2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC Diesel SUV: Review Roundup

mercedes gl350 diesel 2012 SUV

photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel SUV and thinking about the Mercedez GL350 in a clean diesel BlueTec model? Here’s a round up of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

Some may think that the 2012 Mercedes GL 350 BlueTEC Diesel may be getting a little old. After all, the design was unveiled in 2006. Back then, Mercedes specifically designed the vehicle for the American market. Since then, diesel options have become more widely available on the U.S. market, and the result is that Americans are beginning to view a diesel engine is a good alternative to gasoline. The GL350 boasts a 3.0 liter V-6 turbocharged diesel engine. It is the turbocharged aspect that makes the diesel a lot more efficient. The EPA estimates fuel economy to be 17 MPG city/21 MPG highway and Mercedes claims that the vehicle goes from 0 to 60 in 9.4 seconds. MSRP is $61,570. Here is a quick summary of reviews of the GL350 diesel:

Forbes.com – 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC Test Drive and Review: A Hug for Diesel

An article published by Forbes points out that “Europeans have long embraced diesel-powered passenger cars. Diesel fuel requires less refining than gasoline. Diesel packs more punch than gas — about 147,000 BTU per gallon for diesel versus 125,000 BTU per gallon for gas. And diesel puts off less CO2, CO and hydrocarbons than gas.” However, it also noted that there are downsides.  “Burning diesel versus gas results in higher levels of nitrogen compounds and soot, both of which can be very harmful to human health. Because of increased demand, diesel has lost its price advantage over gasoline in the past few years.” Still, “clean” diesel and hybrid engines are considered a better alternative than gasoline as far as the environment is concerned.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC is categorized as a full-size SUV that features three rows of seats. The Forbes article reports that the exterior design is “sophisticated and elegant.” They remark that “Somehow, the overall shape of the body manages to convey a much more compact impression than the vehicle’s actual measurements…” The silhouette has that classic Mercedes look due to “crisp body lines and rich paint.”

Inside the cabin the driver’s seat is “generously proportioned.” The luxury appearance is preserved by the real Burl Walnut trim that adorns the dash and doors. They complained that the navigation screen located below air vents should be mounted higher in the center stack. They found the second row of seats to be “… genuinely luxurious, with good firm seating and room for three.” They add that “The third row is easily accessed with one lever on the second row, and is roomy enough for two adults — for a short ride.”

They are not particularly impressed with the SUV’s sprint from 0-60 in 9.4 seconds. They add, however, “… that figure is a little deceptive, because of how the power is delivered. If you punch the throttle at a stoplight, there’s a discernible lag before the engine responds to your input. Once the power comes on, the GL is like a freight train, with its 5512 lb. curb weight plowing forward and gaining momentum. At cruising speed, the GL is whisper quiet and handles like it is on rails.”

They question whether the American market will embrace diesel and conclude, “…not yet. But the GL is worthy of a firm handshake, and maybe a peck on the cheek. It’s going to take a serious drop in the relative price of diesel fuel and further performance improvements for GL to earn that embrace.”

 

Car & Driver Buyer’s Guide – 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec Diesel

C&D generally likes the SUV.  They begin by saying “As far as large SUVs go, this is one of our favorites. It seats seven, offers respectable towing capacity, and has the moves of a much smaller SUV.”

Positives are said to be: “Big inside, not-so-huge outside, excellent diesel option, creamy ride, quiet demeanor, steers and handles like a smaller SUV.”  Negatives, they say, are “Mushy brake-pedal feel, cramped third row, price continues to rise.”

They conclude, “Surprisingly maneuverable, the GL offers precise steering, great engines, a supple ride, and a solid feel. The diesel has some turbo lag, but it’s strong once under way.”

 

The Diesel Driver – 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec Review and Test Drive

The Diesel Driver agrees that the silhouette is slick: “Compared to its somewhat boxy sibling, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class GL350 is downright sleek.  (It will probably get even sleeker when the second-generation completely redesigned GL-Class is introduced for 2013.  Based on spy photos, expect changes similar to the redesign of the M-Class, which was launched last year.)”

However, they complain that inside the cabin: “The GL lacks an armrest-mounted cockpit controller or pointing device for the Command system. While the car comes with the latest Command software, the car’s equivalent of a mouse is the same one that was available in 2006 at the launch and was also found in the prior-generation M-Class. Presumably, the redesigned 2013 model will have a more optimally-positioned controller.”

They describe the ride of the GL35 as nice. “Steering was responsive although I found very little feedback from the system. Braking was excellent as were stopping distances,” they reported. They add that the Mercedes “Pre-Safe” safety system “will take multiple measures to protect occupants in the event it senses an impending collision. These include tightening the seat belts, moving the front passenger seat to a more protected position, closing the side windows and, in the event of a rollover possibility, closing the sunroof.”

They conclude, “…the GL350 BlueTEC is comfortable, handles well for a vehicle of its size, and has gobs of torque. If that’s not enough to go diesel, then I’m not really sure what is.”

2012 Mercedes GL350 BlueTEC Clean Diesel Review Summary

In conclusion, the consensus appears to be:

Likes:

  • The 3.0 liter V-6 turbocharged diesel engine
  • Exterior design
  • Luxury appearance of interior
  • Third row of seats
  • Luggage room
  • Big inside, not so huge outside
  • Quiet
  • Handling
  • Pre-Safe System
  • Braking

Dislikes:

  • Navigation display located below air vents
  • 0-60 speed
  • Brake pedal feel
  • Control device for the command system
Don’t forget to check out our list of all 2012 diesel cars, trucks and SUVs available in the US market.

Do you own this car, or have you driven one? What’s your take?

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