MPG-o-Matic 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC Review Summary: The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC is one of the most fuel-efficient seven-passenger luxury SUVs on the road today. From the calm and comfort within the GL350’s well-crafted cabin, one can only wonder why so many manufacturers have been slow to embrace clean diesel as the ideal solution for premium vehicles.
The seven-passenger all-wheel-drive (AWD) 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC is fitted with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 clean diesel engine, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with two overdrive gears. The GL350 BlueTEC’s V6 produces 210 horsepower and 400 foot pounds of torque. The seven-speed driver-adaptive automatic can be manually shifted with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The official fuel economy estimates for the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC are 17 city / 23 highway miles per gallon (MPG).
We travelled over five hundred miles in our handsome Barolo Red review unit and trounced the official mileage estimates, scoring an average of 30.4 MPG on the Interstate highway and 23.7 MPG combined.
The official estimates appear to be rather conservative, but one thing is clear … drive the clean diesel GL350 BlueTEC with a light foot and you will be amply rewarded.
Overall test period temperatures ranged from from the high thirties through the low seventies. Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the high sixties through low seventies. The test vehicle was delivered with just over 7200 miles on the odometer and was equipped with the standard 20-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, clad with 275/50R20 all-season run-flat tires.
Interstate Mileage Testing:
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, heat off, windows up: 29.1 MPG
Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, heat off, windows up: 31.7 MPG
The 2010 GL350 BlueTEC requires ultra-low-sulfur diesel or B5 bio diesel and is equipped with a 26.4 gallon fuel tank and 3.4 gallon reserve. This allows for an astounding amount of range … especially when driven with a light foot.
The turbo V6 doesn’t sound or smell like the diesels of yore. AdBlue, an urea-based fluid, is injected into the exhaust to reduce NOx levels. (Although some have complained about the added cost of AdBlue, we’d like to see the fluid provided free of charge, throughout the warranty period.)
While the clean diesel engine is both smooth and powerful, off the line performance bears testament to the GL350 BlueTEC’s 5,423 pound curb weight.
The GL350 keeps the driver informed with a center-mounted multifunction display that is navigated via steering wheel-mounted controls. The multifunction display allows the driver’s eyes to stay centered, as it delivers a wealth of data, including our favorite, the real-time fuel economy gauge. Driving with the real-time MPG gauge active encourages a fuel-efficient light-footed driving style.
In addition to fuel economy information, the multifunction display provides trip meters, range to empty, average fuel economy, average mile per hour, oil-check, and maintenance system displays, along with navigation cues, mobile phonebook, and audio information.
While many seven-seat SUVs can be truly ponderous to drive, not so the unibody GL350 BlueTEC. Mercedes-Benz engineering delivers ride and handling that’s superior to body-on-frame SUVs. The four-wheel AIRMATIC suspension allows the GL350’s ride height to be raised or lowered three inches to adapt to road conditions.
The GL350’s full-time 4MATIC four-wheel-drive uses an electronic traction system (4-ETS) to monitor each wheel individually. If a wheel loses traction, braking is applied to that wheel, while power is shifted to the wheel or wheels that have maintained traction.
The cabin is spacious, luxurious, and well-appointed, as one would expect.
While burl walnut trim is standard issue, leather seating surfaces are optional. A pair of sunroofs open the interior up to the great outdoors, although the rear sunroof is fixed.
The eight-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system features a 6.5-inch LCD display and the Mercedes-Benz COMAND interface. USB iPod support, navigation, and a back-up camera are standard, along with Bluetooth connectivity (with phonebook download). The USB interface and auxiliary input are located in the glovebox. iPod integration is properly done, with Artists, Albums, and Playlists accessible from the head unit.
Eight-way power adjustable front seats with three-level heating are standard, as is four-way pneumatic lumbar support in the driver’s seat. Front seat ventilation is optional. The dual-zone automatic climate control system includes a dust and pollen filter.
Our test unit was chock full of additional options, including: a wood/leather steering wheel, duel-screen rear seat entertainment, cashmere leather seating, and premium interior and exterior lighting packages. (At this price level, one might expect a full leather interior and high-end lighting as standard equipment.)
There are three twelve-volt outlets: one at the base of the dash, one at the back of the console, and one in the cargo area, where you’ll also find an 115-volt outlet.
The second row seating is spacious and comfortable with plenty of leg (39.5 inches), head (40.6 inches), and shoulder (58.9 inches) room. The third row can actually accommodate grownups, unlike too many seven-seaters. The process of getting in and out of the third row is simplified through easy-entry/easy-exit controls.
The cargo area allows for 14.3 cubic feet of storage with the third row seats up, 43.8 cubic feet with the third row down, and 83.8 cubic feet with both the second and third row seats folded flat. The third row seats fold flat with the push of a button.
Not enough space to haul your stuff? The GL350 BlueTEC has a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds.
Worth Noting: Mercedes-Benz provides a four-year/50,000 mile warranty and a 24-hour roadside assistance program.
All-in-all, the clean-diesel-powered 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC proves that a full-size SUV can be both luxurious and fuel-efficient. If you’re energy conscious, with folks to haul and the financial means, the GL350 BlueTEC should be on your short list.
– by Daniel Gray
May 5th, 2010
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