By on April 18, 2008

gl320_bluetec-img_5154.jpgI flew into Los Angeles with aspirations of driving something powerful; I had visions of some mighty motor displacing six liters or more. Anything with the letters AMG on the back would have suited me just fine. Instead I was staring at a gigantic Mercedes GL 320 CDI. That's CDI as in "diesel." I reckoned it was going to be a long drive to San Diego. I reckoned wrong.

Walking around the Mercedes GL class, I struggled to find inspiration. The SUV's descending belt line and downwards sloping swage lines create a forward facing arrow-like shape– which does an excellent job of hiding the GL's massive bulk. It's a Midwest corn silo SUV; the closer you get, the more amazed you are at its size. But the overall effect is squared off and blunt, even workmanlike. The GL's snout– complete with bootylicious big Benz badge– rescues the beast from invisibility on both the brand and design level.   

I climbed up the side of the beast, planted myself behind the wheel and began looking for the CB radio, finding only the usual Mercedes COMAND stack. The view from the driver's throne is certainly commanding– as long as your viewing angle doesn't dip lower than 30 degrees below the horizon. Beneath that, all things are invisible– small children, motorcycles, Toyotas.

mercedes-benz_gl-class-img_4071.jpgThe GL320's materials quality isn't up to Range Rover's "tough luxury," but the assembly is outstanding. The ‘Bama-built Benz looks and feels built to last (as in longevity, not relative traffic position). Less enjoyably, the not-so-cheap tester's range of adjustments and toys were quite limited, and the sound system's quality and functionality had me searching for my IPod. On the positive side, the GL's interior space utilization and practicality– multiple seat flips, cupholders, cubbies, etc.–  is ideal for a large family with a gaggle of messy tikes.

Including the conjunction, the big Benz' driving experience can be summed up in three words: imperious and impervious. Straight line driving is dreamy and plush, with no vibrations to speak of. Other than that… the GL 320's limited visibility rules-out quick and aggressive lane changes; every move requires careful planning. Fortunately, I was only required to turn twice in 100 miles, so I didn't have much opportunity to experience the pleasures of helming the leaning tower of Benz.

The GL 320 CDI's steering was a tad vague at the straight ahead and the brakes oddly squishy, but the dynamics were wholly appropriate with the rest of the driving experience. I wasn't bothered about testing the stoppers' performance in a panic stop; I felt I could pretty much run over or through anything that crossed my path without noticing (save in a legal and moral sense). Cruising along serenely, captain of a dreadnought class vehicle, I instantly understood why these giant SUV populate the American interstates.

r320_bluetec-img_8586.jpgAnd if perchance I ventured to Big Bear, I felt confident the GL 320 could handle anything nature threw my way. Like most Mercedes owners/drivers, I've seen the commercials. What more do you want? One button off-road handling and traction gizmo recalibration? Done. Seventy-five hundred pounds of towing capacity? Riva owners of the world rejoice!

The GL 320 CDI's diesel engine's performance is extremely well suited to the vehicle's mellow mission. Although the GL CDI's 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 powerplant produces "only" 215hp, the oil-burning SUV drives like a tsunami. It accumulates speed relentlessly, surfing on a never-ending wave of torque (398 lb-ft @ 1,600 – 2,800 rpm). The truck had enough power to indulge every passing whim with calm assurance, while tree stumps quivered in fear.

Given the GL's 5313 pound curb weight and the aforementioned braking pillow-cum-pedal, I had to temper my accelerative enthusiasm, lest I evoke runaway train metaphors. Pricing for this leviathan starts in the mid $50k's, but quickly makes its way into the $70k's.

gl320_cdi-img_5573.jpgAnd speaking of money– or at least political correctness– anyone who purchases a giant SUV must, at some point, face the mileage issue. The BlueTec diesel powering the GL 320 CDI offers a great salve to the well-heeled, environmentally-conscience SUV driver. I managed 23 mpg at a steady state 80mph. In EPA terms, the GL320 CDI represents a 30 percent improvement over its gas-equivalent.

