Experienced by Shawn Ciers
Upon arrival to Detroit, this Automotive Rhythms alum found the stylish and stunning powerhouse of a SUV from Mercedes-Benz (M-B) patiently awaiting and ready to take charge for the family oriented journey. Built to handle the smoothest of roads or wintry conditions alike, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC 4MATIC is a stunning experience in every respect. Especially since fuel consumption and power output from the 3-liter V6 Turbo Diesel engine would prove itself very noteworthy.
Mercedes-Benz has been a leader in technology and luxury within the automotive field for over 100 years, and the 2015 GL350 BlueTEC continues their exemplary path for delivering style, performance and innovation to our transportation world. While the latest model enhancements may not be physically present to the naked eye, make no mistake, modifications to the Turbo Diesel V6 instills value to the perception of diesel powertrains. The fact remains true that M-B has not disappointed when its vehicles require mature amendments including the new S-Class, S-Class Coupe and C-Class. Driven by the moniker — the “S-Class” of Luxury SUVs — the German automaker seems motivated to avoid unnecessary changes to the GL but also to ascertain characteristics that improve on safety, intuitiveness, comfort and opulence are maintained effectively.
While the BlueTEC is the lowest offering in the GL line in terms of horsepower, but with the same outputs of 240-horsepower and 455 lb.-ft. of torque from the previous model year, the Turbo Diesel is a very powerful powertrain. I had no qualms whatsoever trekking through slippery conditions on the streets of Oakland County, Michigan during our brief visit. A 7-speed automatic transmission is paired with the Diesel. The 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive along with the height adjustable AIRMATIC air suspension turned typical, frustrating cold weather driving into an enjoyable breeze. Sitting on the 20” rims tucked in Pirelli Scorpion all-season tires, which is provided through the optional Appearance Package ($1,200), added more flare to the behemoth’s styling. Although, the Illuminated Running Boards that come with the Appearance Package were too narrow to use as a step in my opinion.
Step inside our Auburn Brown/Black Leather interior ($1,620) with the Open-Pore Brown Ash Wood Trim ($160) and a dearth of tech wizardry is presented to the occupants, especially if your vehicle is endowed with the Premium Package ($4,410). Heated and cooled front cupholders, KEYLESS-GO, memory for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel and mirrors is a pleasant touch and M-B’s traditional COMAND multi-media system gave me good traffic and weather insight. All seemed to enhance value through optimized navigation and impressively pinned POIs, allowing us to navigate to desired destinations with ease. Do note that the media settings to connect Bluetooth took a bit of digging to find, but once paired, the device load times thereafter were progressively seamless. Ideal for long distance driving, the heated and ventilated ($570) multi-contour massaging chairs ($1,100) were a treat indeed. With four various settings ranging from slow and gentle to fast and vigorous, it felt more like I was in a spa than an automobile. Also included are the underappreciated, power-folding side-view mirrors. Moreover, my son Nathan enjoyed the Panorama Sunroof ($1,090) as he gazed at the skyward views during the drive from Detroit, up towards Grand Rapids through Lansing and back down. In turn, my wife appreciated the folding 2nd and 3rd rows for our packing, luggage and travel needs. It also wasn’t bad getting to the 3rd row when it wasn’t folded down. LED Daytime Running Lights with the optional Lighting Package ($1,390) which included powerful Bi-Xenon Headlamps with Active Curve Illumination and Adaptive Highbeam Assist allowed for superior corner coverage while turning and overall lighting on the dimly, illuminated city streets. Then we had the innovative Active Lane Keeping Assist that proactively steers the vehicle back into position when veering outside its lane. But I didn’t allow that to happen at all, just once or twice for evaluation.
Along with the bevy of safety features available for the GL, the Accessory Chrome Package ($225), Active Curve with Adaptive Damping System ($3,700), Trailer Hitch ($575) and Parking Assist Package ($1,290) bumped the MSRP from $63,600 to $86,825 including the $925 destination and delivery charge. So leave your performance and luxury concerns behind when loading up for a cross-state or country trip in a large SUV. With the impressive mileage for this Turbo Diesel, the GL is a comfortable, although pricey, choice for the family.