Best large diesel SUVs are extremely limited. So, for consumers in the market for a full-size SUV that’s powered by clean-burning diesel, you’ve got only two choices for the 2010 model year.

Mercedes-Benz GL350The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL350 gets a freshened look. Basically, it’s a stretched version of the Benz M-Class (premium midsize). GL-Class seats 7, compared to the 5-passenger M-Class and has a higher towing capacity of up to 7,500 pounds.

GL350 is the top-of-the-line model, and the only one to feature diesel. In this case, it’s the 210-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 Blue TEC engine, mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. GL350 BlueTEC has standard 4Matic all-wheel drive (AWD) without low range gearing.

Edmunds says, “Opt for the 3.0-liter clean-diesel V6 (‘TDI’), introduced last year and legal in every state, and you’ll enjoy massive low-end grunt (over 400 pound-feet of torque and much better fuel economy.”

Consumer Guide comments: “The BlueTEC diesel can feel slightly lethargic off the line, and some testers want quicker highway passing response, but its turbodiesel V6 never feels underpowered.” Editors note further that the BlueTEC is emissions legal in all 50 states. Finally, Consumer Guide names the GL-Class a Best Buy, commenting: “Any GL is a Best Buy that offers impressive power and high levels of refinement. Don’t overlook the diesel BlueTEC – it’s the least expensive model, yet is plenty powerful and remarkably fuel-frugal.”

Audi Q7Sharing basic elements of design with the Volkswagen Touareg, the 2010 Audi Q7 large luxury SUV also offers consumers the option of diesel power and seats 7 to Touareg’s 5 passenger capabilities. Audi Q7 3.0 TDI features a 225-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Audi’s Quattro AWD is standard. Properly equipped, Q7 can tow 6,600 pounds.

Automobile Magazine raves: “The Q7’s 3.0-liter TDI diesel V6 is a winner. It’s so quiet, so smooth, and so powerful…Cruising at 80 mph on the freeway is effortless, and if you gun it to 90 mph or higher while you’re passing, it’s as if the engine is not even exerting itself.”

Consumer Guide says of the diesel model: “3.0 TDI models have a lot of torque. They’re strong from a stop and pass with ease on the highway, though there is a bit of turbo-lag.” As for fuel economy, the 3.0 TDI “averaged 25.8 mpg – outstanding even for a vehicle tested in all highway conditions.” Consumer Guide gives the Audi Q7 its Recommended nod “for mechanical finesse, terrific all-weather road manners, and the fuel-frugal diesel option.”

Depending on the success of these two automaker’s diesel models, look for more diesel-powered models in the future – adding to the Best Large Diesel SUVs vying for consumer attention.

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