Photography by Jil McIntosh, additional images courtesy Mercedes.
Mercedes-Benz today revealed a redesigned GLS full-size SUV in New York City, complete with a more spacious interior, a raft of new comfort and convenience features as standard equipment and a mild hybrid powertrain -- the first of its kind for Benz with a V8.
The new electrified V8 powertrain belongs to the GLS 580. Mercedes doesn't specify the engine's displacement, but we suspect it's close to the 4.7 L of the outgoing turbocharged GLS 550 model. In the new 580, the engine makes 483 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque on its own, and, like other recent Benz models to adopt the 48-volt EQ Boost mild hybrid drive system, an electric motor can add up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft when the extra juice is needed.
Outside of Europe (which we presume includes North America), the GLS 450 will serve as a base model, powered by a turbo 3.0 L inline six-cylinder that makes 362 hp and 369 lb-ft. It too benefits from the EQ Boost system's 21 hp and 184 lb-ft shot of adrenaline.
Predictably, the new GLS's styling better links this big SUV's looks to the brand's other utility models. It also smooths out the rear three-quarter view, which was pretty blocky in the outgoing GLS. We think luxury SUV buyers will particularly appreciate the work Mercedes's stylists did on the interior. The slick new design better positions the GLS in its quest to steal buyers from competitors like the Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover and Lincoln Navigator.
As before, the GLS includes seating for up to seven spread across three rows. New this year is a six-seat variant that trades a second-row bench for a pair of captain's chairs. Regardless of which configuration you choose, all of the GLS's seats are power adjustable. All of the rear seats stow away electrically via a single button that folds all second- and third-row seats at once. There's also a button that lowers the cargo load floor by 50 mm to ease loading.
Mercedes says the 2020 GLS is 77 mm longer, 22 mm wider, and rides on a wheelbase stretched 60 mm. That additional size translates into more interior space, which Benz claims is most noticeable in the second row. Mercedes also claims the two third-row seats are "full size," offering space for people well over six feet (up to 1.94 m) tall.
Option your GLS properly and your luxury SUV will have more screens than a multiplex. Every GLS starts with two displays up front, one for the driver and a second in the console to house the new MBUX infotainment system. Choose the second-row captain's chairs (part of the Premium Rear Seating Package) and Benz puts another 7.0-inch touchscreen in the central armrest to control infotainment and climate functions. An optional rear seat entertainment system installs two more 11.6-inch screens for watching movies, listening to music and streaming the Internet.
Other comfort/convenience options include a five-zone climate control system: two zones each for the front and second-row seats, and a fifth for the pair of people in the third row.
Buyers can option the GLS with the Mercedes E-active body control suspension, which can adjust damping forces at individual wheels to counteract body roll, suspension pitching and squat.
Finally, Mercedes has added a car wash function to the new GLS. Push a button and the suspension rises to its highest setting, the side mirrors fold in, the sunroof and side windows close and the climate control system switches to re-circulation mode. This feature also deactivates the automatic wipers' rain sensor and switches on the 360-degree camera system's front view.
Mercedes-Benz Canada's Lucas Dias says the 2020 GLS is scheduled to begin arriving at the company's Canadian dealers at the end of summer.