At last, the best of the German-engineered modern diesel engines are making their way to the US of A, erasing all memories of the Detroit's abortive efforts in the 1970s. These next gen diesels offer significant fuel saving, cleanliness and outstanding drivability. And now that we're finally getting great diesels, the price of the fuel has rendered mileage gains moot, and obviated rational contemplation of the diesel engine's price premium. 

gl320_cdi-img_5572.jpgBut don't let this hinder your consideration of a diesel-powered truck or car. If you appreciate torquey smooth performance, the GL320 CDI's diesel is the next best thing to a powerful, thirsty, expensive, CO2-belching V12.

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42 Comments on “2008 Mercedes-Benz GL 320 CDI Review...”


  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Great review. I find the GL SUV a very well equipped alternative to the almighty Escalade, plus it comes with a diesel and gets better gas mileage.

  • avatar
    AKM

    The big Benz’ driving experience can be summed up in three words: imperious and impervious. Straight line driving is dreamy and plush, with no vibrations to speak of. Other than that… the GL 320′s limited visibility ruled-out quick and aggressive lane changes; every move required careful planning.

    Very well said. If only all the wealthy soccer moms who drive those behemoths (they’re now officially more popular than Cayennes and X5s in the whole foods parking lot) had the same train (!) of thought, instead of yapping on their cellphones, oblivious to the fact that they threatened dozens’ of people lives on their way.

  • avatar
    SCMTB

    I happened to ride in one of these a few months ago (it was the v8 version) and while I generally despise these behemoths I was very impressed with it’s overall feel of quality. Seemed very stable and like you said, very smooth and without vibration. The owner of the one I rode in had a Land Rover Disco that he claimed was in the shop weekly and he’d never buy one again. The MB, he said, was the best car he’d ever owned and he had a fair # of miles on it and hand’t had “any” problems (I mention this due to MB’s recent spat of reliability issues). None the less, the G felt like a true “luxury” vehicle.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    I saw the GL at the Dallas Auto Show and didn’t get a feeling of huge size from it. Of course, we just traded a Suburban last year, so my frame of reference is different.

    Given the space inside the GL, I think they did a good job keeping it as small as they did.

  • avatar
    RayH

    That tow capacity is impressive. What’s the Tahoe Hybrid tow, 6500lbs? Not that it’s a small amount, but anyone wanting to tow who isn’t even interested in Luxury might consider this because of the MPG’s. I imagine the towing under load drops the MPG’s of the Tahoe a whole lot, whereas this one probably doesn’t nearly as much. I hate to sound like a snob, but I would take this over a Hybrid Tahoe, provided I could get the mid-50k version. Nice review.

  • avatar

    When I first saw this review, I thought, oh no, not another luxo-barge review. There have been quite a few lately. However, this one was a surprise, 23mpg? A lesson to Detroit here.

    If mega-SUV’s are dinosaurs, this will MB is a fitting epitaph to the species.

  • avatar
    N85523

    I’ve always been curious why diesel horsepower ratings seem derated. I guess they make up for it in torque.

  • avatar
    USAFMech

    I am not an owner but it’s on my short list of next vehicle purchases.

    The interior gets great marks, the ride is smooth and the engine has balls. Then:

    “If you appreciate torquey smooth performance, the GL320 CDI’s diesel is the next best thing to a powerful, thirsty, expensive, CO2-belching V12.”

    …And only 3 stars?

    Maybe I’m missing something. Is there a third-rower that is better?

  • avatar
    ash78

    I wonder if they’ll ever offer than level of tuning in the CAR version? Do they even offer the E320cdi anymore, or has it been axed?

    That kind of power might step on the toes of the gassers, which will always sell a lot better (especially with diesel at such a premium now)

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    When this huge diesel SUV is getting 23mpg cruising up and down SoCal’s freeways and the USAToday-Healey review of the Jag XF Supercharged averaged 13mpg, something is really messed up.
    Even though diesel is more expensive and is erasing the cost savings of the better mileage and the higher up-front costs to purchase, that is a lot less CO2 and pollution compared to the gas-burner. Get the diesel and live with the feeling that you’ve just started a huge train moving forward with all of that torque.

  • avatar
    solo84

    ash78,

    check out MB’s E series Bluetec. :)

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    @theflyersfan: Even though diesel is more expensive and is erasing the cost savings of the better mileage

    I guess that depends on the area. Where I live (Silicon Valley), diesel is ca. 10% over the cost of unleaded. With 30% in fuel efficiency gains, it still makes a lot of sense.

