Like a supertanker navigating the Panama Canal, the car is a tight squeeze for most parking spaces, and if the car next to you has been abandoned inconsiderately, there is much tummy sucking to do to get back behind the steering wheel. Many drivers will also find themselves using the showy running boards as a door step.
Once aboard, however, the GL doesn’t disappoint. The dashboard architecture is almost exactly the same as that found in the smaller ML we tested last year, so it’s visually appealing without any unnecessary showiness beyond a dusting of aluminium trim. The brashness is there but it’s all behind you, a built-in result of so much enclosed, clothed, trimmed and carpeted space.
Mercedes says there have been marginal gains over its predecessor in shoulder, elbow and headroom in all three rows of seating, although the 9mm gleaned from the roofline right at the back is likely to be the most consequential. Very few alleged seven-seaters have a legitimate claim to seating their full capacity in comfort, but the GL comes far closer than most to fulfilling the brief.