Review: 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS brings family hauling to the luxury segment
Mercedes' big, three-row sport utility is often overlooked because it's not as flashy or sexy as some other Mercs, but there's a lot of goodness in the GLS. The 2019 model marks the fifth year of this SUV's current design, but our review uncovered very little that needs changing.
Luxury SUVs are generally seen as, at least according to the marketing, the sporty option in the segment. The emphasis is always on power delivery, muscle, and four-wheel drive capability. Hauling kids and gear in comfort and style is not so much a part of the luxury utility persona, in the same way that having massaging seats and self-parking aren't generally big marketing points for pickup trucks.
Hauling the family around to do things may not be particularly glamorous, but it's where the real daily-use happiness is found. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS hits all of the right marks with that goal in mind. And it does it without sacrificing the things we've come to expect from a Mercedes-Benz.
For starters, the 2019 GLS can carry seven adults in comfort. Yes, even the third row is adult-friendly. We've been in minivans that can't even make that claim, let alone an SUV. There's a lot of cargo space in this big Mercedes, too. Up to 93.8 cubic feet (2,656 liters) in all, with the second and third rows folded. To put that into perspective, we managed to get three new bicycles into the back of the GLS and still had the second row up so that we could get five passengers inside for the drive home. That's a lot of space ... some New York apartments aren't that large.
Speaking of that seating space, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS has comfortable, even opulent seating. The front seats are very adjustable and come with power-adjustable everything. Standard features include a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, two USB ports, dual-zone climate, and an auto-dimming rearview.
The entry and exit for the GLS is helped by the wide-opening doors and low sills. Seating is also comfortable in the second row, and additional package upgrades add USB ports and heated outboard seating there. The third row is accessed through the split-fold of the second row, which also slides forward to make climbing in easier. The flat roofline of the 2019 design means that headroom is good all the way back to that third row. The third row seats are also adequate in terms of legroom and seat cushion height.
There are three basic flavors to the GLS, each noting a different powertrain. The GLS 450, which we drove, is the base model. It's powered by a 362-horsepower (270 kW) turbocharged V6 and sits on a self-leveling air suspension. This engine is more than enough for the big SUV, giving it lots of confidence and a solid feel on the road. The only downer is that the GLS 450 lacks many of the luxury options found in the higher trim levels with their more powerful engines.
The GLS 550 for example, which has a 449-hp (335 kW) turbo V8, , includes a larger infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, advanced driver aids, and LED lighting. Those items (and others) are optional on the GLS 450, but at a premium price. Optional on both the 450 and 550 models is the beautiful diamond-quilted upholstery and an off-road package with a dual-range transfer case and underbody protection.
The top end GLS is the AMG GLS 63, which has a turbocharged 577-horsepower (430 kW) V8. It comes with piles of goodies and extras to go with its superclass AMG moniker. This includes adaptive suspension dampers, unique 21-inch wheels, larger brakes, stabilizer bars, exclusive upgraded upholstery, and more.
Even with all of that, though, we still see the not very sexy GLS 450 as the best of the bunch. Buying an SUV as a souped up sports car seems ludicrous (or maybe not?) and the real luxury goodness of the Mercedes-Benz GLS comes in its quiet ride, careful comfort, and beautifully capable engineering. That, in a nutshell, is the 2019 GLS 450. Adding in some extras, like driver assistance technologies and a rear seat entertainment system helps round it out for family duties. We like the new Grand Edition packaging for that.
After a week with this big SUV, we're starting to see family hauling in a slightly different light. There's a lot to be said about staying comfortable while hauling the kids around in style.
Pricing for the 2019 GLS starts at US$70,150 and it was priced at $99,620 as we drove it.
Product Page: 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS