Big, bold and beautiful
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC is more than just a people-hauler. Sure, it has three rows with room for seven, but it can also coddle you in creature comforts you might not expect from an automobile. As well as offering up "slow and vigorous" (should that be your desire) massaging front seats, the GL 350 is also quite quick for its size.
However, all's not rosy and pink with the new GL 350. My time with the Merc revealed a few foibles that could potentially put off future buyers.
What is the Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC?
Merc's GL-Class is their full-size luxury SUV model lineup with room for seven. Slotted above their M-Class, the GL was first introduced in 2006 and has since established itself in the luxury SUV market for its spacious size and high-end amenities, as well as a range of engine choices.
This latest iteration, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC is only the second generation of the GL-Class, which saw a facelift in 2012.
2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC Price and Specs
There are four available GL models from Mercedes-Benz, and only one of them is diesel, the GL 350 BlueTEC. Starting at $74,900 the GL 350 BlueTEC isn't just the most fuel efficient, it's also the cheapest of the bunch. The most expensive being the power-happy GL 63 AMG at $126,400.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC is equipped with a 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel engine that produces 240 horsepower and a healthy 455 lb-ft of torque. Gotta love diesel torque (and I most definitely do). The GL 350 BlueTEC can hit a top speed of 210 km/hr and has a fuel consumption rating of 10.4L/100km (combined).
Driving the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC
The GL 350 is both performance driven and fuel-efficient. While the horsepower numbers above may not seem like much for a vehicle its size (2,455 kg to be exact), the torque ensures this rather large puppy can boogie when asked.
I found myself almost shocked at the momentum created via pressing the throttle. I didn't expect the GL 350 to push forward in such a manner. It's not a jarring momentum either, but fluid and linear -- and quick, very quick.
Mercedes' AIRMATIC air suspension also ensures the ride is as smooth and controlled as ever no matter what the road surface, and an all-wheel drive system (Merc's 4MATIC) keeps you stable. From rough, potholed surfaces to freshly paved streets, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC kept its composure, even when pushed on the rougher stuff.
The 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission is seamless and can be manually controlled via paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but I was quite happy to leave it to its own devices, it's that good. I never felt it slipping to a lower gear unnecessarily of shifting too soon.
Visibility is great in the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC, despite the vehicle's size. Around car cameras ensure parking is a breeze, and I especially liked when the backup camera switches to a front-bumper mounted camera once you put the car back into drive to straighten out when parallel parking.
Inside and Out of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC
Mercedes' front fascia redesign has me weak in the knees. I love the bold, masculine look of the front grille and angular headlights. Aggressive and modern, the 2014 Merc GL 350 BlueTEC makes a serious statement when driving down the road. A sporty beltline and distinctive chrome accents ensure this Merc exudes confidence and sophistication, no matter what paint colour you choose to drape it in.
Inside, luxury and sophistication abound.
Wrapped from front to back in quilted chocolate brown Designo Nappa leather with wood trim (an extra $4,800) and brushed chrome accents, the Mercedes-Benz GL 350 is a classy place to be, no matter which seat you choose to take. Even the third row is somewhat comfortable (for someone of my stature).
Perhaps most impressive about the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC is its list of electronic amenities and gadgets. From satellite radio, lane-departure warning via a vibration in the steering wheel to massaging front seats that also heat and cool, as well as front crash sensors and blind-spot detection.
Now, a major foible and one I can't ignore: Large second-row headrests that cannot be removed. It might not seem like a major issue, but when you have children and child seats to install and a car is equipped with monstrous headrests (like the GL 350) you want to be able to remove them. If you equip your GL with the power-electric folding seats you cannot remove the headrests. I had to install my son's baby seat in the middle position because the headrest is smaller and much less intrusive. A quick search online proved I was not the only annoyed parent as forums have pages of postings about this exact problem.
Comparing the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC
When it comes to large, three-row luxury diesel SUVs, the pickings are slim. While some may consider the Porsche Cayenne Diesel a worthy competitor, it only offers room for five. The Audi Q7 TDI is a formidable opponent, however, and doesn't come with a headrest conundrum, either.
I like Mercedes' GL-Class. I have, in fact, always liked the GL. Although big and somewhat imposing, its face is one that is unwavering, yet friendly.
Beyond the looks lies a vehicle that is as luxurious as it is easy to drive, Regardless of the powertrain selected, the GL-Class performs with serious class, and panache... Read more
Auto journalist & Consumer Ratings
Editor's Review Highlights
2014 Mercedes GL-Class Specifications
Similar to 2014 Mercedes GL-Class