  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    If you drove 20,000 miles/yr that’d save you what, $750? Not much incentive when you have to pay ~$70k to get there. Big deal…

  • avatar
    tms1999

    I’ve always been curious why diesel horsepower ratings seem derated. I guess they make up for it in torque.

    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question622.htm

    Torque and Peak horse power are related, and calculates like this:

    Power = (Torque x RPM) / 5,252

    Diesel engines have lower max RPM, so their peak horse power is lower. But their torque is higher, it means they push harder, give more acceleration, but require to upshift sooner.

    Horsepower is a nice marketing number. That’s where the manufacturer have been fighting (and done a really good job at) to push that one number in the head of the public.

    However, it’s the torque that moves the car. It’s the torque measured in the usable RPM band that determines acceleration.

  • avatar
    ash78

    solo84
    I thought the E320cdi had been discontinued. Apparently it doesn’t have the urea filtration and is still not fully legal in the CARB-compliant states (lease exception allowed). The next revision should take care of that completely.

    I thought it was just gone.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    FlyersFan – diesel contains 30% more BTU’s per gallon than gasoline. It’s simply more energy dense. There are other reasons (thermodynamics) why diesels return better miles per gallon, but the CO2 emissions advantage isn’t as great at it seems looking at MPG. Having said that, if diesel is 30% more $/gal than gas, you’re paying the same money per BTU.

    I’m currently loving my 1985 S-class diesel. 28 MPG and 2,000 Kg tow rating. No AWD unfortunately, but the price tag wasn’t north of $50K either…..

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    If you drove 20,000 miles/yr that’d save you what, $750? Not much incentive when you have to pay ~$70k to get there. Big deal…

    The proper comparison is with the price premium you pay to get the diesel engine versus a gasoline engine. Assuming current prices for deisel (~$4.20) and regular unleaded here in California (~$3.80) and 15,000 miles per year, after seven years the diesel will have recaptured a price premium of approximately $4,900. This of course assumes equal percent increases in diesel and gasoline.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Nice review

    Diesel fuel is still harmful to the environment worst than unleaded gasoline.

    Too much smoke when the engine gets older and
    very hard to find a gas station that sells diesel.

  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    Lumbergh21 :

    Its even better when you look at the Grand Cherokee, and forgive me if this has already been talked about.

    Limited 4×4, direct from Jeep
    4.7L-V8, 19mpg hwy, msrp 39,285
    3.0L Diesel, 22mpg hwy, msrp 40,940

    If you drive 15000m/yr, assuming $3.60 for gas and $4.20 for diesel (yes, I know they change), the diesel costs you $20 MORE to run.

    You mean, I can never recover the initial cost hit with my amazing mileage savings?? Sign me up!

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Is the extra space worth the extra 10 grand over the ML version?

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Another interesting fact. H. P. and torque are always equal to each other at 5252 rpm.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Diesel only costs a premium if you don’t get it out of your oil furnace tank…. Little tougher to do in the winter, but I knew someone who did it.

    Disclaimer, have an oil tank, don’t have a diesel, never have ;)

    Just paid my AMT based fed and state taxes. If I did have a diesel, I’d be looking to screw them right back. Paid so much extra that it would take decades to recoup.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    Diesel is the consumer’s choice in Europe and in many other parts of the world, not because Diesel motors are inherently superior to gasoline motors, but because many nations levy heavy taxes on gasoline, but not on Diesel fuel. In environmental matters, the debate goes on about the impact of Diesel engines on the environment. Having written that, I’d buy an Audi A6 or A8 with a Diesel engine if such a car were ever offered in the USA.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Diesel engines are used in automobiles, generators, light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles as well as railroad locomotives. When diesel fuel burns in an engine, the resulting exhaust is made up of soot and gases representing thousands of different chemical substances. 90% of the soot consists of <1u diameter particles that can be inhaled and deposited in the lungs. Diesel exhaust contains 20-100 times more particles than gasoline exhaust. These particles carry absorbed cancer causing substances known as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)’s.

    The gases in diesel exhaust can also create health problems. The top eight are listed here:
    nitrous oxide
    nitrogen dioxide
    formaldehyde
    benzene
    sulfur dioxide
    hydrogen sulfide
    carbon dioxide
    carbon monoxide.
    Those most likely to be occupationally exposed to diesel exhaust include bridge, tunnel and loading dock workers, auto mechanics, toll booth collectors, truck and forklift drivers and people who work near areas where diesel powered vehicles are used, stored and maintained.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    gimmeamanual :

    I was basing my calculations on the stated 30% improvement in mileage for the diesel variant of the Mercedes. Obviously, the diesel Jeep doesn’t provide much of an advantage over the gasoline variant in terms of fuel efficiency.

