Mercedes-Benz GL 350: Tow test
Travel and tow with ease with the Mercedes-Benz GL 350.
The GL 350 BlueTEC Edition S is undoubtedly an expensive tow vehicle at $138,310, but so are the alternatives. If you want a top-shelf LandCruiser 200 it’ll set you back $113,600 and to get a look-in with the Range Rover you’ll have to stump up $189,910 for the entry-level 3L Vogue. Large American SUV tow haulers aren’t cheap either, with a Chevrolet Suburban going for $120k-plus.
The GL’s interior is spacious and comfortable, and is assembled with a high degree of quality finishes. The driver and front passenger get a very comfortable seat with excellent under-thigh and lateral support, and vision out of the GL is not bad, given its size. The view to the front and sides is very good, with rear vision poor, but aided well by the rearview camera. Side mirrors are relatively small for such a big vehicle, although they give a decent view of what’s going on to the sides and behind.
The dash is not an ergonomic disaster but could be laid out better, with the vast array of buttons and controls taking some time to get used to. The centre information screen seems small in comparison to some of the larger displays that are becoming commonplace and the interface is a bit clunky when using the console-mounted controller. There is no touch-screen facility, again a surprise for a vehicle at this price point.
Both the second and third rows are spacious and comfortable, and there’s even a bit of room for luggage with the third row seats up – not a common thing with seven-seaters.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
The 3L V6 turbodiesel is a smooth engine with a healthy mid-range response and an ability to reach its 4200rpm redline without complaint. Like many turbodiesels, low-rpm response is not as strong as the mid-range, so the GL 350 feels sluggish when you want it to get moving quickly from a standstill. This is the kind of thing that you adapt to over time, though, and you get the reward of strong forward propulsion once the tachometer reaches about 1600rpm. The seven-speed auto has a good selection of ratios and shifts smoothly.
The only item in the engine/transmission’s repertoire that really needs improvement is the stop-start system. Too keen to shut down the engine and a little slow to start it again – this method of saving fuel is admirable but others do it better.
MERCEDES-BENZ GL 350 BLUETEC EDITIONS SPECS
Weights and measures
- Length 5120mm
- Width 1934mm
- Height 1850mm
- Wheelbase 3075mm
- Ground clearance 307mm (air suspension full height mode)
- Kerb mass 2455kg
- Gross Vehicle Mass 3250kg
- Gross Combined Mass 6652kg
- Towing capacity (unbraked/braked) 750kg/3402kg
- Towball (max) 272kg
- Engine 3L V6 turbodiesel
- Transmission Seven-speed automatic
- Power 190kW at 3600rpm
- Torque 620Nm at 1600-2400rpm
- Gear ratios (:1)
- 1 4.38
- 2 2.86
- 3 1.92
- 4 1.37
- 5 1.00
- 6 0.82
- 7 0.73
- Rev 3.42
- Final drive 3.46
- Premium Package ($3800)
- Fuel capacity 100L
- Suspension Independent (front); multilink (rear); air springs (front and rear)
- Brakes Ventilated discs (front and rear)
- Wheels 21in alloy
- Warranty Three years/unlimited kilometres
- Roof load 100kg
The full test appears in Caravan World #543 November 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!