The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class gets some major upgrades for the 2020 model year, leading it straight to the top of the pack of luxury three-row SUVs. The GLS now shares a platform with the smaller GLE mid-size SUV, and you get your choice between the base GLS450 and the GLS580, which comes with a bit more standard equipment and a beefier engine under the hood.
Luxury is the name of the game for both models: modern tech and high-quality materials throughout the spacious, redesigned interior. Want all the details on the luxe GLS? Aaron Bragman’s review should tell you everything you need to know — just click the related link above.
If you’re just looking for some fast facts, however, here’s what we like (and don’t) about the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS450/580:
What we Like:
1. Acceleration and Power
The GLS450 comes equipped with a mild-hybrid turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that puts out 362 horsepower and 369 pounds-feet of torque. It all comes together in a smooth, responsive acceleration that’s adequately infused with torque. When you need more power, there seems to be a never-ending supply. Bump it up to Sport mode for an even more entertaining drive.
2. Ride Quality
A standard electronically adjustable air suspension affords both GLS models premium ride quality. The E-Active Body Control system — unique to Mercedes-Benz SUVs among its competitors — uses sensors, cameras and actuators to anticipate body movement and adjust accordingly, tilting the SUV’s body like an airplane as you take a banked curve on a highway. It reduces the force that pushes you against the doors when you make a tight turn, making for a more pleasant ride.
3. Decked-Out Interior
The GLS interior gets a full update for 2020 to match the new Mercedes-Benz standard. The material quality gives it a classy feel: aluminized finish on the buttons, genuine wood trim and high-grade leather throughout. The buttons are also actually buttons (instead of touch panels), which adds to the premium feel.
4. Dual Multimedia Display
The centerpiece of the fresh interior is a dual electronic display that stretches from the driver’s gauge cluster all the way across the center console; the right side of the two 12.3-inch screens is a touchscreen. The driver’s screen can be reconfigured for the available head-up display, as well.
5. Lots of Space for You …
On the new platform, the GLS adds 2.3 inches to its wheelbase, which translates to 3 more inches of legroom in the second row. The second row is also adjustable, which can help passengers squeeze into the third row.
6. … And Your Cargo
There’s a lot of cargo space in the GLS: 17.4 cubic feet behind the third row, and if you slide the second row all the way forward, you can eke out 84.7 cubic feet of space behind it. The second and third row fold down if you need maximum space.
7. Favorable Against the Competition
The GLS finds its main competition in the likes of the BMW X7 and Lincoln Navigator, but it wins out in both matchups, in our opinion. The interior of the GLS is more versatile than that of the X7, and you’ll find a lot more tech in the GLS than you will in the Navigator. For the money, the GLS is our top pick for a three-row luxury SUV
Others you may not like:
1. You Probably Don’t Need the V-8
The mild-hybrid twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 sitting under the hood of the GLS580 puts out 483 hp and will definitely give you the sense of that extra power when you step on the gas. However, you won’t see a big difference in acceleration: Mercedes-Benz says the 580 will go 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds, while the 450 can do the same in 5.9 seconds. Considering most driving does not require such breakneck acceleration, the smaller engine will probably do just fine.
2. Price Difference
There is a $22,000 difference between the starting prices of the GLS450 and GLS580. The powertrain is obviously different, but what else is so special about the 580 to warrant the higher price tag? Not a whole lot. While the 580 does come with a bit more standard equipment — including heated and ventilated massaging front seats, five-zone climate control and soft-close doors — it doesn’t look much different. The most noticeable difference is the higher number on the tailgate. Add to this the fact that you don’t really need the V-8 and it’s hard to justify this much of a price bump to the already good enough 450.
3. You’ll Pay at the Pump, Too
Neither the GLS450 nor the GLS580 are especially fuel-efficient, but you’ll definitely notice the difference between the two at the gas pump. While the 450 gets an EPA-estimated 19/23/21 mpg city/highway/combined, the 580 is EPA-rated at 16/21/18 mpg. (It should be noted, however, that fuel economy ratings like these are common in this class of SUVs.)
4. Minor Multimedia Glitches
The sticking points of the standard MBUX multimedia system aren’t unique to the GLS. The smart assistant feature (like Siri or Alexa) is supposed to activate when you say “Hey Mercedes,” — which it does, but it will also activate if you just say “Mercedes.” This could be an issue, particularly if you’re the type to talk about the car while driving it. Another tech quirk is the steering wheel, which has touch-sensitive controllers on the spokes. “Sensitive” is the key word here; you have to be careful not to touch these or you risk accidentally activating something.
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