The SUV that has to be on your shortlist

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A full-size SUV is possibly the most practical car that money can buy.

The reality is, though, that there are only a handful that truly qualify as large - seven seats as standard is a must. This is why the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class has to be on your shortlist.

First introduced to the UK back in 2008, a heavily revised version has been announced with sales in this country planned for early next year.

It has a much cleaner look all round, with smoothed-out bumpers, the family face and sharper creases down the sides. Choose the right model and you can have a contrasting colour for the front spoiler and sill trims.

The layout of the dashboard is familiar Mercedes, as is the quality, and the feeling of luxury is unquestionable.

Whether you go for petrol or diesel power at low to middling cruising speeds, the engine is virtually silent, wind noise is well suppressed and the wheels only transmit a faint rumble.

Add into that the superb ride quality delivered by the revised air suspension system and you have a seriously comfortable car for you and your passengers.

The GL’s seven seats don’t present the usual problems: an electric folding system means you can raise or lower the second and third rows with the briefest push of a button.

The steering is light and accurate, offering more than sufficient feel to deliver comfortable cruising and confident cornering.The air suspension in standard form is well judged, but the optional set-up adds active anti-roll bars which are genuinely effective and create a scarcely-believable cornering experience almost completely without body roll.

In the UK the most popular version will inevitably be the GL350 CDi, which offer up 190hp and 620Nm of torque all delivered through the smooth seven-speed automatic transmission. There is ample torque available from low revs and the GL350CDI simply gets on with the job. Under full acceleration such is the linearity of the delivery that it almost feels languid, but the 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds tells no lies - particularly remarkable when you consider the GL350 can manage 192g/km and beat forthcoming EU6 emission regulations.

The GL is the kind of car that could easily stay in your life for years simply because you know it can handle whatever you throw at it, the bonus being that it is also very desirable in its own right.

But if you have the means, treat yourself to the blockbusting AMG version.