    When hybrids first came out, I would scoff at people talking about the money they were saving buying a hybrid. I’m ready to admit that it makes economic sense now with the price of gas pushing $4. But, at anything under $2 per gallon, you would never recoup the extra cost of buying a hybrid.

  • avatar
    SWA737

    http://www.biodiesel.org/

  • avatar
    marc

    The EPA estimates annual fuel costs of $3045 a year, an air pollution score of 1 (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being best), 10.6 annual tons of CO2. Doesnt sound all that great to me.

    The Tahoe hybrid, in comparison would cost $2420 a year, has an air pollution score of 6, emits 8.7 tons of CO2. You can imagine that the upcoming Escalade hybrid will match those numbers.

    If you must have a luxury Ute, the best is clearly still the RX400h (smaller, I know). $2166 a year in fuel costs, air pollution score of 8, 7.3 annual tons of CO2. And it’s quick too!

    I know which one I would get.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but I feel the need to say this because just about nobody seems to fully understand the meaning and relationship between torque and horsepower.

    Torque is great, but people who spout off that it’s the measure of how well a vehicle can accelerate don’t have the full story. *Output* torque *at the wheels* is the ultimate measure of how well a vehicle will accelerate (from a given speed). What people don’t realize is that the gearbox is a torque multiplier. You can use different gear ratios to trade RPM for torque, or vice-versa.

    Yeah, I know the quotes: “Horsepower sells cars, torque wins races.” Then tell me this: why do race bikes, race cars, sports cars, snowmobiles, and just about anything that’s meant to go quick, have significantly higher horsepower ratings than torque? Who are the Formula 1 race teams “selling” these numbers to, considering they engineer their engines in order to win races and make themselves look good?

    The measure of how well an engine can accelerate is based on how much work it can do in a given period of time. And by definition, Power = work/time. Look at it this way: say you have two guys trying to get a load of lumber moved across a construction site. Guy A is huge and strong and can take a whole bunch of lumber in one trip. However, he’s slow. Guy B on the other hand, is toned but not very robust. He has to take more trips in order to move all the lumber. But he can move very quickly, so he can make up for the fact that he can’t move much at a time by making more trips. Net, he can get the job done conceivably quicker than Guy A.

    It’s the same thing with engines. A diesel engine offers great torque, which is great for day-to-day driving, since it doesn’t force you to rev the engine to get good power. As a result it feels responsive in the RPM range where you’re normally cruising around in. It pulls great from a stop, where no matter the gearing, your RPM’s are going to be low. (Mad clutch-slipping to get the revs up in a low-torque engine isn’t great to have to do all the time.) However, as has already been said, a diesel can’t rev high. It simply can’t breathe well/fast enough to continue to produce good torque at high revs. Since Power = Torque * RPM/5252, you can see that a diesel isn’t great for generating high peak horsepower figures.

    A high revving, low torque engine is the opposite. Let’s take a sportbike engine, because they’re the perfect example. Because it’s small and has a short stroke, it doesn’t generate much torque. However, it spins ungodly fast and can continue to produce torque at high RPM’s. It’s the little guy who carries his light loads very quickly. As a result, you get great peak hp numbers (modern sport bikes are getting in the neighbourhood of 180hp/litre of displacement). But you have to rev the sucker to do it.

    Assuming ideal gearing to get peak power all the time (while not ideal, today’s close-ratio gearboxes do a very good job at keeping the engine in its powerband), and all else being equal, 2 engines with the same horsepower rating have the same ability to accelerate a vehicle. Which engine has more torque makes no difference in that scenario.

    The reason that torque numbers are quoted is because it lets you know HOW the engine makes its power. A torquier engine means its powerband is more accessible, which has benefits in all sorts of situations.

    But at the end of the day, horsepower is the measurement that will tell you how well the thing will accelerate when your foot’s to the floor and the engine in its powerband sweet spot.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    @BEAT, are you talking about diesel engines from 10 years ago, or Chinese cargo fleet burning bunker oil? Modern diesel engines allowed in cars in California use ULSD (fewer than 15 ppm), and have catalytic particulate filters. In many respects they are cleaner than gasoline engines.

