to 60 in 6.2 seconds, which is a second quicker than average. Its fuel economy estimates are 14/19/16.

The GL550 gets a more powerful version of the same engine good for 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. It hits 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and returns an estimated 13/18/15.

The GL63 AMG features a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 good for 550 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque. According to Mercedes, it'll go from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds.

Properly equipped, the GL-Class can tow a maximum of 7,500 pounds.

Safety

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control and traction control, active front head restraints, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and a driver attention/drowsiness monitor. The mbrace2 emergency communications system provides automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance and a system that alerts the owner when a pre-selected speed or boundary is exceeded by another driver (say, a teen or valet). Blind-spot and lane-departure warning systems are optional, and actually take preventive action should the driver fail to heed the car's warnings.

In Edmunds brake testing, all non-AMG GL-Class models came to a stop from 60 mph in around 115 feet. This is superb for such a large, heavy vehicle with all-season tires.

Driving

Chances are you've never driven a freight train, but with the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, you'll certainly feel like you've come close. It cruises down the freeway with road-crushing assuredness and stability as you look down upon all the other cars around you. If you're looking for that commanding view of the road, this definitely has it, and it can get even more commanding when you raise the adjustable air suspension.

Surprisingly, the GL is not hopeless around corners. An athlete it's not, but you'll be surprised with the composure and communication it displays should you find yourself on a winding coastal or ski resort road. This goes double for the wild GL63 AMG.

If speed is not of paramount importance, the GL350 Bluetec is without question the model to get. Its torque-rich diesel power plant feels quicker around town than the actual acceleration numbers suggest, while its fuel economy and range are substantially superior to its gasoline-powered siblings. However, if it's power you want, those V8s deliver shocking acceleration considering how huge and heavy they are.

Interior

There are few cars that would be better suited to taking a long family road trip than the Mercedes GL-Class. Even the third-row seats are spacious enough to accommodate adults, while the available power easy-entry second-row seats make it incredibly easy to get back there. There's even a decent amount of cargo room left over with all seats in place. To keep everyone happy back there, there are a huge number of comfort and convenience features, like heated seats, dual-screen entertainment and a panoramic sunroof. As for mom and dad up front, they will enjoy comfortable, supportive seats that only get better when you check the option boxes for ventilation and massage.

In terms of build and materials quality, the GL lives up to the lofty Mercedes standard of excellence. Even the base car's MB-Tex vinyl upholstery looks and feels like real leather, while actually breathing better and being easier to clean. The actual leather is beautifully supple, though, and available in a wide variety of hues thanks to Mercedes' designo customization program. Very little separates the GL-Class from the flagship S-Class in terms of available opulence.

The same could be said for its myriad electronics systems. Controlling most of them is Mercedes' excellent COMAND system that consists of a central color screen, dashboard buttons, steering wheel controls and the multifunction COMAND knob. Like all such electronics interfaces, it can be a little complicated at first, but it works very well at accomplishing both simple and more complex tasks.

With both the second- and third-row seats lowered, the GL can carry up to 93.8 cubic feet of cargo, a fairly generous amount for this class of SUV.


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Features & Specs

MPG
13 city / 17 hwy
Seats 7
7-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
550 hp @ 5250 rpm
See all Used 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class GL63 AMG features & specs
More about the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
More About This Model

If you grew up as an auto enthusiast, with sports cars cobbled together on shoestring budgets and amateur pride, Mom's car was a safe place. While your car was up on jack stands, Mom's car was sitting on four properly filled tires. While your car was out of commission waiting for parts you really couldn't afford, Mom's car started up every time.

Mom's car was always full of gas, quiet, comfortable. Mom's car was also slow, conservative and downright shameful if you were caught behind the wheel.

Your mom was not driving the 362-horsepower 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450.

Whisper-quiet, immaculately built and powered by a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8, the all-new GL450 is the ultimate expression of the family SUV. Well, for families who can pony up $64,805 to get in the door, that is.

