2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS Review & First Drive ― Redesigned Luxury SUV


[MUSIC PLAYING] CALVIN KIM: The car behind me
is the all new Mercedes Benz GLS 450. It’s Mercedes Benz’s
top-dog three-row SUV. So Mercedes Benz
has a lot of SUVs. And they’ve launched
a couple of new ones recently, like the GLE and
the G-Wagen Where does the GLS fit amongst those two? Well, the G-Wagen is
the off-roadable one. It’s the style one. The GLE is the practical one. It’s more fuel-efficient. It’s a little bit smaller,
but it has all the features. The GLS has the size and the
features all rolled into one. It’s a three-row
full size, and what that means for Mercedes
is full-grown adults can fit in that back row. It’s got MBUX, their all-new
award-winning infotainment system. It’s got EQ boost, which is
some power adding crazy thing. It’s got 48-volt
suspension, because who knew you could have
electric suspension? I can’t wait to see how
all this stuff works, especially the off-road mode. But before we get into
it, make sure to subscribe to Edmunds’s YouTube
channel, and check us out on Edmunds.com. We’re in the GLS 450 right now. That means it’s got a 3-liter
inline-six engine that’s turbocharged. Nothing too crazy
here, but Mercedes is using this technology
called EQ boost. And what that is it
uses the 48-volt system to also boost up the engine. Engine-wise,
there’s two choices. You can get a V8
or an inline-six. And normally you’d think,
for a car this big, you’d want the V8. But actually, there’s some
benefits to the inline-six. Obviously, you get a little
bit more fuel economy. And because of the
EQ boost system, the 48-volt integrated
starter generator, it has a seamless
auto start-stop, and when you get
on the throttle, it gives you a little
bit of electric boost along with the turbo. The engine feels a lot
spritelier and a lot torquier than you’d think. And frankly, I don’t know
if you’d really need the V8. Both the inline-six and
V8 are all-wheel drive and have a nine-speed automatic
transmission with flappy paddle shifters. That’s really nice when you’re
going on a long downhill, like we are now. So you can kind of hold
the gear, and that way, you’re not riding
the brakes as much. The all-wheel drive
system is adaptive, meaning you can send power
to the front and rear as you see fit. It’s all stuff you’d
don’t have to worry about. The computers take care
of all that for you. Frankly, you can just
hop in this thing, leave it all on auto and comfort
mode, and never notice a thing. But for the car
enthusiast that knows how to push the
right buttons, there is a ton of a just ability
for literally everything. There’s some hand-me-down
technology from the GLE, and frankly, there’s
nothing wrong with that. One of the big ones is the
48-volt suspension system. Here in the GLS, its
much bigger weight shows off the capabilities,
I think, a little bit better. One of the advantages to
this system is curve control. It is crazy. It pumps up the
outside shocks when it knows you’re in a corner, and
actually leaves the whole car into the turn. If you’re seeing
what I’m seeing, it looks like you’re flying
in a plane or on a motorcycle. It’s absolutely surreal
to experience initially, but you get used to it. And frankly, you wonder how
you drove a car without it. This is the only way to fly. The Mercedes engineers are
very specific in mentioning that this new GLS is
slipperyer through the air than the old GLS. Now, granted, they’re
both big cars, but the benefit for having
this low air resistance isn’t so much in
high-speed highway driving, it’s in wind noise. And frankly, it’s
a library in here. Mercedes calls the GLS
the S-class of SUVs, and all that might be
stretching it a little bit– after all, there’s no
fiber optic roof here– it comes pretty close. And in fact, out of all
of the other three-row SUVs on the market,
yeah, I think this might take the
crown for luxury. It’s certainly the benchmark,
from my perspective. MBUX is a full-feature
infotainment system that controls just about
every aspect of the GLS. It relies on voice, haptic
touchpad, and a touch screen to control all the functions. With MBUX, you control the
navigation, the infotainment, the climate control,
seat massaging– everything related to the
operation of the vehicle. Maybe I’d like to get a
little bit of a back rub. Hey, Mercedes. SPEAKER 1: How may I help you? CALVIN KIM: Turn on
my seat massager. SPEAKER 1: I’m
switching on massage. CALVIN KIM: That’s luxury. One of the good things about
having the infotainment system be completely
integrated into the car is the fact that you can set
up different modes or presets on how you operate the car. Mercedes calls them themes. For example, in this car,
we have an off-road mode. And simply by scrolling through
all the different themes, we can go to the
adventure theme, and it’s right now switching
the car to off-road mode. I’m getting a different
display in the dash that shows my pitch and roll. And when I slow
down, the cameras will turn on to show
me the surroundings, so I don’t inadvertently run
over a sharp pointy rock. Conversely, when I’m ready
to get back on the highway, I can just switch my
theme to, let’s say, the sport plus experience. Nice. So what this
display’s showing you is the active ride
control in action. There’s a camera overhead
that’s looking down at the road surface and
scanning it, and seeing where the undulations are. And it’s preemptively
adjusting the active part of the suspension. Other active body
control systems have an artificial feeling
that kind of messes up with your [INAUDIBLE] and
