This seven-seater will have its world premier at next month's Detroit Motor Show.
Bigger GL to slot in above M-Class
It is specifically aimed at the US market and as with the M-Class and R-Class it is to be produced at DaimlerChrysler's Tuscoloosa plant.
However, it will make its way to Europe in September 2006, which could mean that South Africa may get it in the final quarter of 2006.
There is little doubt that the GL will be one of the biggest SUVs on the road and it is 5088 mm long, 1920 mm wide and 1840 mm tall.
According to Mercedes the GL offers a very spacious cabin too and occupants still enjoy good freedom of movement even on the two full-sized individual seats in the third row of seats.
The distance to the middle row of seats is 815 mm, with 979 mm headroom for passengers. If you need fewer seats, the rear individual seats can be stowed electrically at the push of a button, either individually or in tandem to provide a completely flat load surface.
In the five-seater version, luggage compartment capacity is 1240 litres and the GL-Class can provide up to 2300 litres of load capacity, with the load compartment measuring 2128 mm in length.
Mercedes says that the GL-Class makes full use of the advantages of its unitised body, combining optimum strength with intelligent lightweight steel design, which results in good passive safety.
It is also available with Merc's PRE-SAFE preventive occupant protection system.
The GL-Class also takes the often neglected issue of pedestrian protection to a new level. The front section includes precisely defined ample crumple space between the body and the major assemblies underneath.
In conjunction with impact zones that are designed to yield, this design provides a high degree of protection both for pedestrians and cyclists.
In terms of off-road capabilities the GL comes with Merc's 4MATIC permanent four-wheel drive system. This is complimented with AIRMATIC air suspension and the ADS Adaptive Damper System.
Special off-road features such as Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR), hill-start assist and off-road ABS assist the GL-Class driver off road.
There is also an Off-Road Pro engineering package available which includes a two-speed transfer case with a low range ratio and 100 percent differential locks for the transfer case and the rear axle.
The modified AIRMATIC air suspension, designed specifically for the more demanding conditions, increases the ground clearance to a maximum of 307 millimetres where required, and raises the fording depth to 600 millimetres.
The entry-level model, the GL 320 CDI comes with a 165 kW V6 engine and there is a new high-performance V8 diesel in the GL 420 CDI, which now has an output of 225 kW and maximum torque of 700 Nm.
It also comes with Merc's 285kW 5.5-litre engine, which was firs launched in the new S-Class.
The other model in the range is the GL 450 which has a 250 kW 4.6-litre engine under the bonnet.
All GL-Class models come with the standard-fit 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission.
CLICK HERE for Mercedes GL-Class gallery