Over the River and Through the Woods – In the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec Luxury SUV

White 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 driving through a low stream

Images courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Forget for a second (if that’s possible) that this is one of the most opulent sport utes we’ve tested in a while, what with its Designo interior and host of Mercedes goodies. At the heart and soul of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350, BlueTec is a solid, proven platform offering a well-controlled, confident on-road experience, and it was recently named SUV of the Year by Motor Trend.

The GL comes with a choice of powertrains, and our recent tester arrived with the BlueTec turbodiesel 3.0-liter V-6 engine that generates 240hp and a whopping 455 lb. ft. of torque.

Thanks to AdBlue exhaust treatment, the engine meets 50-state diesel compliance in the U.S. while never rearing an ugly diesel head, and most folks would probably not even realize this vehicle has a diesel under the hood if you did not tell them.

White 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 driving through the country.

The BlueTec is backed by a slick seven-speed automatic gearbox with a Direct Select shift lever and steering wheel-mounted shift paddles (on a diesel, yes). This GL350 rides on stylish 19-inch twin 5-spoke alloy wheels sprung by the awesome Airmatic self-leveling air suspension system for one of the best rides on the road today, SUV or not.

The new GL arrives with a host of new driver-assist technologies, including Collision Prevention Assist that uses radar to sense distance to objects and vehicles ahead, Attention Assist for drowsy drivers, Adaptive Brake technology, Crosswind Stabilization, Active Curve System featuring a semi-active suspension system to assist with control in curves, Active Lane Keeping Assist, 360-degree Surround View Camera, Active Parking Assist, and a host of others.

White 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 parked on a road near a bridge

All new GL models arrive with the Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, which provides even further capability regardless of the road conditions year-round.

What may surprise many is that all GL-Class models, along with the M-Class sport-utes, are built in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The plant is slated to build the next-generation C-Class cars in 2014.

The GL350 BlueTec’s fuel economy is 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. It is rated for towing up to 7,500 lbs., and the fuel tank holds a healthy 26.4 gallons, offering a generous range on the road with this luxury sport-ute.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 interior

Pricing begins at a reasonable $62,400 for the GL-Class with our BlueTec/Designo tester rolling into our driveway at a whopping $99,840 thanks to the impressive and comfortable interior package, the awesome Bang and Olufsen sound system, rear seat entertainment, heated/ventilated front seating and heated rear seats, and panorama sunroof. Yes, the add-ons for this vehicle total more than what a lot of folks pay for their entire vehicles.

This is a very capable, very comfortable, very opulent vehicle. Yes, it is out of reach for most, but for the discerning luxury SUV buyer, it is a great way to get over the river and through the woods as one heads to a grandmothers house this holiday season.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 drivetrain

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.