    What area of the country do you live in?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    so, a stupidly large vehicle that gets soemwhat better milage than other stupidly large vehicles.

    is that about it? Did I leave something out?

    Oh.

  • avatar
    SAAB95JD

    I’ve always been curious why diesel horsepower ratings seem derated. I guess they make up for it in torque.

    Yes, diesels horsepower is generally lower, but the torque rating is MUCH better.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    @JuniperBug: well said.

    A 180hp bike engine will accelerate a truck/SUV, or anything as well as a 180hp diesel engine AS LONG as the gearing is there to allow it to stay in its power band.

    BTW, diesel engines can’t rev above 5,000rpm or so simply because diesel fuel (which is in droplet form, not an atomized vapor) won’t burn fast enough to do so; it’s not a “breathing” issue, but a “burning” issue. No amount of boost can make a diesel rev faster.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Thanks for that Paul. I thought it had to do with long strokes with limited valve openings, and the high cylinder pressures involved with diesels, but your explanation makes a lot of sense.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    FlyersFan – diesel contains 30% more BTU’s per gallon than gasoline. It’s simply more energy dense. There are other reasons (thermodynamics) why diesels return better miles per gallon, but the CO2 emissions advantage isn’t as great at it seems looking at MPG. Having said that, if diesel is 30% more $/gal than gas, you’re paying the same money per BTU.

    Another issue with diesel is that is not an answer for energy independence. A barrel of crude when refined produces less diesel than it does gasoline. The energy conversion potential of the engine is better, hence the higher mileage, but it is not enough to offset what is “lost” in refining. So from a “well to wheel” point of view there is no free lunch. However, for some vehicle types there is real advantage to long term durability that is offered by diesel.

    The MB solution to the emission problem with urea injection seems intelligent but I have great doubts about motorists actually refilling the urea tank unless a “low urea” indicator light means an automatic inspection failure. You would think the high cost of the vehicle itself would indicate a willingness to spend what is necessary to make sure it is maintained properly but that is not the case. My wife’s father owned a successful repair facility for years and he can attest to the fact that there is no correlation between vehicle cost and willingness to maintain. It was not at all uncommon for someone to bring in their “ultimate driving machine” with dead struts and having the owner deciding that it was not “necessary” to change them. Hard to have an “ultimate” experience with a worn suspension, no? More evidence that brand cachet has more to do with purchase choice than anything else.

  • avatar

    The limited visibility is what I remember most from my own test drive. Not just to the rear, but to the forward quarters as well. Other than that, drives much better than anything this large ought to.

    TrueDelta has been able to provide an astrisked result for the GL–the asterisk for a marginal sample size. The repair rate has been about 50 percent worse than the average, but not awful. Figure one successful repair trip per year initially.

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    rpenna

    I’d like to think anyone shelling out $70,000 for an SUV isn’t towing their boat with it. They pay the couple grand a year to have their boat sit in the water in its own slip.

    Debadge this thing and most people would have trouble telling you whether it was a Mercedes or a Chevy.

    Diesel here is 25% more than regular gas, so there’s really no savings when it comes to fuel.

    At least while Audi is watering down their lineup, they’re turning out some decent looking automobiles. Meanwhile BMW and MB seem like they’re being surpassed by domestics when it comes to styling, so kudos to the domestic manufacturers in that respect.

    I still think the Escalade is at the top of this segment when it comes to looks. This thing looks more like a (bland, 4 year old) GM product than the Escalade does. And really, when it comes to the $70,000 SUVs, things like torque and handling aren’t what their target markets care about anyway. They care about nice leather, shiny rims and the badge on the front.

  • avatar
    shaker

    As has been said here, Diesel (these days) is a selling point for the uneducated. Massive amounts of torque means that mommy won’t have to press the “go pedal” as hard to get this barge up to speed. But, the first time mommy gets to fuel this thing at the “self-serve”, she’ll find out (the high price, long, heavy hose, the smell of her hands after filling up) it’s a Faustian bargain…

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Is TTAC clearing the editorial backlot of SUVs before nobody wants any of them?

