$36,905 - $63,749

2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class was new.


Performance: 8.4

According to reviewers, each of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL's engines produce ample power, though the base model's class-leading fuel economy makes it a compelling option. Test drivers agree that the GL's ride is fairly refined and comfortable for a large SUV, though some think its steering is too light. The GL earns praise for its strong brakes.

  • "Compared to a truck-based full-size SUV like the Cadillac Escalade, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class definitely feels like a cut above, thanks in large part to the smooth ride quality produced by the adaptive air suspension." -- Edmunds
  • "The GL's reputation for excellence is bolstered by impeccable build quality, enviable safety ratings and a sophisticated suspension that delivers one of the most comfortable yet dynamic rides of any full-size luxury crossover SUV." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "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 2016 GL350 BlueTEC is powered by a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 240 horsepower. It’s wedded to a seven-speed automatic transmission, as are all the engines. The base GL earns 19/26 mpg city/highway, which is more than most rivals get.

The GL450 has a 362-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, and the GL550 has a twin-turbo, 4.7-liter V8 engine that makes 429 horsepower. The high-performance AMG GL63 has a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that produces 550 horsepower.

Every engine in the GL's lineup provides satisfying power and zippy acceleration. Though upper trims have more robust engines, the base GL350's combination of good engine power and class-leading fuel economy may make it the most practical option for daily driving. The transmission also shifts smoothly and quickly.

  • "It's hard to go wrong with any of the available powertrains. The GL350's diesel-powered engine is no speed demon, but it's fine for everyday driving, and the V6's healthy 455 lb-ft of torque gives it enough grunt to pull a good-sized trailer with ease. The GL450's 362-hp gasoline V6 provides V8 thrust without the associated fuel economy. The GL550's 429-hp, 4.6-liter V8 has muscle to spare, making the 550-hp 5.5-liter V8 at the heart of the GL63 AMG a case of admittedly thrilling overkill." -- Edmunds
  • "Under its hood, the 2016 GL-Class from Mercedes-Benz offers a number of tantalizing powertrains. Be it the twin-turbo V6 in the GL450, the torque-happy diesel in the GL350 BlueTEC or the awesome thrust provided by 550 horsepower in the GL63 AMG, power is one commodity never in short supply." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2014)
  • "The GL450 is plenty strong for any task and benefits from a smooth, alert automatic transmission." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Despite its substantial size, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL rides comfortably and securely. Its standard air suspension helps it easily absorb bumps and ensures the cabin is quiet. Steering is precise, but it can feel light at times. The brakes stop the GL with all the confidence of some sport sedans. The GL comes standard with all-wheel drive.

  • "You might think a vehicle as tall and heavy as the Mercedes-Benz GL luxury SUV for 2016 could be a handful, but its tank-like solidity and taut suspension would prove you wrong. Comfortable and stable, the GL feels like any other big Mercedes sedan only with more seats and a higher driving position." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • Handling is solid but rather uninspiring due to the vehicle's size, weight and overly light steering feel. One dynamic bright spot is the GL's impressive brakes, which provide a little extra peace of mind, with stopping abilities on par with some sport sedans." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2014)
  • "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)

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