The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL550. Photo courtesy of MBUSA.

Mercedes-Benz next generation 2013 GL-Class Uberwagens

Fresh from a redesign and only now marking its second generation, the Mercedes Benz GL-Class may have a retro look, but it’s definitely looking forward with state-of-the-art safety technology that not only sees impacts before you do, but notices if you’re getting drowsy, too.

That’s because the launch of the new GL ushers in a stellar new safety system, Collision Prevention Assist, which uses a sensor to measure the distance to a preceding vehicle as well as stationary objects. If a risk of collision is imminent, the system charges the brakes while alerting the driver with both sonic and visual warnings.

Other Safety Innovations
Other new cutting-edge safety features include Active Lane Keeping Assist (ALKA), which uses the unique methodology of simulating rumble strip vibration in the steering wheel when the car begins to drifts from its lane with no signals. It kicks in at 38-mph by recognizing white and yellow lines defining pathways. This works with a windshield camera and computer image analysis. ALKA also has intervention feature, wherein braking will automatically correct the car’s course if the initial warning goes unheeded.

Active Blind Spot Assist (ABSA) monitors both blind spots behind and beside the vehicle, providing visual and audible warnings when a vehicle’s in the blind spot, activated by the turn signal. ABSA also incorporates ESP intervention feature if the driver fails to respond.

The GL-Class line comes with ESP stability control, ABS anti-lock brakes, two-stage adaptive air bags for the driver and front passenger, driver’s knee seat-mounted side cushions in front and rear, curtain side bags plus adaptive belt-tensioning and force limiters.

Besides preparing seatbelts, The Pre-Safe system automatically moves the front passenger seat to a better position for protection on some models, while side windows close to support the side-curtain airbags, and in the case of an impending rollover, the sunroof closes.

The 2013 GL Lineup
Included in the new 2013 GL model lineup is the fuel-sipping GL350 BlueTEC with its 240-hp V6 turbodiesel that delivers 455 lb.-ft. of torque. Next in line is the GL450 sporting a 362-hp engine developing 406 lb.-ft. and the 429-hp GL550 with 516 lb.-ft. Both take their power from new direct-injection biturbo V8 engines. At the top of the class reigns the high-performance 550-hp GL63 AMG, deriving 560 lb.-ft. of torque from a hand-built AMG 5.5-liter biturbo, direct injection V8.

The exterior of the new GL line features an integrated front grille and bumper, chrome window trim and skid plates front and rear. Taillights and daytime running lights feature modern LED accents.

All GL-Class models come with four-wheel independent suspension and height-adjustable AirMatic suspension. The GL550 can be easily identified by the flared fenders, aggressive aprons front and rear, chrome trim and 21-inch AMG wheels.

Electromechanical Rack-And-Pinion Steering
The new GL-Class comes with electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering, tacking better fuel economy on top of built-in speed-dependent power assistance. Having no hydraulic power steering pump saves both engine power and weight. Mounted between the front wheels, the steering unit uses a mechanical ratio that operates slightly faster, to engender agility and handling.

Active Parking Assist
The electric steering contributes to the availability of optional Active Parking Assist, making parallel parking stress-free. When you slow to about 20 mph, the GL even helps you look for a parking space and when a space of adequate-size parking space is detected, an arrow appears next to the “P” icon in info center. When reverse is engaged and Active Parking Assist is activated, the system initiates automatic steering as the driver controls acceleration and braking at speeds below seven mph. After two forward corrections allowed by the system, the wheels are straightened. It also includes an automatic exit feature, if desired.

Sporty Interiors plus versatile cargo options
Inside the plush SUV, you’ll find heated power front seats, genuine wood trim and a power glass sunroof. Other options include a huge Panorama sunroof with a fixed panel over the third-row and multi-colored ambient lighting.

One or both third-row seats can be stowed at the push of a button, providing a totally flat cargo space. A manual Easy-Entry feature comes standard, permitting access to the third-row seats from both sides. Power storage is optional in the second row seating.

In Command with Comand
The standard system features a high-resolution seven-inch display screen with Comand controller, AM/FM/HD radio, multidisc DVD/CD changer and Bluetooth phone synching. An iPod/MP3 interface, SIRIUS satellite radio and enhanced voice control are all optional. The Comand system can also play tracks stored on a data CD, DVD or SD memory card.

The optional hard drive based navigation system, can incorporate SiriusXM real-time traffic info and Zagat restaurant ratings as well. All GL-Class vehicles can have the enviable option of an 830-watt 14-speaker digital harman/kardon Logic7 audio system plus a rear-seat entertainment system including two eight-inch screens, wireless headphones and an integrated DVD player with dual-source versatility.

GL350 BlueTEC – Impressive Fuel Economy
Viable in all 50 states (which is presumably says you can own one in California), thanks to an innovative AdBlue exhaust treatment system that meets the most stringent emissions limits. The diesel-powered GL350 BlueTEC delivers impressive performance, low exhaust emissions and great fuel economy – 240 hp and a whopping 455 lb-ft. of torque. The model features an innovative 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine developing the torque of a V8 and fuel economy rivaling some four-cylinders. Equipped with the latest Common Rail Direct Injection technology, this electronically injected and turbocharged diesel engine is changing American perceptions of diesel power.

Fuel-Efficient Transmission
The 2013 GL-Class line’s seven-speed automatic transmission enhances fuel economy even, while creating more responsive driving, quieter operation and added durability. The new transmission’s advanced torque converter lock­up clutch works best with a new type of low-viscosity ATF transmission fluid, that’s colored blue instead of the usual red.

In conjunction with low-drag planetary gears, bearings and internal seals, the “FE-ATF” fluid lessens friction and thus improves mileage as well. Lower hydraulic pressure and enhanced electronic software helps by providing even smoother shifts.

The Mercedes-Benz Alabama Plant
Along with the M-Class, the GL-Class sport utility vehicle is produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which began production in 1997 with the first-generation M-Class. Since 2001, more than $600 million has been invested to expand the facility.