The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS Is Even More of an S-Class SUV
To defend its leadership position among the large and luxurious, the GLS adds a lot more luxe.
Larger in nearly every dimension, the new GLS is the first major redesign of Mercedes-Benz's successful range-topping SUV since its launch as the 2007 GL. Available with either a 362-hp turbo 3.0-liter inline-six (GLS450) or a new 483-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 (GLS580), both with 48-volt electrical architecture and electric assist. The overhaul ups the GLS's luxury game substantially, including available five-zone climate control, a second-row bucket seat option, and an S-class-like executive rear-seat package.
All Turbocharged, All with Electric Assist
The 2020 model leans in even further to the idea that the GLS is the S-class of SUVs—and if sedan sales keep on their downward trajectory, it might actually need to become the S-class—with a number of upmarket additions that pave the way to the coming Maybach version, which will be pushing $200,000.
Initial models available are the GLS450, powered by the excellent 362-hp turbo 3.0-liter inline-six with 21 horsepower of electric assist that is spreading across Mercedes-Benz’s lineup, and the GLS580, which is powered by a new, 483-hp version of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, this one now also boosted with the same 21-hp / 184-lb-ft electric-assist system and 48-volt electrical architecture. Both get a nine-speed automatic transmission.
More Rear Seating Options
Available as a seven-seater with a three-across second row or, for the first time, as a six-seater with middle bucket seats, the GLS now offers an S-class-like executive rear-seat package that adds a foldable center console, a tablet to control the infotainment, plus multi-adjustable heated and ventilated seats. The sunroof is 50 percent larger, and five-zone climate control is available. A set of 23-inch wheels is available on the GLS580, with 19s standard on the GLS450 and 21s on the GLS580. There’s an easy-entry function that powers the second row forward to enable better access to the third row, and all seats can be folded down simultaneously by the push of a button.
Larger in Almost Every Dimension
Mercedes hasn’t yet provided interior dimensions, so it’s not clear how the GLS’s three-inch stretch in overall length, 2.3-inch-longer wheelbase, and nearly an inch of additional width (although its roofline is an inch lower) will translate into increased occupant and cargo space. But one thing that we’ve always appreciated about the GL/GLS is its adult-habitable third row packaged in a footprint smaller than a Tahoe’s, and this time around, Mercedes promises more second-row room and comfortable accommodations in the third row for passengers up to six foot five.
Front and rear lamps morph toward the shapes seen on the GLE. From either the front or rear, the new GLS looks more GLE-like than before to our eyes. But it stays on the path of stately elegance, leaving ostentation to others in the segment.
Considering that the GLS is underpinned by the same architecture as the smaller GLE (which gained a third-row option in its recent redesign), it’s no surprise that the interior looks identical. As in the GLE and others, dual 12.3-inch screens that function as the gauge cluster and center infotainment interface dominate the dash. It’s powered by Mercedes’s now familiar MBUX system, which can be controlled by voice, touchscreen, or touchpad, in addition to dash and steering-wheel controls.
Of course, it has the expected panoply of driver-assist systems, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, and automated emergency braking. The steering will assist if it detects intended swerves around obstacles, and the GLS also includes car-to-X communication that can actively anticipate potential hazards by communicating the car’s happenings while receiving information from surrounding vehicles. But to be useful, this requires having all the vehicles around it also to be equipped with this feature
Pricing hasn’t been announced, but it will no doubt be an increase over the current GLS450’s $71,145 and the GLS550’s $96,745 when the new GLS reaches dealers by the end of 2019.
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