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Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV

Mercedes-Benz announced a new SUV for the U.S. market, called the GL-Class. This big, luxury SUV gets a 335-horsepower 4.6-liter V-8 engine, mated to Mercedes-Benz's new seven-speed automatic transmission. For its off-road systems, it uses Mercedes-Benz's 4MATIC full-time four-wheel drive, an air suspension with adjustable ride height, and an off-road setting for its antilock brakes. The GL will be the big brother to the ML-Class and will launch at the Detroit Auto Show in mid-January.

I can think of two reasons why Mercedes-Benz is launching a large SUV in the wake of apparently declining overall SUV sales. First, the GL-Class has independent four-wheel suspension, a carlike build that offers a much more comfortable ride than the traditional ladder-frame construction of big SUVs. Aging baby boomers are going to appreciate the softer ride. Second, the R-Class may not succeed in its mission to launch a new segment, so the GL serves to hedge Mercedes-Benz's bets.