Designo — Italian for German Luxury
Unless you're a certified Mercedes-ophile, the 2013 GL may not even be a blip on your radar. But the biggest of Benz haulers has received a significant redesign for the 2013 model year that saw the GL grow marginally in all dimensions. The result of this stretch means that all rows of seats (2-3-2 now) have more head-, shoulder and elbow room. A new dashboard and instrument cluster now more closely mimic those in the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup and includes a 4.5-inch color display between the dials. The 2013 GLs are also armed with a range of new or heavily reengineered motors; two are direct-injection turbocharged V8s and one is a diesel V6 with 406 pound-feet of torque.

But the most striking thing about the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 is the newly revamped interior, especially when it's equipped with one of Mercedes' optional Designo upgrade packages like our test vehicle. The $4,800 Designo Porcelain Leather package adds the nicest quilted leather and real wood this side of a Bentley. That's not hyperbole; the leather and woodwork are unmatched and the leather goes back all three rows. Sure, $4,800 is a tough pill to swallow, but this option package looks, and feels, like a deal at that price.

Beyond the slick white leather, the 2013 GL450 is decked out with traditional German understatement. Black leather is dotted with white contrast stitching, while vital interfaces — nav, shifter, climate, instrument panel — are outlined in satin-chrome trim that draws the eye. It's the subtle kind of luxury you hardly notice. Think IWC, not Hublot.

Power Tripping
Few things eat miles the way a full-size SUV can, and few full-size SUVs can eat miles with the ease and confidence of the GL450. The big Merc glides at freeway speeds with the spooky quietness of an abandoned carnival at night. A thud here, a whoosh there; but never a distinct, relatable sound from a known source. At 50, 80 or 100 mph, it all feels the same.

The downside to the GL450's 5,875 pounds of road-hugging mass and 4.7-liter V8 is the truck's limited range. Going by the EPA's best guess, the GL450 should be good for 380 miles on its 26.4-gallon tank, but we only managed a max of 270.

Part of the problem was that we never hit the EPA's 19-mpg highway rating on freeway drives or the 14-mpg city rating in urban driving. Our combined fuel economy was 13.3 mpg, with a low of 11.6 and a high of 16.4.

Such is the price of business in the seven-seat, V8 luxury SUV world.

Taking the "S" out of SUV
The "Sport" part of the SUV moniker means different things to different people, but unless you define it as watching ESPN, the GL doesn't fit the bill.

All of the controls are light to the touch. A strong breeze through the window could move the steering wheel, while a misplaced sneeze might activate the brakes. The upside is that the brakes are remarkably well sorted. The long travel prevents sketchiness in the rare off-road or towing situation, and at full ABS they're capable of reeling this beast from 60 in only 113 feet.

This is especially good, as the all-wheel-drive GL450 can get from zero to 60 in 6.2 seconds (5.9 with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and crosses the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 96.9 mph — roughly the same speed as that sports car we built back in the mid-'90s.

All of the straight-line goodness is cancelled out by the GL's inability to behave like anything resembling a reasonable driver's vehicle. With the exception, perhaps, of the Mercedes-Benz G550, the GL450 has the most intrusive and paranoid stability control system in memory.

Out in the real world, it dabs the brakes on wet pavement, on sharp corners at normal speeds and over broken pavement. On the test track, the electronics fought us on the way to a 57.8-mph slalom speed and a 0.74g performance on the skid pad, the 20-inch Pirelli tires never getting the chance to squeal.

Our test-driver didn't hold back on the slalom performance. "The only positive to come out of this ridiculous exercise is that it teaches you to be super-smooth, because any show of aggression with the steering wheel and the GL immediately stabs the brakes, despite the fact that it isn't even close to reaching its grip limit. This is pathetic." In the same vein, the brake-throttle override is overdone, so left-foot brakers will have to adjust their driving to suit this vehicle.

Most GL owners won't even notice, but the level of intervention here is far too high and too frequent to ignore.

The Big "U"
Like "Sport," "Utility" is a loaded word in today's automotive landscape. The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 is not a parts hauler or a farm hand; the carpeting in the rear of this SUV is nicer than the stuff in most homes. It is, however, huge and the automatic fold-flat seats couldn't be easier to use.

