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Wed, Oct 25, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Mercedes GL450 wins `Motor Trend' wins SUV plaudits

AP , DETROIT, MICHIGAN

Motor Trend magazine has named the Mercedes-Benz GL450 as its sport utility vehicle of the year for next year.

The SUV, equipped with a seven-speed transmission and a 335-horsepower V-8 engine, was picked from a field of 22 vehicles, the largest crop of SUVs ever evaluated by the magazine.

"The first full-size sport utility from Mercedes is not cheap, but it has astonishing technology," Motor Trend editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie said in a statement.

The Mercedes has the most comfortable third-row seating of any SUV tested, the magazine said. It comes with a diesel engine that runs on low-sulfur fuel.

"In every facet, from performance to the interior, this vehicle is a winner," MacKenzie said.

The SUV competition this year reflected the market shift away from truck-based SUVs toward car-based vehicles, MacKenzie said.

This year, only the GL, the Jeep Wrangler and the Toyota FJ Cruiser had real off-road capability, he said. Many of this year's SUVs are offered in two-wheel-drive versions that will be popular in states where weather and roads aren't a problem, he said.

"It's the 21st-century station wagon, neither truck nor car-based, and truly belongs in its own category," MacKenzie said of the SUV. "That is why this year's contest looked more closely at on-road drivability."

The editorial staff at the magazine evaluated the vehicles in three areas: significance in engineering, technology and features; superiority in performance and quality; and value.

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