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In 2007, it was time for Mercedes-Benz to jump all the way into the SUV realm and it did so with the release of its full-size class of SUVs: the GL-Class. The GL450 originally sat at the top of its full-size SUV lineup, flanked by the less-powerful GL320 CDI. In the following year, the GL450 lost its top spot to the newly released GL550 and remains in the middle slot even as the 2013 model year rolls in.
For the 2013 model year, Mercedes-Benz completely revamped the GL450 from head to toe and even under its hood. Under the hood, Mercedes dropped the 335-horsepower, 4.7-liter engine from the 2012 model year in favor of a 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that pumps out 27 more horsepower and gets 1 more mpg on the highway and in the city. On the outside Mercedes dropped the soft-looking 2012 body in favor of a more muscular design that boasts more prominent front and rear fenders, sharper bodylines, and more chrome accents.
On the inside, where the GL450 seats seven people, Mercedes gave the dashboard a more wing-like appearance, and added in brushed-metal accents, more logically placed controls, and precision stitching on the seats. The GL450 comes in at a base MSRP of $63,900.
As for competition, well, the full-size luxury SUV realm is packed full of alternatives. A key competitor for the GL450 is the 2013 BMW X5 xDrive50i, which features a $64,200 base MSRP, a 400-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 engine, a 6,000-pound towing capacity and seating for up to five people on leather. Next up is the 2013 Cadillac Escalade, which comes in a base MSRP of $64,170 and features a 6.2-liter V-8 engine with 403 horsepower, an 8,000-pound towing capacity and leather seating for seven people. Next in line is the 2013 Audi Q7 3.0T S-Line Prestige, which comes in at $60,550 and features a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine that cranks out 333 horsepower, a seven person capacity on leather seats and a 6,600-pound towing capacity.
The competition is plenty and the GL450 has a lot of work to do in order to keep customers interested. A simple redesign may not be enough, so Mercedes needs to bring something special to the table.
The driving forces behind the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK450 Base are a 362-horsepower, 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Also standard in the GLK450’s drivetrain is Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. The drivetrain and rugged structure allows this full-size SUV to tow up to 7,500 pounds. On the outside, the GLK450 comes standard with four-wheel Electronic Traction System, AIRMATIC air suspension, adaptive braking, trailer stability control, 19-inch alloy wheels with 275/55R19 all-season tires, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, aluminum roof rails, power rear hatch, rain-sensing wipers, and a rear-view camera. Inside the GLK450’s cabin it features: dashboard and door panels trimmed in eucalyptus wood, four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction controls, nine airbags, MB-Tex synthetic leather, dual-zone climate control, power and heated front seats, power sunroof, tinted rear windows, HomeLink, 115-volt household outlet, and premium stereo with in-dash DVD/CD player, Bluetooth audio streaming, HD radio and COMAND control center with 7-inch LCD screen.
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Tons of power and standard leather seating, but lacks seating capacity, comes up short in tow and is pricey
A lot of power, tons of towing and seating capacity, and a rugged chassis, but a very dated design
Great base price and plenty of leather seating, but lacks in power and towing
Low $58,240 base price and upgraded leather seating, but old-looking body and not nearly as roomy as the Mercedes