It's a busy year for prestige seven-seater 4x4s in 2006, with Mercedes the latest to unveil a new large off-road model.
Shown here for the first time, the GL will sit above the ML in Mercedes’ range, and go on sale towards the end of next year. It will compete head on with the Audi Q7, which can be ordered now, and the new BMW X5, which is also expected to appear at the end of 2006.
The GL will be shown for the first time at the Detroit Motor Show in January and is likely to cost at least £45,000. Click on the 'more pictures' button to see a gallery of the GL, Q7 and a pair of exclusive computer-generated images of the BMW X5.
The GL is significantly longer than the ML, as well as taller and wider, so Mercedes boasts that its final pair of seats in the third row are full size, and not just for children. They fold away electrically at the touch of a button, to leave a flat load bed with 1240 litres of space.
Maximum carrying capacity is an enormous 2300 litres when the second row is folded away, and the load compartment is capable of taking items of more than 2.1 metres long.
Passengers in all three rows are protected by curtain airbags, while side airbags are available for the second row as an option. Mercedes says the GL will also take 4x4's pedestrian safety to a new level, although details have not yet been released.
Four engines are being lined up for the car: 335bhp GL450 and 383bhp GL500 petrols, and GL320 and GL420 CDI diesels. All will use the Mercedes seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Four-wheel drive, air suspension, a two-speed transfer case and locking differentials also lead the manufacturer to claim that the GL can handle 'the most extreme' conditions off-road.
Detailed performance figures will be released in the new year.
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
Up to the minute news from around the globe