- 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.
Since its debut as the 2007 GL-later renamed GLS-Mercedes-Benz's flagship SUV has been our favorite in the three-row large-SUV class, continuing to defeat all comers even in this year's 10Best Trucks and SUVs awards in its final year before this major redesign. That the GLS retained not just competitiveness but supremacy throughout its extended life cycle speaks to just how fundamentally excellent it was to start, and maybe a little bit that, until the recent arrival of the BMW X7, most of its competitors were based on underpinnings donated from pickup trucks. But its winning blend of luxurious and sophisticated comportment and three rows of generous passenger space caused it to nibble away at the stranglehold that the General Motors brutes-the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and GMC Yukon-had on the segment.
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.
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.
As before, air suspension is standard. But, as with the GLE, the GLS has E-Active Body Control, a system that enables active and preemptive control of each wheel, which when combined with road-scanning input promises exemplary ride comfort. And it comes with the GLE's same, bizarre bouncing function that purports to help it get unstuck from soft surfaces. All GLSs come with all-wheel drive, but a two-speed transfer case is available on the GLS580.
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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