Details about the new Mercedes GL class SUV were revealed at the NY Auto Show today. The GL is a stretched version of the ML SUV, and is built in the same plant in South Carolina. Both ML and GL are substantially revised for the 2013 model year.
Of most interest to ExPo readers is the addition of an "on and off road" package. This option includes
-- two speed transfer case
-- central diff lock
-- air suspension capable of 12 inches of ground clearance
-- skid plates
-- enhanced electronic programs for traction control for mud, sand and snow
That's the good news. The bad news is that this option will be available on the gas engine GL models only, not on the GL350 Bluetec diesel! Maybe Mercedes will see the light, and add the option to the diesel at a later date.
All GL models have full time AWD and four wheel air suspension, plus computer traction control. All GL models have the Active Curve system as an option, which adds computer control of the roll bar stiffness. This allows extra stiffness of the roll bars when cornering or driving on a rough road, and reduces roll bar stiffness when off road. Sounds like a version of Toyota's KDSS.
The two gas engines are significantly upgraded over previous years. The GL450 is a twin turbo V8 that produces 400 ft lb of torque. The GL550 is a 516 ft lb torque monster
The 2013 GL will be available in September. Prices were not announced, but I expect a small increase over 2012 prices, which range from $61K (the GL350 diesel) to $85K (the GL550).
All these features will be available on the 2013 ML SUV as well. Prices are about $10K lower than the GL. The ML is looking very interesting in 2013.