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The Mercedes GL is the luxury SUV everybody needs

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Elmhurst is abundant in wealth. Massive towering mansions loom over the once adequate single story homes, and “e moms” drive around in $100,000 luxury SUV’s, which many argue are made for people who mostly care about a badge, not what the car has to offer. Some, however, can decipher what cars are worth the hefty price tag and go for the cars with spectacular features rather than just a brand (I’m talking to you Maserati owners). Aside from seeing Porsche Cayenne’s and new ridiculous Range Rovers cruising around town, the Mercedes GL class (or GLS if it’s 2017 or newer) is always the most abundant on the road. That doesn’t surprise me though, because it’s currently the best luxury SUV that money can buy.

Noah Krauter
The elegant lines make the car look great, even on a cloudy day.

Mercedes Benz is the longest lasting car brand to date with the introduction of their first horseless carriage in 1886. For the past 132 years, Mercedes Benz has been producing some of the finest vehicles that money can buy. The newest generation GL class isn’t an exception to that with comfort and luxury being a top priority throughout its design. The interior of the GL is deathly quiet – any conversation being had in the car could be just a whisper, and if anybody dropped a pin on the dense carpet it would wake up someone who had slipped off into a leather chair induced coma. Everything in the interior has a luxurious feel to it, from the leather-wrapped dashboard and door panels to the solid metal door handles that pull open with a confident and satisfying click. No fake leather is found anywhere in the cabin; only real cows had their lives taken for the passenger’s comfort.

Noah Krauter
The beautiful and refined interior has plenty of bits sprinkled around to remind you that “it’s the best or nothing.”

The technology included with the GL are only things that the Jetsons would ever dream of having. The car essentially has a computer integrated in the dashboard that communicates with all of the different systems of the car  The car also has cameras all over it. When backing up, it has a backup camera to check your surroundings without the painstaking process of turning your head around, and in addition to that, there are cameras that monitor the sides of the car and gives the effect of a bird’s eye view. When these cameras are activated the central screen splits in two: half is used for the backup camera while the other half shows the top of the GL, and what’s around you if you couldn’t see already. Essentially you don’t even need to look back when reversing – the screen does it all for you. Aside from that, many little things sprinkled throughout the interior remind you that this still isn’t an ordinary car by any means.

Noah Krauter
The badge on the grill is massive and even lights up at night so no one can mistake your Mercedes Benz for something else.

With any typical car the options to choose from aren’t exciting at all. You might get lucky and have a choice of how hot your seats get with the seat heater, or have a touch screen that sometimes works. Many Japanese manufacturers tend to copy the new features and options that German cars come equipped with because they’re that innovative and pioneering. The big Benz comes with adaptive cruise control which uses radar to monitor how far away you are from the car in front of you. Also included is the wonderful lane assist. Once again, the car uses radar to monitor its position in the lane and can sense if the driver starts to drift over into the next lane. The system will automatically correct the drivers error and bring the car back into the center of the original lane it was traveling in. The GL can also sense if it’s going to get into an accident and avoid it by automatically applying full brake pressure if the driver doesn’t stop in time. In addition to all of those life saving features that Honda and Toyota would only dream of inventing, there’s also seven airbags where even the drivers knee has one. Also included is the attention assist drowsy-driver detection system, which can tell when a driver is getting tired by their steering and throttle inputs. Once it can tell you’re on the ragged edge of your drive it suggests taking a break on the instrument cluster screen with a quaint little coffee cup logo. Such great attention to including these new groundbreaking safety features shows Mercedes Benz’s attention to detail and desire to have the best luxury cars on the road.

Noah Krauter
The GL looks spectacular from any angle with its AMG wheels and grille.

Much like any other luxury car, the GL or GLS can be had in a variety of models. A new GLS 450 comes with a 3.0 liter, 362 horsepower twin-turbo V6, that produces 369 ft-lb of torque. It’ll do 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds and keep going on to 133 mph where it inevitably tops out. The V6 is plenty powerful, however, this car really comes alive with the next trim model up: the GLS 550. The 550 is the hot rod version of this massive  SUV; it comes with a 4.7 liter twin turbo fire-breathing V8. The car will rocket to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and reach 155 mph where it’s electronically limited to not exceed that speed. The brakes are massive enough to stop a train, the GLS 550 comes standard with 14.8 inch vented and slotted rotors compared to the lesser 450 models that only comes with 13.8 inch vented rotors. In addition to the inch larger brake rotors, the 550 also comes with four-piston calipers up front to stop the 5,657 lb behemoth of an SUV.

Noah Krauter
The massive 4.7 liter engine barely fits itself in the GL’s snug engine bay.

Recently I had the opportunity to drive a 2013 GL 550 and was floored by how smooth and refined it drove. The turbos spool up almost immediately with a smooth and linear powerband. The car is so quiet and planted; you could go 120 mph and never know it unless you looked down at the speedometer. Next to the navigation “joystick” a selection of two suspension settings can be selected: comfort or sport mode. The shock absorbers will increase the air pressure within them for a firmer and more sporty ride when engaged. In this mode, the car no longer wallows through corners but rather dances through them like a midsized sedan. The only indication that you’re in an SUV rather than a sports sedan is how high you sit up–it’s really THAT good.

Noah Krauter
Even the rear of the car has cool features such as the automatic lift gate and automatic folding rear seats.

Springing for the higher trim 550 is well worth the extra $25,000 addition to the already expensive base price of $69,625 of the 450. Starting at $94,775, the 550 has many options that sets it apart from the 450. Lavish options such as massaging seats for the driver and passenger, Harmon Kardon sound system, 21 inch AMG five-spoke wheels, climate controlled rear seats, rear headrest TV’s and automatic folding third row make driving the 550 an overall more pleasant experience. To avoid paying the massive retail price, buying a used once can be an absolute steal. A 2013 GL550 with every option can be had for $50,000 or less which is an absolute steal considering it’s half of the price it originally cost.

Noah Krauter
The massive 22” wheel and brakes can be seen from this angle.

Whether it’s a new or a used one, the GL continues to pioneer and outsell everything in the luxury SUV market. The glamorous but understated styling and various options make this car not just a status symbol of the 2010’s but also one of the best cars to come out of the decade as well.

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About the Contributor
Noah Krauter, Reporter

Noah Krauter is a junior at York this year. He is super interested in fast cars and reading quality books. He spends most of his time trying to fix his...

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The Mercedes GL is the luxury SUV everybody needs