2008 Mercedes-Benz GL Class
Last year, the Mercedes GL450 emerged as the most desirable luxo ute in a very desirable field. Facing an equally strong challenge for 2008, Mercedes responded by expanding the GL-class from a class of one to a family of three. For those who seek thrift and torque, there’s the GL320 CDI turbo-diesel, an impressive powerplant that’s currently creating compression-ignition converts in service with our long-term test fleet. And for those who find the GL450’s 335 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque a bit too tame, there’s the GL550, with a 5.5-liter V-8 generating 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet.
Power is always welcome in vehicles weighing upwards of 2.5 tons, but in this class there are other important factors. Packaging, for example. The GL-class provides useful three-row seating and comfortable accommodations for seven in a wrapper that’s shorter, lower, and not quite as wide as most of the luxo leviathans. Those accommodations are posh, as you’d expect in this realm, and that wrapper is also stylish.
Another GL strong suit is refinement. The GL is exceptionally quiet, the seven-speed automatic is at the top of the charts for seamless operation, and ride quality is creamy, surprisingly so for a vehicle that’s extraordinarily responsive by large-SUV standards. None of the foregoing comes cheap, of course. But luxury is as luxury does, and the GL does it best.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 5-door wagon
BASE PRICE: $53,775–$77,750
ENGINES: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter V-6 diesel, 215 hp, 398 lb-ft; DOHC 32-valve 4.7-liter V-8, 335 hp, 339 lb-ft; DOHC 32-valve 5.5-liter V-8, 382 hp, 391 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed auto with manumatic shifting
Wheelbase: 121.1 in Length: 200.3 in Width: 76.0–76.9 in Height: 73.4–75.6 in
Curb weight: 5450–5550 lb
EPA city driving 13–18 mpg
2008 Chevrolet Silverado
High fuel prices have softened the market for pickup trucks, especially full-size pickups, but even so, there are more contenders in this formerly all-American arena than ever before. Which makes the Silverado’s preeminence all the more impressive.So what gives the Silverado its edge? In a word, structure. The GMT900 truck platform, shared with the General’s full-size SUVs, set a new standard—make that the standard—for chassis rigidity, the essential starting point for ride, handling, big payloads, and hefty towing capabilities. And don’t forget durability.