Mercedes-Benz likes to name the GLS-Class “the S-Class of SUVs.” That is a reasonably lofty boast. Whereas technically true — so far as nomenclature is anxious, anyway — I take into account the S-Class sedan the gold customary for luxurious sedans, whereas the earlier technology GLS by no means felt just like the benchmark in its class. So when the 2020 GLS-Class debuted claiming the identical S-Class razzmatazz, I used to be initially skeptical.
However the brand new GLS feels extra like a flagship than ever earlier than. It options promising and progressive powertrain choices, it seems to be fairly darn good for a giant ol’ field and advantages from a wave of recent cabin and security expertise that I’ve loved in different fashionable Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Perhaps this time “the S-Class of SUVs” is extra than simply advertising and marketing.
The GLS was already the most important SUV in Benz’s secure, however there was apparently nonetheless room to develop. The SUV is a bit bigger throughout for 2020, stretching out to about 205 inches in total size. The GLS advantages from a wheelbase that has grown by 2.Four inches. Which means backseat passengers have three extra inches of legroom. Benz claims you can now match as much as a 6-foot, Four-inch tall passenger on the third row — relying, in fact, on the way you divvy up the house with the sliding second row bench.
Throughout all three rows, the passengers will admire extra shoulder and headroom for this technology GLS, the latter of which is enhanced by a large (elective) panoramic moonroof, with a devoted little sunroof opening for the third row.
Up entrance, the GLS options simplified and toned-down tackle Mercedes-Benz inside design. Hallmarks such because the 4 round vents within the heart stack have been reshaped to extra compact rectangles, and there is much less shiny piano black trim. There’s an effectivity to the design that I like, nearly as if Benz has infused the cabin with a little bit of Audi DNA. Nonetheless, components of the design — just like the chilly aluminum trim and the large pretend plastic vent to the precise of the infotainment show — do not have that “S-Class” weight and heat that I’ve come to count on.
What the GLS’ cabin lacks in opulence, it greater than makes up with tech, rocking the Mercedes-Benz Person Expertise (or MBUX) system in its dashboard. This dual-screen system dedicates one among its 12.Three-inch shows to an enormous digital instrument cluster and a second show to conventional infotainment features. An obtainable (and pretty massive) customizable head-up show places automobile velocity, present velocity restrict, navigation or audio supply data nearer to the motive force’s subject of view, bringing the variety of screens within the GLS to 3.
I’ve examined a smaller model of the MBUX system within the Mercedes-Benz A-Class the place it impressed me with a way more intuitive interface and far smarter menu group than the S-Class’ older COMAND system. Within the GLS, MBUX continues to showcase good options like augmented actuality navigation, “Hey Mercedes” pure language voice command and a model of Benz’ Energizing Consolation cabin management system.
There’s a powerful quantity of customization obtainable for the GLS-Class’ digital instrument cluster.
The approaching of MBUX to the dashboard can also be the top of the COMAND management wheel, which has disappeared from the console. Now, drivers work together with the infotainment with quite a lot of contact surfaces — a haptic contact pad on the middle console, the touchscreen on the heart of the dashboard and the 2 touch-sensitive thumb pads on the steering wheel. I am going to miss the tactile nature of twisting the knob, however I admire the simplification of what was a really redundant person interface.
Choose your powertrain
The third-generation GLS is obtainable in two flavors: The facility hungry will probably be drawn to the GLS580 with its Four.Zero-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 engine making 483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Most drivers will probably be content material with the extra affordable GLS450, with its single-turbo, Three.Zero-liter inline-six, making 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet. I say “extra affordable” however that is nonetheless extra energy than BMW’s X7 xDrive40i’s turbocharged I6 engine, and we’re solely simply getting began…
Whichever engine you select, the GLS’ efficiency is additional augmented by Mercedes-Benz’s EQ Enhance 48-volt mild-hybrid system. Along with recapturing wasted braking power, smoothing out the anti-idling system’s stops and begins and powering a number of the extra energy-hungry auxiliary system, EQ Enhance is ready to add a further 21 horsepower and an electrifying 184 pound-feet of torque with the faucet of the motive force’s toe for a burst of acceleration.
That entire hybrid equipment and caboodle is mated to straightforward 4Matic all-wheel drive through an additionally customary nine-speed computerized transmission. With the EQ Enhance system ironing out the dips between shifts, the GLS is remarkably clean and quiet. Nonetheless, the added hybrid grunt signifies that even the six-cylinder mannequin feels V8 potent when it comes time to go.
