The all-new, second-generation Mercedes-Benz GL-Class sport utility has won the 2013 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year® award. The full article, citing the GL as “the best the luxury SUV class has ever seen,” will be published in the December issue of Motor Trend. This marks the second time the GL has won the prestigious Motor Trend award.
Built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the highly successful GL was the first full-size SUV from Mercedes-Benz. When the first-generation GL was launched, it also won the 2007 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year. The GL model lineup for 2013 includes the fuel-sipping GL350 BlueTEC turbodiesel (240 hp, 455 lb.-ft.) as well as the popular GL450 (362 hp, 406 lb.-ft.). The GL550 (429 hp, 516 lb.-ft.), and the high-performance GL63 AMG (550 hp, 560 lb.-ft.) are equipped with new direct-injection biturbo V8 engines. One of four sport utilities offered by Mercedes-Benz, the full-size GL is part of an SUV family that includes the mid-size M-Class, the compact GLK and the legendary G-Class.
“We’re honored that the GL-Class has once again been awarded Motor Trend’s Sport/Utility of the Year,” said Steve Cannon, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. “From the very beginning, the GL-Class has been perfectly tuned to the needs of U.S. customers and those customers made the GL the segment-leading sales performer. Motor Trend’s critical acclaim for the depth of its functionality together with the broadest powertrain offering in any full size SUV shows our commitment to delivering on our promise to our customers of the best or nothing.”
“We had an extremely competitive field for Motor Trend’s 2013 Sport/Utility of the Year,” said Edward Loh, Editor-in-Chief of Motor Trend. “However, the Mercedes-Benz GL truly outshone the field and emerged as the clear winner by the end of our program. The goal of the award is to name the SUV that best meets our six criteria, and none of the new 2013 SUV or crossover models managed to do that better than the GL. Simply put, the Mercedes-Benz GL is an outstanding vehicle, and we’re proud to name it our 2013 Sport/Utility of the Year.”
Since 1999, the Motor Trend editorial staff has selected and evaluated candidates for its Sport/Utility of the Year Award®. To be eligible, a vehicle must be all-new or significantly redesigned and must have made its retail debut within the past 12 months. During an intense evaluation process, Motor Trend puts 11 of the latest SUVs through its standard battery of testing, examining virtually every aspect of each vehicle.
Rather than conducting a direct comparison, each Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year® contender is individually evaluated against six criteria – advancement in design; engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value and performance of intended function. After a week of reviewing each of the vehicles, the Motor Trend staff selects which model best meets those six criteria.
Each vehicle is subjected to multiple tests that include 0 to 60 mph and 1/4-mile acceleration testing, 60 to 0 mph brake testing, figure-eight handling and skid pad testing. After making a first cut to eliminate a few of the vehicles, the editors conducted 35-mile road loops on a mixture of roads – city, freeway and canyon – followed by five miles of light off-roading. The GL scored especially well in off-road handling, premium interior and the breadth of its line.
Many New Safety Systems
The launch of the new full-size GL marked the introduction of a significant new safety system, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST, which uses a dedicated radar sensor to monitor the distance to a vehicle in front and to stationary objects. If the system senses a risk of imminent collision, it pre-charges the brakes and alerts the driver with a warning beep and flashing light on the dash.
The new GL-Class is loaded with other new safety systems such as ATTENTION ASSIST, ADAPTIVE BRAKE technology, mbrace2 telematics and Crosswind Stabilization. Slightly longer, wider and taller than the first-generation SUV, new convenience features include a COMAND control knob, a color instrument cluster display, power liftgate, and a 115-volt outlet under the second-row seats.
Among the new GL options are an ACTIVE CURVE system, On/Off-Road Package, Active Parking Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, a 360-degree Surround View camera, Panorama Roof and power EASY-ENTRY for third-row passengers.
Electromechanical Rack-And-Pinion Steering
The 2013 GL-Class comes with new electrically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Not only does the new electric steering provide built-in speed-dependent power assist, but it also offers fuel savings. The engine no longer has to turn a hydraulic power steering pump, and the new steering only uses electrical power when the wheel is being turned.
Active Parking Assist
The new electric steering assist also makes other innovative systems possible, such optional Active Parking Assist, which makes parallel parking a stress-free cinch. When reverse is engaged and the driver confirms Active Parking Assist is desired, the system initiates automatic steering as the driver controls acceleration and braking at speeds below seven mph. Active Parking Assist also includes an automatic exit feature.
ATTENTION ASSIST Cautions “Time For A Rest? “
Among the many new life-saving features on the GL-Class is the innovative ATTENTION ASSIST system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S. A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning, and a “Time for a Rest?” message with a coffee cup icon appears in the instrument cluster.
4MATIC Four-Wheel Drive Sets a Trend
All four GL models come with proven Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC all-wheel drive. As modern all-wheel-drive systems become more refined, they are becoming more popular, especially in the luxury car market. With negligible weight and fuel-efficiency tradeoffs, full-time four-wheel drive provides year-round traction and stability benefits on both wet and dry roads.
Rich, Sporty Interiors with Flexible Cargo Space
The exterior appearance of the new GL line includes sleek bumpers and front grille, chrome window trim and front and rear skid plates. LED technology is used for taillights and daytime running lights.
Inside, the luxury SUVs are fitted with heated power front seats, genuine wood trim and a retractable glass sunroof. New options include a double-sized power Panorama sunroof with fixed glass panel over the third-row seats and multi-color ambient lighting.
The two third-row seats can be stowed electrically at the push of a button, either separately or together, to provide a totally flat cargo floor. For easy access to the 3rd-row seats from both sides, a manual Easy-Entry feature is standard. Optionally available is power Easy-Entry folding of the second-row seats.
All GL-Class models feature four-wheel independent suspension and height-adjustable Airmatic suspension for unprecedented comfort and handling. The GL550 can be easily identified by a unique exterior styling treatment that includes fender flares, deeper front and rear aprons, chrome trim and 21-inch AMG wheels.
In Command with COMAND
A standard COMAND system features a high-resolution seven-inch color display screen with a COMAND controller, AM / FM / HD radio, in-dash, six-disc DVD / CD changer and a Bluetooth interface that allows a phone still in a pocket or purse to be operated through the car’s audio system.
It can be equipped with an optional iPod/MP3 interface, SIRIUS satellite radio, HD radio, and enhanced voice control. The COMAND screen can play tracks stored on a data CD, DVD or SD memory card.
The system can also display maps and directions for the optional hard-drive navigation system, which can be set up for SIRIUS real-time traffic info and Zagat restaurant ratings as well. All GL-Class models can be equipped with an optional 610-watt 12-speaker digital harman / kardon Logic7 audio system and a rear-seat entertainment system that includes two eight-inch screens, wireless headphones and an integrated DVD player that enables dual-source capability.
The 2013 GL-Class line is equipped with an enhanced seven-speed automatic transmission that provides even better fuel mileage, more responsive driving, quieter operation and increased durability. The new transmission features a more advanced torque converter lock-up clutch and is designed to work best with a new type of low-viscosity ATF transmission fluid, colored blue instead of the usual red.
Together with low-drag planetary gears, bearings and internal seals, the “FE-ATF” fluid provides less friction and improved fuel mileage. Lower hydraulic pressure and enhanced electronic software helps provide even smoother shifting.
The Mercedes-Benz Alabama Plant
Along with the M-Class, the GL-Class sport utility vehicle is produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which began production in 1997 with the first-generation M-Class. The facility is in the midst of a $2.4 billion expansion to prepare for future products. Starting in 2014, the Tuscaloosa plant will also produce the successor generation of the current C-Class for the North American market.
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