If you look at any luxury car manufacturer’s current lineup, you’re likely to see a wide selection of crossover SUVs. Not every luxury brand has a full size SUV like the Escalade, but they do all have those medium sized crossovers. They’re popular because of they give you the comfort and technology of a luxury car with the functionality of an SUV.
The luxury crossover all started with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. This automotive trend that has been unstoppable over the last couple decades can be traced directly to the first M-Class for the 1998 model year. It started with the ML320 which was a totally new design from the ground up. Mercedes-Benz didn’t phone it in and make and SUV based on an existing car and they deserve a lot of credit for that. The luxury SUV offerings of the time were either badge engineered, too expensive, too unreliable, or all of the above.
That’s where the M-Class came in. It was a body-on-frame SUV with seating for five and an optional third seat. It was the first luxury SUV with electronic stability control making it one of the safest SUVs you could buy. It also helped popularize the trend of all-wheel drive in luxury cars with the 4Matic system available. This gave it great performance in any road condition and even off-road.
Since there was no other SUV like it and not even another Mercedes like it, the ML320 was the Motor Trend Truck of the Year and was voted North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit for 1998.
The original M-Class was so popular and so influential that Mercedes made a huge investment for the second generation in the Alabama plant where they were built. Thanks to this investment, the second generation M-Class was a little bigger, more aerodynamic, and overall better quality. It also switched from body-on-frame to unibody giving it more car-like handling.
Alongside the second generation M-Class was the GL-Class which was all new for the 2007 model year. It was similar to the M-Class, but larger. It had three rows of seats for up to seven people while the new M-Class did not have an optional third seat. The luxury crossover segment that the M-Class kicked off got so popular that the other luxury brands started building them bigger. The GL-Class brought serious competition to rival crossovers and even the full-size SUVs.
If you’re looking for a great deal on a modern luxury SUV, an M-Class is an excellent option. The luxurious interior holds up to this day still feeling comfortable and well-appointed. No matter which M-Class you drive, it can turn heads and it has the distinct look of a German luxury vehicle.
If you need more room for more cargo and more passengers, the GL-Class is a great way to haul the family around in style. Thanks to the unibody construction of the GL-Class, it has car-like handling, efficiency, and driveability as opposed to competing full-size SUVs in the luxury market. It’s the luxury you’d expect from Mercedes-Benz in a big package with no compromise.