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The GL’s no-nonsense styling has aged well. Because of its size (it is just over 5m long and 1840mm high) and the fact that it had to slip in alongside the M-Class and R-Class luxury MPV, Mercedes’ designers didn’t have much room for stylistic manoeuvre.

That said, the Jeep-like lines are classically suited to this market. The big Merc grille and the slick headlamp design help to soften the form of this huge machine, but seen in the context of a typical street, the GL is a significantly bigger vehicle than any other direct rival.

Vicky Parrott

Deputy reviews editor
It's not pretty, but the GL is inoffensive-looking for such a huge SUV

Because of the desire to make space for the three rows of passengers, the roofline needed to high and the tailgate upright. Although this means that there’s a reasonable 200-litre boot even with the rear seats in place, the car’s silhouette is big and broad.

Mercedes’ designers did a good job of disguising this van-like profile with a very gently sloping roof and usual C-pillar, which is narrower at the base than at the top. Tinted privacy glass also softens the profile.

Inside, the interior is typical mid-2000s Mercedes: unadventurous but nicely crafted and well made. Aside from the two big, round air vents on top of the dash, the rest of the cabin lacks a stand-out feature, but that’s in the tradition of Mercedes interiors and many buyers will expect nothing less (or, perhaps, more).

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The big sat-nav screen dominates the centre console and the (extremely handy) column-mounted gear selector leaves space in the centre console for very easily accessed cupholders. The seats are Germanic in the generosity of their width, even in the third row. 

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