Drivers have their selection of engines, however 4Matic AWD and the gentle hybrid EQ Enhance system are customary both method.
Forward of the Curve
The 48-volt system powers one among my favourite additions the GLS’ bag of tips, the elective E-Lively Physique Management system. This upgraded model of Benz’s Airmatic suspension is ready to extra quickly modify the habits of every wheel, permitting it to react to adjustments within the street or the motive force’s habits immediately and extra naturally than a traditional air suspension. This speedy response permits for some attention-grabbing proactive behaviors.
When outfitted with E-Lively Physique Management, the GLS’ sensors are in a position to actively scan the street forward for upcoming bumps and dips within the SUV’s path which the air suspension can compensate for, flowing easily over and thru the imperfections. This made for extremely clean cruising by way of the mountains throughout my first drive — my usually carsick co-pilot was happy and I am unable to wait to see how the system offers with undulating interstate growth joints.
The GLS’ coolest celebration trick, nevertheless, is the E-Lively Physique Management “Curve” characteristic which leans the SUV into bends kind of like a 5,700 pound, seven-seat motorbike. The method helps to cancel out physique roll for extra snug and extra dynamic cornering. The Curve mode can also be in a position to compensate for squat and dive when accelerating or decelerating, serving to to maintain the SUV’s chassis feeling secure throughout aggressive maneuvers.
The E-Lively Physique Management suspension is a powerful improve that improves consolation, comfort and efficiency.
There are three ranges of Curve to select from through the MBUX infotainment system, and the choice to disable the system through the drive mode selector. However even on the highest stage, the Curve impact is a refined one. I did not discover the lean as I tucked the GLS right into a nook, however I did really feel a marked distinction in how secure the SUV felt and the way I felt much less tossed to-and-fro, within the driver’s seat. My usually carsick co-pilot additionally seemed noticeably much less inexperienced across the gills over the twisty mountainous roads.
Driver support tech
Rounding out the GLS expertise is the total would possibly of Mercedes-Benz’s superior driver support suite. The complete-sized SUV may be had with adaptive cruise management that may preserve a set following distance behind a number one automobile even in stop-and-go site visitors, superior lane-keeping steering help that actively facilities the SUV in its lane, and a lane change help characteristic that may even steer into an adjoining and empty lane. Aiding security are computerized brake help for entrance and rear collision mitigation, evasive steering help — which helps drivers to swerve round doable pedestrian or bicycle owner collisions — and, when an affect is inevitable, the automaker’s Pre-Protected methods which prep the automobile and its passengers for affect.
The GLS can also be able to car-to-X communication, which implies the SUV is ready to transmit and obtain details about driving situations and warning messages from different automobiles and infrastructure. That does not imply all that a lot for many drivers right now, however it’s a little bit of future proofing will probably be a profit down the street as extra roads, infrastructure, site visitors lights and automobiles change into linked.
The luxurious SUV class is getting crowded, however the GLS-Class arrives able to tackle all comers.
The S-Class of SUVs
When it arrives at dealerships later this yr, the brand new GLS-Class will compete most straight with the brand new BMW X7 and Roadshow’s former Automotive of the 12 months, Volvo’s XC90. These searching for one thing somewhat extra “home” ought to take into account the Cadillac Escalade, although it is truthful to recollect the GLS is assembled at Benz’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant.
Cross-shopping will favor the Mercedes with its superior energy, efficiency and expertise, however a worth enhance for the 2020 mannequin yr — because of that EQ Enhance system and extra customary tools than ever earlier than — signifies that the brand new GLS may even be one of the vital costly rides in its class. Anticipate the 2020 GLS450 to begin at $75,200 earlier than choices and a $995 vacation spot and supply cost. Drivers who must get from Zero to 60 miles per hour barely sooner will have the ability to step as much as a V8-powered GLS580, which begins at $97,800.
I am not the largest fan of the GLS’ inside design, however I feel it’s going to simply should develop on me. Nonetheless, each different facet of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class lives as much as being known as the “S-Class of SUVs.” It is trendy and opulent, snug but surprisingly agile and loaded up with a considerate strategy to expertise that take it past simply being simple to stay with — it is a pleasurable expertise.
With extra customary options and that EQ Enhance hybrid system, the GLS is a little more costly for 2020.
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