The History and Evolution of the Mercedes GL Class

Mercedes-Benz launched its GL Class in 2006 with the first production models rolling off the lines from 2006 through the present. The GL class is a luxury SUV in full size. These models feature three rows of seats with room enough for 7 passengers. It came in as a notch above the GLE class and became Mercedes-Benz’ flagship in their SUV lines. the majority of these cars are made at the Mercedes-enz US International, Inc, site in Tuscaloosa Alabama with the exception of very few that were made at the manufacturing plant in Germany.

The first generation

The first generation of the Mercedes-Benz GL SUV was the X164. This model was produced from 2006 through 2012. It debuted at the North American International Auto Show in 2006 just prior to its release for sale to the public. The design of the early model was intended mostly for the market in the United States where analysts discovered that there was a huge demand for large SUVs. The Mercedes-Benz design team crafted a large vehicle that offered luxury features for both on and off-road use. It was equipped with a standard Adaptive Dampening system along with the AIRMATIC system that would increase the clearance of the vehicle to 307 mm for off-road situations.

The first generation was powered with a 450 4Matic 8 cylinder engine that generated 340 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque. It reached a top speed of 146 mph and was no slouch when it comes to power. Testing revealed an acceleration rate from zero to 62 mph of 7.2 seconds which is not bad for a large SUV. This was thanks to the multipoint fuel injection system. The only real drawback is the fact that its fuel consumption ratings placed it at roughly 12.8 mpg city and 17.7 highway. It was also available in a 500 4Matic 7AT with 388 horses and an assortment of 5 diesel engines which included the 320 CDI 4MATIC 7AT with 224 hp, the 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY 4MATIC 7AT at 265 horsepower, the 350 CDI BlueTec 4MATIC 7AT with 211 horses, the 420 CDI 4MATIC 7AT with 306 hp and the 450 CDI 5MATIC 7AT also at 306 hp.

The first generation GL sold 18,776 units in 2006 then saw a peak of 26,396 sales in 2007 with a gradual dropoff to 23,328 in 2008 and in 2009, an all-time low of 15,012. This signaled that it was time for a replacement.

Mercedes Benz GL upgrades and facelifts

The GL received an aesthetically pleasing update in 2010. The exhaust pipes, headlights, and taillights were all revitalized with a fresh new look. The bumpers got a few rows of LED daytime running lights and a new set of alloy wheels that bumped the look from casual to casual dressy. They didn’t forget the interior. Mercedes-Benz added raised markers on the tachometer and speedometer of a new instrument cluster that gave it a cool 3 D effect. New ambient interior lighting and burl walnut trim were added as a new option, giving buyers the choice of a GL450 or GL550 trim. Leatherette upholstery, a multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated eight-way power adjustable front seats with a 6 CD changer with 8 speakers and an MP3 input jack came standard in the 450, along with cupholders, cruise control, and climate control.

The GL550 gets an upgrade to front seat memory settings, leather seating and a boosted Harman Kardon surround sound audio system complete with Sirius satellite radio. Voice activated navigation and traffic updates in real time are a part of the standard COMAND system. Both trims could be ordered with a rear fixed panorama sunroof of a front power tilt open sunroof and offer up to 83 cubic feet of cargo room with the second row of seats folded flat.

The 450 was powered by a 4.6 liter DOHC V8 cranking 335 horses and 339 lb-ft of torque and the GL550 maintained the same 5.5-liter DOHC V8 generating 383 hp and 391 lb feet of torque. The 4Matic All Wheel Drive was standard in both trims and each engine was paired with an automatic 7-speed transmission.

Sales for the 2010 model in the United States reached a peak of 19,943 units and saw an increase in 2011 with 25,139 vehicles sold and a peak of 26,042 sold in 2012.

Mercedes-Benz second-generation GL in 2013 to present

From 2013 through 2015, the GL with its new upgrades and in 2016, the second-generation GL received a new name called the GLS class. The vehicles were equipped with three gas-powered engines including the

3.0 liter V6, a 4.6 liter V8, and a 5.5 liter V8. The two diesel options were a 3.0 liter OM642 V6d and a 4.0 liter OM629 V8. Most were paired with a 7 speed 7G Tronic automatic transmission. The vehicle has undergone changes since the first prototype was produced and it’s still the preferred vehicle for those who insist on luxury paired with on and off-road toughness.


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