2009 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Review

With a 23-mpg diesel version now available in all 50 states, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is a more viable option for SUV-needing families — though the appeal of a $60,000-plus four-wheeler seems limited in today's economy. Even if you are in the market, the GL remains a debatable choice: stylish on the outside and elegant within, but hamstrung by spotty reliability and a drivetrain as indecisive as the North Carolina electorate.

Still, that's more praise than I can give last year's model, whose review serves as the basis for this update; its dated navigation system was onerous to sort through, but it's been vastly improved for 2009. The SUV also gets more high-tech safety features, though they might just be gilding the lily on a model that already had nine standard airbags and an electronic stability system.

Trim levels include the diesel GL320 Bluetec and gasoline GL450 and GL550; click here to compare them or here to compare the whole group to its '08 equivalents. I drove a 2009 GL320 Bluetec, and I've also driven a 2008 GL550.

See also:

Adjusting the exterior mirrors
WARNING   Exercise care when using the passenger-side exterior rear view mirror. The mirror surface is convex (outwardly curved surface for a wider field of view). Objects in mirror are ...

Overview of transmission positions
The DIRECT SELECT lever is on the right of the steering column. P Park position with parking lock R Reverse gear N Neutral D Drive The DIRECT SELECT lever always returns to its origi ...

Resetting triggered NECK-PRO head restraints
WARNING For safety reasons, have the NECK-PRO head restraints checked at an authorized Mercedes-Benz Center after a rear-end collision. WARNING When pushing back the NECK-PRO head restr ...