With all of the seats folded, the GL is the protector of 93.8 cubic feet of flat storage space complete with tie-downs, which should be more than enough for that new whatever from Restoration Hardware. Fold just the third row and you're down to 49.4 cubic feet. With the third row in full effect, there are 16 cubic feet of space to play with.

Unlike with most SUVs these days, this last figure isn't just some number thrown in to fill out a spec chart. The 2013 GL is a true seven-seater with a functional, usable third row that even adults can tolerate for extended periods of time. The $400 Power Easy-Entry option automatically slides the first and second rows to allow non-gymnasts to ride in the way back.

Rounding out the "U" part of the acronym, our GL450 was equipped with the On-/Off-Road Package that lumps together a two-speed transfer case and a six-mode driving program selector similar to the terrain selector found in Land Rovers. This $1,800 option requires the addition of the $1,050 adaptive damping system and lets you increase ground clearance by a full 4 inches. Thankfully it also adds a front skid plate.

In practice, it works better than necessary given the way the GL will likely be used by its owners. The electronics that so hampered us on the road turn mild/medium off-roading into a drive in the park. Just point it roughly in the correct direction and the adjustable suspension, sophisticated electronics and low-range capability will get you safely to that lakeside cabin you've got with running water, WiFi and satellite TV.

The Rest of the Family
There are two other members of the GL family that also received upgrades for 2013. With its $63,505 price tag, the GL350 is the base model of the GL line. The GL350 comes with all of the same goodies as the 450, but swaps out the 4.7-liter gasoline engine for a 240-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 twisting out a totally adequate 455 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates this package at 17 city and 21 highway mpg, 3 mpg better all-around than our 450.

In practice, the diesel is only marginally more efficient than the 450, returning 16.9 mpg in notoriously fuel-sucking L.A. traffic. Unsurprisingly, the diesel gets fully trounced by the 450 in all measurable performance tests. Zero to 60 mph takes 8.4 seconds (8.0 with rollout), with the quarter passing in 16.2 seconds at 84.8 mph. Braking is similar at 118 feet and handling suffers the same fate as the 450, with a 57.9-mph performance in the slalom and a 0.74g lap around the skid pad.

If those kinds of numbers matter to you, there's always the GL550. It's even more expensive ($87,805 base) and its 429-hp, 4.7-liter V8 is even thirstier. While the other two GLs we tested rode on puny 20-inch wheels, the GL550 sits atop 21s wrapped in meaty 295/40 series Pirelli Scorpion Zeros, yet somehow weighs a full 162 pounds less than the 450. You don't need to be an engineer to know that this means a faster SUV. Sure enough, it'll spring from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds (5.1 with rollout) and blow through the quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds at 103.1 mph.

The 2013 GL450 is the middle child and arguably the most well-rounded of the three. Factor in base price and the constantly fluctuating cost of diesel and the 450 is the one to have.

Seven-Seat S-Class
Thinking of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 as an SUV will quickly make budget-minded buyers spin with rage and curse the 1 percent. Instead, try to think of the GL as a hatchback, seven-seat luxury car that just happens to have all-wheel drive and enough ground clearance to clear a parking curb.

Sure, the new GL isn't as long as an S-Class, but the build quality and the comfort are there. The road manners and isolation are there, too, with the big SUV swaddling the driver and all rows of passengers in cocoons of soft leather and perfectly machined trim. We haven't seen this kind of luxury in mass transit since the Pullman sleeper car.

The trouble, then, comes down to perception. Pull up to the valet or the golf course in an S-Class and you've arrived. In the GL, you're merely showing up.

It's Mom's car all over again, but now we get it.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Used 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class GL63 AMG Overview

The Used 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class GL63 AMG is offered in the following styles: GL63 AMG 4dr SUV AWD (5.5L 8cyl Turbo 7A).

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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Mercedes-Benz lease specials
Check out Mercedes-Benz GL-Class lease specials