The Inside

The GL's cabin is finished in nice materials Ч that's the price of entry in this class Ч but the interior design isn't especially memorable. Fit and finish are also good.

Ranking as one of the more unusual upholstery decisions I've seen, the GL350 has a stitched leather dashboard but simulated leather seating, something Mercedes calls MB-Tex. While MB-Tex is remarkably good at emulating the real thing, you have to pay extra to get real leather on the seats Ч which is incomprehensible in a $60,000-plus luxury SUV.

Mercedes' keypad interface for the optional navigation system got easier to use the longer I drove the GL350, but I'm still not a big fan of it. The screen's menus look the same as those in the automaker's S-Class and E-Class cars, but instead of the relatively intuitive knob controller Mercedes uses in those models, there's a little keypad to the right of the screen. It leaves a lot to be desired in terms of usability. If I already have to reach toward the dash to adjust the system, just give me a touch-screen, please.

While the GL provides a commanding view of the road, it's not a huge climb up into the driver's seat, which shorter drivers will appreciate. The front bucket seats are large and comfortable, neither too firm nor too soft.

I was expecting the GL's second row to be spacious because it's a big SUV on the outside, but this row managed to just accommodate my 6-foot-1-inch frame. The biggest limiting factor is legroom; with the front seat adjusted to where I'd sit, my knees were nearly touching its backrest, and they would have been pressed against it were it not for the indentations in the seatback. The second-row backrests provide a few recline positions, but the seat itself is fixed, so you can't slide it rearward for more legroom.

For a third row, the GL's isn't bad. I was able to sit back there, though I had to splay my legs to make them fit.

    See also:

    Lumbar supports
    The lumbar support in the backrest of the driver's and front-passenger seats can be adjusted to provide optimum support for your back. To select the seat: press the function button. The m ...

    Center console, upper section
    1 Audio system/COMAND; see the separate operating instructions 2 Seat heating 3 Seat ventilation 4 PARKTRONIC 5 Downhill Speed Regulation (vehicles without AIRMATIC package) 6 Hazard war ...

    The immobilizer prevents your vehicle from being started without the correct SmartKey. When leaving the vehicle, always take the SmartKey with you and lock the vehicle. The engine can be starte ...