2015 Mercedes-Benz GL550 | DRIVEN

Best bang for your buck in the three-row, luxury SUV market.

Photos & Words: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates

Exterior: Everything about the GL550 exudes class and confidence with its bold, chiseled bodylines and attractive front fascia. The Obsidian Black Metallic hue is ideal for the GL550 as it adds that touch of class synonymous with the Mercedes’ brand while also providing a platform for the chrome accents to get some shine, too. The 21-inch, black AMG wheels wrapped in 40 series tires were certainly a welcome upgrade as they singlehandedly transform this SUV from a six-figure, soccer mom mobile to a ride worthy of your favorite European mobster.

Interior: The pearl white Porcelain Nappa designo leather interior is certainly sexy yet I would probably be afraid to actually have it in my daily driver as it would probably get quite dirty. Nonetheless, the quilted, perforated seats are both comfortable and attractive. The seats are also properly ventilated for the seat coolers and/or warmers that come in handy year-round. The GL550 boasts a three-row seating configuration that can accommodate up to seven people and the third row is power folding. If you need to move a box or two, the GL500 is up for the challenge as the seats lay perfectly flat and provide ample room for cargo. I was actually able to put both the second and third rows of seating down and easily transport a 65-inch TV among other items without a problem.

A/V: The Harman/kardon LOGIC7 surround sound system was an aural pleasure and defied the large cabin space to produce some stellar acoustics. I had a little trouble with the COMAND system in regards to toggling between SAT radio channels and iPhone integration but after I got everything dialed in it wasn’t too much of a problem. For the most part, I utilized the Bluetooth audio, which seemed to be the best way to go as opposed to connecting to the USB or supplied Apple lighting connector. The Surround View camera system is probably the best system I’ve used of its kind utilizing four cameras strategically place around the vehicle to deliver one fabricated, overhead image that is very helpful when parking a vehicle of this size.

Performance: Although the GL550 weighs over 5500 pounds, it feels hundreds less due to the AIRMATIC suspension and power under the hood. For the power plant, there’s a 4.7-liter, twin-turbo V8 pumping out 429 horses and most importantly 516 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are evident when passing a slow-moving vehicle, accelerating from a stop light or simply cruising at high speeds. Driving the GL550 around town is far quite enjoyable and far from cumbersome like other large SUVs which makes this SUV a winner in my book. The only issue I had when driving the GL550 is the Curve Assist, which is designed to keep you on the road when/if you start to veer off course. This system, although great in theory, certainly takes some getting used to and it can get downright scary the first couple times the system is enabled. That being said, the Curve Assist system is the ultimate driving-while-texting deterrent.

Final Verdict: If you have a moderate-sized family and the necessary disposable income, there simply isn’t a better way to spend $100k.

Damage: $102, 770.00

Power: 429 hp, 516 lb-ft

0-60: 5.5 sec

Gas Cash: 15 MPG (combined)

This review was streamed LIVE on Periscope on the @CarReviews channel on Periscope