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    @shaker: Diesel (these days) is a selling point for the uneducated

    Condescension rarely makes for a convincing argument, particularly when all the support presented is:

    long, heavy hose, the smell of her hands after filling up

    Wow. That is so different from gasoline.

  • avatar
    shaker

    hwyhobo :
    But I’m not running for President, either… ;-)

    By “uneducated” I meant those who are unaware that the previous advantages of diesel have lately been eclipsed by the high price of the fuel itself, and the disadvantages are not going to be in the salesman’s spiel when he sells a soccer mom an oil-burner for a premium price.
    Even long-haul truckers have seen the near-total loss of the enhanced efficiency of diesel, now that the price more closely reflects the percentage of a barrel of oil (that has increased to outrageous levels) that diesel represents.
    And (at least at the local Exxon/Mobil station) the diesel pump’s hose is a lot longer (I assume for dual-tank fueling), and even with the retractor, drags on the ground, so it’s covered with dirt and diesel fuel “drippings”. It can easily drag against your leg while refueling, leaving an ‘aromatic’ residue behind. I know this because I recently had to refuel a rental Isuzu diesel box truck helping a friend move.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Yes ten years ago??

    Yes 10 years ago is still being used UNTIL today all over the world especially in Third World Countries.

    Oh hwyhobo!!! check those trucks on 95 and 93 or your local inter-state
    Do they still used Diesel engine from 10 years ago?

    Yes we live in the United Stated doesn’t mean the consumer can afford newer diesel engines.

    If a trucker can afford those kind of Diesel engine his a rich guy.

    But still diesel is still bad for the environment

    That’s MY POINT.

  • avatar
    Chris

    Hello, I am a 2008 ML320 CDI owner – the leaner, meaner, quicker, and more effecient brother of the GL.

    My post is to provide meaningful commentary and to catch up anyone who is interested in the article and the vehicle.

    First off, Beat: We’re not discussing other vehicles with older technology diesel engines, the topic is GL320 CDI. It emmission profile is nowhere near that frightful list you posted earlier. Plus biodiesel mixtures can be burned which further reduces your emmissions profile. Plus you can brew the fuel at home if the economy every really collapses.

    Regarding how much diesel you get from dinojuice (oil): light sweet crude (which there is less and less of) renders more gasoline per barrel. Heavy sour crude yields more diesel. Right now the diesel price inflation is due to a couple things, 1) us coming out of winter where fuel oil production competes with diesel, and increasing registrations of diesel vehicles worldwide.

    As production shifts to accomodate this trend prices will equalize with respect to gasoline. It is cheaper and takes less energy to refine. This is the first time in my life that I’ve seen diesel so expensive vs. gasoline, 18 months ago it was cheaper than regular. Times changes, things change, this is highly unusual.

    That said, even with the current price structure here in Florida diesel costs about 13% more than premium ($4.30/gal vs. $3.80). Premium is what you would have to put in a gasoline engine Benzer. But you still get the 30+% better fuel effeciency so it more than makes up for the price. Plus you go longer in between fillups so that a distinct luxury. More than 50% of all fillup stations have diesel.

    In my ML320 CDI I have averaged better than 27MPG over the past 17,000 miles. This is 15% city traffic, 25% rural highway, and 60% freeway (FL turnpike). And I’m not an annoying hypermiler, routinely exceeding the speed limit by 2 – 5 MPH or even more. Just avoid fast starts and don’t *accelerate* towards the dang red light that’s in front of you and you will save money. BTW I also average 725 miles in-between fillups. That’s priceless. If you get 20MPG in a gasoline ML I would be surprised. I’ve read about diesel GL owners routinely averaging 26MPG but can’t speak for them. In both cases (ML and GL) awesome effeciency figures for large 4WD luxury SUVs.

    Diesel vehicles also hold their value better. Go to the kelly blue book website and see how much a 2 year old diesel VW jetta is worth vs. it’s gasoline counterpart.

    I am immensely thrilled with my ML diesel and would highly recommend it to folks who can afford it and don’t need the 3rd row of seats. The radar cruise control and air suspension options are incredible. Get the 2008 diesel while you can before the 2009′s come out with the urea addition system and the added complexity which is introduced.

    Finally it’s the *interior* of a car that you see day in and day out. The interior of my vehicle (and the GL) is top notch, awesome layout, ergonomic design, and incredibly quiet. No comparison to a GM product.


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