$24,143 - $42,974

2014 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class was new.


Performance: 8.2

According to most auto journalists, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is easy to drive despite its large dimensions, and feels composed and controlled over imperfect roads. Test drivers say the base GL350 has plenty of power and great fuel economy for the class, and that the V8-powered GL450, GL550 and GL63 AMG are all impressive performers, with no shortage of power for quick acceleration.

  • "By all rights, the GL-Class should drive like a school bus, because that's approximately how large this crossover is. But Mercedes has worked some magic with the GL's driving character, employing a light yet accurate steering system to great effect. We're not saying the GL is nimble -- far from it -- but it's not intimidating to drive either, and that's the important thing." -- AutoTrader
  • "The 2014 GL-Class is certainly at the top of the full-size SUV category in its driving behavior with supremely capable ride and exceptional handling." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "These are among the quietest large SUVs. Wind rush is particularly well controlled." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "This benign three-row crossover, attractive in its own big-box way, happens to be the most engaging, best-handling CUV this reviewer has ever tested, on road or off." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "Previous sampling of both the GL350 diesel and GL550 V-8 reveal them to be equally civilized machines, at home on high-speed cross-country treks as well as low-speed crosstown errands." -- Cars.com (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2014 GL350 BlueTEC is powered by a turbodiesel, 3.0-liter, V6 engine that produces 240 horsepower. The GL450 and GL550 have twin-turbo, 4.6-liter, V8 engines that produce 362 and 429 horsepower, respectively. The high-performance GL63 AMG has a twin-turbo, 5.5-liter V8 that produces 550 horsepower. A seven-speed automatic transmission comes on all trims. The diesel GL350 earns an EPA-estimated 19/26 mpg city/highway, which is very good for the class. The GL450 is rated at 14/19 mpg city/highway, which is comparable to the fuel economy ratings of most other V8-powered luxury large SUVs.

Many reviewers regard the GL350 as the best trim for most SUV shoppers, noting that it has ample power and torque for day-to-day driving and great fuel economy for the segment. Those looking for faster acceleration will be impressed with the GL450 and even more so with the GL550 and GL63 AMG, auto journalists write. Reviewers add that the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly, but some critics think the powertrain could be more responsive when coming out of turns.

  • The GL350 BlueTEC is powered by a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline 6-cylinder that … is truthfully our favorite GL engine, as it whisks the nearly 3-ton crossover around effortlessly while returning an impressive 19 miles per gallon city/26 mpg hwy." -- AutoTrader
  • "With 240 horsepower and a mountainous 455 lb-ft of torque, the 3.0-liter BlueTEC V6 not only delivers plenty of power, it also is EPA-rated at 26 mpg on the highway. Add that it's smooth and quiet, and the diesel becomes the engine of choice for many GL owners." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Among the V8-powered models, acceleration is excellent even in the bottom-tier GL450, and it only gets wilder in the GL550 and GL63 AMG. If you want a crossover that can embarrass some muscle cars at the drag strip, any GL-Class V8 will do the trick. Although the diesel GL350 Bluetec isn't nearly as fast as its siblings, it feels plenty capable in everyday driving, particularly off the line." -- Edmunds
  • "Throttle response and transmission kickdown was unacceptably slow: Decelerate at an intersection, make a right turn and push the gas to accelerate again, and nothing happens for a measurable second." -- Cars.com (2013)
  • "The GL450 is plenty strong for any task and benefits from a smooth, alert automatic transmission." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

The 2014 Mercedes GL-Class comes standard with all-wheel drive. Reviewers say that the GL-Class has an exceedingly comfortable ride over rough road surfaces, which they attribute to the standard air suspension. The GL-Class handles well for a big SUV, as most auto journalists say it exhibits little body lean through turns. Some critics counter that the GL-Class' hefty curb weight and stability control system erode handling quality when hustling it through turns. Most test drivers agree that the steering is precise and the brakes have plenty of stopping power.

  • "As for cruising comfort, well, this is where the GL really excels. The standard air suspension takes the bumps out of almost any surface, and the cabin remains library-quiet at speed." -- AutoTrader
  • "Unfortunately, that straight-line goodness is somewhat dampened by the GL's lackluster handling. The vehicle's overly light steering and bulky size and weight are part of the problem, but so is a very intrusive stability control system that intervenes in even seemingly normal situations (say, on sharp corners at normal speeds or over broken pavement) where the GL is still in fine shape otherwise. It's not something we expect most GL drivers to be truly annoyed with, but it's a potential distraction if your driving style is on the assertive side." -- Edmunds
  • "While the GL is a big vehicle, it certainly doesn't feel ponderous, and it is at all times composed, quiet and confidence-inspiring. To find these characteristics in a full-size SUV is remarkable, indeed." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Steering is accurate and direct. In fast turns on smooth surfaces, the GL has plenty of grip. They stay flatter in corners than most large SUVs. The experience is more car-like than its rivals." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "That impression is underscored by the vehicle's electro-mechanical power steering system. As in other applications, the setup is speed sensitive, offering single-finger steering at low speeds and firming up once the GL gathers its momentum. Even at a highway clip, inputs feel on the numb side, though we doubt buyers in this class will care." -- Autoblog (2013)

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