Mercedes expects GL sales to rise
SANTA FE, N.M. -- Mercedes-Benz is vying to keep leadership of the large luxury SUV/crossover segment with the second-generation GL, executives said.
They wouldn't predict sales but said the 2013 GL should top its U.S. peak of 26,396 units in 2007.
"It is the S class of SUVs," said Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, referring to Mercedes' flagship S-class sedan. "It is better in every way."
The new GL is tailored to the United States because 53 percent of the volume of the current generation was sold here, Cannon said. The GL is built in Vance, Ala.
The GL has about 25 percent of the segment, which has annual sales of about 100,000 vehicles, Todd Grieco, Mercedes-Benz USA product manager for SUVs, said at a press event here. Competitors include the Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX56, Audi Q7, Lexus GX 460 and Lincoln Navigator. Archrival BMW does not have a competing vehicle.
At launch in September, the GL will be available in three variants. The GL350 BlueTEC with a 240-hp V-6 turbodiesel starts at $63,305. Two models have direct-injection gasoline V-8 engines, the GL450 with 362 hp and a base price of $64,805 and the GL550 with 429 hp and a sticker of $87,805. All prices include shipping.
A high-performance GL63 AMG with 550 hp and a 5.5-liter biturbo V-8 engine goes on sale in the first quarter of 2013. Pricing for the AMG model will be released closer to launch. All four engines are combined with a new seven-speed automatic transmission.
The new-generation seven-seat GL is about 1 inch longer at 201.6 inches and 1 inch taller at 72.8 inches than its predecessor and has easier access to the third row of seats, said Bart Herring, general manager of product management for Mercedes-Benz USA.
Among new features is a standard radar-assisted system that monitors the distance of stationary and moving objects in front of the GL, precharges the brakes and emits a warning beep if a crash is imminent.
The 2013 GL also has new electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering, a new generation of the mbrace2 telematics system and a crosswind stabilization feature. All four variants of the GL have standard all-wheel drive.
New options include a parking assist feature that works at speeds below 20 mph and displays a "P" icon when the right-size parking space is found. It also can automatically steer the GL into the parking space. The curve illumination system uses electronic sensors and engine controls to reduce body lean. An on/off road package has a two-speed electronically controlled transfer case to give the GL better off-road handling.
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