your ear, but on the GLS, it’s absolutely seamless. It just feels like this is
the way it’s supposed to be. There’s a lot going for the
GLS, but it’s not perfect. You either love
MBUX or you hate it. A lot of us love it
because it’s easy and we understand that
there is a lot of technology behind the scenes that
MBUX has made very simple. Now, if you don’t
like technology, you’re going to have
a problem with it. The interior of the
GLS follows suit with the rest of the
Mercedes Benz product lineup. In fact, a lot of
the controls will seem familiar to anyone that’s
seen any of the newer cars. And that’s a good thing. The steering wheel has
a lot of controls on it. And it looks daunting at
first, but it’s actually very logically laid out. Cruise control is on one side,
and the audio and phone stuff is on the other. But we particularly like how
the climate control is all hardware-based. Now, there is a common control
menu for the more advanced functions, but all
of your general controls that you’ll use
on an everyday basis fall right to hand. Another good thing about the
GLS is a superfluous amount of US ports. Mercedes says there
are 11, but you’re going to need USB-C
cables, because that’s the only thing inside the car. And there’s these cool
little foam-joggy dial things that used to swipe and
maneuver to navigate the different menus. Overall build quality
on the GLS is excellent. The story’s is the same
back here in the second row. It’s very roomy, meant
for full-size adults. You get your own climate control
system controls, two USB jacks, and 1 10 jack. Even in the bench configuration,
the second row seats are fully adjustable, and
they have heating, as well. This particular seat
also has the backrest fold down functionality
of 40, 20, and 40. And of course, you don’t have
to lift a finger to do that. Just a flick of a switch
unlocks the control and takes care of
your loading issues. But here in the back row
is where the big news is. Mercedes Benz went on record
saying a 6 foot 4 adult male could fit back here. I’m sure they could. I’m 6′ foot tall exactly,
and I have just enough knee room, and of course,
a ton of headroom. And the seats themselves
are very comfortable. I think the one odd thing about
it though is this headrest. Normally it’s in the down
position for visibility, but when it’s in the
full up position, it’s a little bit long, and
it gets into my shoulder blades a little bit. I guess it’s good if you have
a little itch back there. But one of the cool touches
that Mercedes put in is they made sure that the
third row passenger can get in and out all by themselves. Just of course, one touch
of a button and voila. Sure, the insides are
nice, the seats are comfy, but true luxury means not having
to fiddle with knobs and levers to recline the seats. So Mercedes Benz
gives us the benefit of having one-touch fold
down for all two rows. [MUSIC PLAYING] For those of you
with sharp eyes, you’ll notice I’m
in a different car. And that’s right. I’m in the GLS 580. And it’s got a twin
turbo charged V8, but it too has the EQ system
so that you have no turbo lag and a ton of torque. Even sharper eyes also
notice it’s kind of bumpy. That’s because we’re
on a dirt road. We’re here to test the
off-road capability of the GLS. If you get the off-road
package, you get a low range, you get underbody protection,
and you get additional software stability control maps. What that means is you
can handle off-roading a lot better than you’d think. Now, normally, when most
people think of three-row SUVs, they think family-mobile. If anything, this is the one
that the adventuresome person should buy. In fact, just about
every truck and SUV that has a low range,
when you engage it, it locks the center
differential, which makes doing take
turns nearly impossible. GLS also does something
a little bit smarter. It actually unlocks
the center differential and yet still has
enough clapping force to make sure there’s power
going to all four wheels. What that means to you, as
the driver and passengers– it’s just a lot more
comfortable ride. There’s no brakes locking up. There’s no odd
adverse reactions. The car just simply
climbs up the corner. So now, we’re doing a lot
of rutted out driving, and there’s a stream
going down the path. This kind of train
is what separates the real off-roadable
SUVs from the crossovers. And of course, the GLS has
no problems doing any of this because they factored
all of this into it. All these systems
allow a person that really likes to go
off-roading and really likes to explore
new unique places the ability to do it without
compromising the luxury ride Monday through Friday. So you can wear your
business suit to work, and then where you’re
off-roading suit on the weekends. [MUSIC PLAYING] Who is the GLS for? I think, for certain
people, it will absolutely be just a regular SUV. But for the creative-minded,
the adventuresome, the GLS presents a lot more
functionality, a lot more features than I
think a lot of people are going to give it credit for. Yeah, there are other SUVs
that are a little bit more off-roadable– the Land Cruiser
and the Range Rover immediately spring to
mind– but none of them feature the GLS’s massive
interior space, and the MBUX infotainment system, the
comfort, the quietness, and of course, the EABC, the
Electronic Active Body Control system that makes the ride
truly like a magic carpet. Yeah, it doesn’t
have the je ne sais quoi of the S-class’s
ultimate luxury, but this thing can
go off road, man. S-class can’t do that. Do you like off-roading? Do you like luxury cars? If you want to see
more videos like this, be sure to subscribe
to Edmunds.com. [MUSIC PLAYING]