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Mercedes-Benz GLS

by Dustin Draves

If you want the absolute most Mercedes SUV for your money, the GLS-Class is the top dog at the dealership. Stretching 202 inches in overall length, the GLS is about 6 inches longer than the updated 2020 GLE-Class crossover and more than a foot longer than the mighty 2020 G-Class. The extra acreage not only gets you additional interior space, it also helps allow the GLS-Class to deliver a serene ride and refined driving manners.

We spent time with the GLS450, the entry-level version that comes with a twin-turbocharged V-6, all-wheel drive and nine-speed automatic transmission. Loaded with options that ranged from active-safety features, such as blind spot monitoring and active LED headlights, to luxury touches like heated and cooled cupholders (yes, really), our GLS topped out at $99,620, including a destination charge. That’s a whole lot of money, but it’s not out of line with what you’d pay for a similarly equipped Escalade, Navigator or X7.

For a full take on our impressions of the 2019 GLS, be sure to check out our expert review by Cars.com’s Aaron Bragman via the link above. But if you wish to learn the maximum amount in the minimum amount of time, keeping reading — here are eight things we like (and three we’re giving the side-eye) about the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class:

While the Mercedes-Benz GLS isn’t exactly the newest full-size luxury SUV with three rows of seating, it ranks among the best in this narrow field. Competitors include similarly aging rivals like the Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80 and Lexus LX 570, along with brand-new or recently redesigned models like the BMW X7 and Lincoln Navigator.

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1. Powerful Powertrains

Our test vehicle came with the base powertrain, a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers 362 horsepower and 369 pounds-feet of torque. The engine is coupled to a nine-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. While the horsepower figure looks impressive, at more than 5,300 pounds, there’s a lot of SUV to get down the road. Acceleration is smooth and stately, but it’s not going to pin you back into your seat — which is OK, because the GLS is designed to be a relaxed ride, not a fire-breathing sports car. Of course, if you want more power under the hood, there’s a choice of two optional twin-turbo V-8 engines. The most powerful of the two serves up a staggering 577 hp.

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One Smooth Ride
Like the powertrain in our GLS450, the suspension facilitates a refined ride that feels perfectly suited to this large SUV. While the GLS doesn’t have the active suspension found in the new GLE, Bragman still praised the ride and overall driving experience as being “cushy and comfy” in his review.

The Sweet Smell of Luxury
Mercedes-Benz knows how to make you feel good about spending this amount of money. While driving this posh SUV, the GLS passed the smell test with flying colors. The exquisite leather trim gives the interior a truly luxurious scent inside. It smells like, well … money.

Ample Cargo Space
Considering its size, you’re correct to expect lots of cargo room in the GLS. Behind the third-row seats, there’s 16 cubic feet of space. Fold these down and storage room to the second-row seatback expands to more than 49 cubic feet. Max cargo space is just shy of 94 cubic feet.

Outrageous Features We Can’t Help But Love
Do you really need front seats with a built-in massage function? And does a heated-and-cooled cupholder truly make your day a better one? Well, yes and yes, thankyouverymuch. Our test vehicle came with some very useful features, along with some that simply spoiled us. The $5,800 Bang & Olufsen premium stereo was a pretty nice touch, too.

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Impressive MPG (Everything’s Relative)
The numbers here might cause a Toyota Prius owner to clutch their pearls in righteous indignation, but the Mercedes-Benz GLS posts decent economy numbers for a behemoth like this. Optioned like our test vehicle, the GLS450 returns an EPA rating of 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined. It’s not great versus a compact sedan, but it’s at least competitive with rivals.

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