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The long haul
We recently took the 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL320 BlueTEC from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back to see just how green the BlueTEC can be.
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The GL320 is powered by a 3-liter turbodiesel V-6 which outputs 210 horsepower and generates 398 pound-feet of torque. That's more torque than the GL550's 5.4-liter gasoline V-8!
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While acceleration from a stop suffered slightly, the GL320 BlueTEC was able to top the EPA fuel economy estimate of 23 highway mpg.
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The BlueTEC diesel engine is approved for use with B5 biodiesel fuel.
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Up to 80 percent of NOx emissions are scrubbed thanks to the BlueTEC's AdBlue exhaust injection system.
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An optional power liftgate opens and closes at the touch of a button.
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Third row seating
A third row of seats folds flat to increase storage space when carrying less than seven passengers.
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Rear seat entertainment
Rear seat entertainment in handled by two seatback-mounted LCD screens.
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Leather and wood appointed interior
The GL's leather trimmed interior isolates passengers from the outside world. The high seating position made us feel that we were sitting on top of a car, rather than inside of an SUV.
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Power adjustable steering wheel
The power adjustable steering wheel features redundant controls for audio, helping users keep their attention on the road.
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This monochrome LCD shows useful information such as current song, turn-by-turn directions, and fuel economy.
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At the base of the center stack sit the controls for the Adaptive Damping system, the Airmatic suspension (which increases ground clearance by 3 inches), and hill descent and off-road program modes.
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The hard-drive based navigation system is quick and responsive, but the graphics pale in comparison to systems we've seen from Lexus. Additionally, the d-pad based COMAND system is a pain to use.
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Traffic data is beamed into the GL's navigation system, which shows incidents and congestion along your chosen route.
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Advanced GPS options
The GPS system can display advanced information such as heading and latitude/longitude, but hides more basic information, such as time or distance to destination, under submenus.
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The Harmon/Kardon audio system sounds fantastic in the GL's quiet cabin. Over the air audio sources include HD Radio and Sirius satellite radio, along with standard AM/FM tuning.
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Users have multiple options for playing back their digital audio, including a six disc DVD/CD changer with MP3 playback, an SD card slot, 4GB of Music Register storage, plus USB/iPod connectivity.
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Tucked in the glove compartment is the optional iPod interface cable, which shares a connection with the analog aux-input.
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Logic7 surround sound
The Logic7 audio processing outputs sound in Dolby digital 5.1 surround.
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Bluetooth hands free
The GL's Bluetooth hands-free system is easy to setup. We particularly like that it will automatically pull in your contacts.