Exterior styling is bolder, with crisper and more angular lines than current GL models. The restyling is subtle, with the biggest changes evident in the new look of the GL’s front-end. It’s a more contemporary design, yet the new GL will be instantly familiar to current owners.
The model range begins with the GL350 BlueTEC 4Matic, which gets its power from a 3.0-liter turbodiesel good for 240 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. Next up is the best-selling GL450, which gets a revised, gasoline-fueled, 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8 now rated at 362 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.
Atop the range is the GL550, which uses the same 4.7-liter V-8 as its midrange brother, but with output boosted to 429 horsepower and 516 pound feet of torque. Compared to the 2012 GL550, that’s a gain of 47 horsepower, but an even more impressive gain of 125 pound-feet of torque.
All new GL models benefit from significant weight reduction and efficiency improvements, too. Aluminum is used for the hood, front fenders and suspension links, and the transverse mount supporting the dash is magnesium. A new seven-speed transmission, electric power steering and intelligent alternator management also help increase fuel economy.
The 2013 GL series comes with substantial safety improvements as well. Standard equipment now includes Collision Prevention Assist, which warns drivers of an impending collision and prepares Brake Assist for the shortest stopping distance; Attention Assist, which combats drowsy driving and Crosswind Stabilization, which makes the GL easier to manage in strong crosswinds.
Inside, there’s room for seven in a revised 2-3-2 arrangement. Mercedes says that passengers will benefit from increased shoulder, elbow and headroom in all three models, and a powered third row seat is now standard across the model range. Mercedes is now offering an optional “Easy Entry” system for third row occupants, too.
Expect plenty of comfort in the new GL, which Mercedes says offers noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels on par with its flagship S Class. While ideally suited to long-distance highway cruising, GL450 and GL550 models can be equipped with an On and Off Road package for multi-terrain capability, although we’d avoid choosing the GL for serious off-roading.
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL Class goes on sale this fall, with pricing to be announced closer to the SUV’s launch.
We’ll bring you live images of the new GL as part of our comprehensive 2012 New York Auto Show coverage.