Diverging off of a paved road into gravel is one of the best reasons to get an AWD SUV. What you need to do in order to mitigate danger to your car, so you can go off-roading more often and not worry so much, is make sure your car has enough ground clearance and has the proper tires. Enter the Mercedes GL Class. If money was no object we’d tell you to get your hands on a brand new Mercedes G550 4x4 Squared, which offers more than 17 inches of ground clearance. Clearly the best off-roading vehicle. However those go for $225,000 starting, if you’re more on the side of saving money closer to a $40,000 figure, the 2015 Mercedes GL class is the next best option, among others.
Depending on your options, the 2015 Mercedes GL can come with up to 550 horsepower out of a twin turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 engine. Since you’ll be using it for offloading you’ll want to look at torque figures as well, and the V8 has you covered there as well with more than 560 lb-ft. Wth the GLS 350d, one of the cheaper options, the diesel-powered 3-liter turbocharged V6 will give you more than 450 lb-ft, more than enough to handle off-roading. Not only is power covered, but the GL has ground clearance up to 12 inches, which is more than other notable SUVs in its class. All GL models come standard with AWD.
Like other Mercedes cars, the GL offers top-of-the-line performance and comfort. The acceleration is smooth, the suspension keeps the car planted around corners, the seats are comfortable, and it can get around 25 mpg on the highway which is nothing to sneeze at for a big SUV. In terms of reliability the Mercedes GL class fits right in the middle, or average according to the Power Predicted Reliability rating. For a Mercedes, you can’t ask much more than that.
Here are some other excellent off-road SUV options:
Another option is the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee. You can get them with either RWD or AWD, and can be worth as little as around $22,000. Depending on the options you find, they can have as much as 475 horsepower. The Grand Cherokee has been praised for its ride height at almost 11 inches, it’s durability, and comfortable ride.
If all you’re looking for is ground clearance, the highest you can go is the 2016 Land Rover LR4 which has a ground clearance of more than 12 inches. Unfortunately the price is still as high as around $50,000 and according to consumer reports it’s not a terrific ride quality, with a less than average reliability rating. While it is great for off-roading, gas mileage and things like the infotainment system suffer greatly.
For $40,000 you can’t get much more off-road SUV than the Mercedes GL class. From top to bottom this car is built for off-roading and making it as comfortable as possible. That’s not a hefty price either, especially for a Mercedes.
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