Like you, I tend to enjoy the finer things in life. Now, I’m not one to need the finest leathers, most exotic woods, 40+speaker audio systems, 30+way power adjustable seats, an onboard wine-cellar and 600-horsepower and in fact, most of this is a waste. In a world where excess is the norm, the Mercedes-Benz GLS strikes a sweet spot between comfort and opulence.
Why pay more?
I know you might be thinking that I’m full of BS. I also know that the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS starts at $93,500. But, with a few choice options like those on my tester, less than $110,000 will better, in many respects, a Bentley Bentayga for example which starts at $200,000. To note, my reviewed GLS 450 included the Premium, Night, and Intelligent Drive packages along with the 2nd row captain seats for a grand total of $108,190.
A priority for those who purchase vehicles at this price point, prestige is of the utmost importance. The new Mercedes-Benz GLS is the S-Class of SUVs which is saying everything. While I know grey/black/white are shades of choice, the only element I’d change on this unit is the colour. Selenite grey would be swapped for one of the available blues or the subtle and rich Emerald Green metallic hue.
Quietly distinct and luxurious
Otherwise, as the S-Class of the SUVs, the GLS projects “quiet distinction.” It needs not to be boisterous. Its stature, shoulder span, speaks volumes about its abilities as a luxurious and powerful people and gear mover – the near absence of exterior adornment, with the possible exception of the standard 21-inch wheels, explains the quiet distinction.
Stepping aboard, by skipping over the unfortunately included useless running boards, reveals a different side to the 2020 GLS. The standard twin 12.3-inch screens, with Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), superb dash layout, wonderful materials, craftsmanship, and bountiful level of features are all the very definition of premium.
Everywhere you look or touch, there are various textures that come together and project the impression of durability. Front and second row seats are incredibly comfortable, ideal for the longest possible road trip. And then there’s the boot which can hold vast amounts of stuff: luggage, stroller and more.
450 is the right amount of power
As this is a Mercedes-Benz GLS 450, it is thus powered by a Benz’s turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-6 cylinder engine with EQ Boost. For the GLS, the mill generates 362-horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,600-4,500 rpm. Associated to the included 9-speed automatic transmission and the straight-6 is Benz’s EQ Boost mild-hybrid 48V Integrated Starter Generator system. When fully charged, the EQ Boost system provides a 21-horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque boost when needed.
Quite honestly, the 450 is enough. When loaded and with the right amount of determination, this near 5,500lb SUV will hit 100 km/h in only, and I mean it, only 6.2 seconds. There also happens to be a GLS 580 with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that, with EQ Boost, 483-horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque, will reach 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds… If you’re thinking “I need a V8 to tow” know that both can haul 3,500kg, or 7,700 lb. If you need a V8 for the noises, then yes, yes you do.
Big and cozy to drive
Included with the Night package are some of the greatest modern-day automotive accessories of all: Adaptive dampers. Coupled to the standard air suspension, the GLS rides gracefully and competently over all road surfaces. As a highway cruiser, which I experienced over a 300km road-trip, the new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 quickly becomes the perfect road companion. Its strength and ensconcing structure are comforting and put everyone onboard at complete ease.
Much like the 2021 AMG GLE Coupe I drove recently, the GLS does not drive as big as its 5.21 meters in length would suggest. Responsive steering, strong brakes and commanding driving position put the driver at the helm of nothing less than a luxurious land yacht.
The GLS yesterday, today, and tomorrow
In this segment of large 3-row luxury SUVs, competition is limited. The new 2021 Cadillac Escalade may match the GLS on a few points but the only true competition comes from the new BMW X7. The BMW is a formidable foe however it goes about being big unabashedly. It is visually loud to a point that could turn some potential buyers off. Equally probable is that yet others may crave the extra attention.
There’s a whole sub-segment to these big trucks and depending on the model and selected options, do come close to the GLS price, content but not size-wise. Among them is the new 2020 Audi Q7.
I’ve been an unrepentant fan of the Mercedes-Benz GLS (ex-GL) since it arrived as a 2007 model year SUV in 2006 and it remains one of my favorite all-around SUVs.