Date registered: Jul 2006
Vehicle: 1999 E55, 2001 E320, 1990 560 SEC, 2004 ML350, 2001 ML55, 1995 S500, 1998 SL500, 2010 E550 Sport zoo
Location: NW Arkansas, La Jolla CA, Hong Kong
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First, let me say some thing here that might make me a bit unpopular - but on the other hand I have "lived" so to speak with all three models of the GL since September:
1) Don't overlook the "hideen jewel" in affordability and pull-power which is the GL350 BlueTech. The BlueTech with its amazing torque pulls around town like a 550 - and the you will get real close to 30mpg. At this moment its overshadowed by the fact in the US diesel fuel prices take longer to come down versus more competitive retail prices on premium - but in the long run as fuel prices rise, best to look at diesel/premium prices at the pumps in your area 6 months ago for a fairer comparison. The new GL's are so cabin quiet as compared to other luxury SUV's its amazing, and in comparison to each other the GL350 suffers as a bit noiser/hair - but the GL350 compared to any other luxury SUV out there will hold its own.
2) The GL550 loaded up is a beautiful machine, Designo is a level of elegant feeling unmatched especially, but the 550 "AMG" body styling and 21" wheels are what really set it off - as compared to a GL450 with appearance package.
3) Some one might kick in and say "get a 450 and chip it" - I have checked out the "claims" by some tuners so far - by the $3K guys down to the $1000 guys - and all I can say is that I personally believe the market is still about a year away from having effective 450 upgrades that will be documented well enough in my opinion to consider to mod my $80K Mercedes. There just haven't been enough GL's in the market yet for the tuners really to do effective/complete work. That said, in about that year (my target) a effective chop retune should be in the $400-$600 range - especially after the Euro boys get a few more GL's over there to do the real competent work that comes from there as compared to the US-hack-a-thon types.
4) Leasing a pre-owned GL - which at this moment would be earlier-gen, simply doesn't make financial sense. Leasing does two things - first, it allows you to "fix" your total cost of ownership for a specic period without worrying about future resale, 2nd it makes changeover to your next vehicle to be focused without having to worry about value/trade-in value of the vehicle you leave behine.
As the new-gen '13 GL goes into 1st half this next year, there will be more and more early-gen owners - with solid vehicles - trading up. Just like now we are in 2nd year new-gen ML's - you will see more 2010-2011 ML's solid vehicles available as Certified Pre-Owned values at the dealer.
With recent-model financing at all time lows, in the 3's or even less for some, a 2-3 yr old Certified Pre-Owned can be termed smart money, financed in the right way to build you some trade-in equity 3-4 years down the road as your cash situation allows.
Understand - fuel prices will ultimately go back up short term this year - and as shown by our last "high" - there was no real cap that ket it from going higher - except this dang fiscal cliff deal.
At this moment - fuel prices low - and short supply of new models - SUV's have a bump "high" value again.
My daughter drives a $60K '13 GLK - with everything on it except Designo - yes, she even has Distronic. That said, there are some very-very nice "loaded" '11 ML's out there that can be had in the $40K's for your son. - and some MB program '12 ML's popping up off of MB exec leases/event deals.
Keep the faith !