The Car Connection Mercedes-Benz GLS Class Overview
The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is a full-size luxury sport-utility vehicle, with three rows of seating and space for up to seven. It was a new nameplate introduced for the 2017 model year, but this big SUV is conceptually a continuation of the GL-Class model line.
As part of a comprehensive nomenclature change, affecting nearly every model in the Mercedes-Benz lineup other than its core sedans (the C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class), the brand’s SUVs are being renamed according to their respective size—GLC, GLE, and GLS—with the GLS taking a clearer position as the brand’s SUV flagship.
With the GLS-Class, Mercedes-Benz has a rival for big luxury SUVs including the Lincoln Navigator, Audi Q7, and upcoming BMW X7.
For the 2018 model year, it carries over with no changes.
MORE: Read our 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class review
The GLS is a very large vehicle—more than 200 inches long, with a wheelbase of 121 inches—and thus isn’t all that maneuverable. But with seven-place seating—all spacious enough for adults—and towing capability up to 7,500 pounds, the GLS covers some of the same bases as vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, and Lexus LX 570, yet with a little more finesse.
As part of the translation from GL to GLS, the lineup got a mid-cycle refresh, with front-end styling that puts it more in line with other recent model introductions. The grille is a bit larger and more upright, with larger air intakes in front, plus a more swept-back lower fascia and sculpted fenders. Inside, the GLS inherits the standalone infotainment systems that have propagated throughout most of the Mercedes-Benz lineup by now—only here without the latest details like the round vents and showy bezels.
The GLS model line includes the twin-turbo V-6 GLS450 4Matic, the twin-turbo V-8 GLS550 4Matic, and the top-performance 577-horsepower AMG GLS63.
Nine-speed automatic transmissions have been introduced across the model line, while the adaptive air suspension that’s available has become just a bit more oriented toward on-the-road performance—although there’s still a serious off-road package that brings far more ground clearance and capability.
Interior accommodations for the GLS-Class are entirely luxury-caliber. Upholsteries and trims were revisited and upgraded for 2017, and all three rows of seating can fit adults easily—although the third row is a little more difficult to get into and out of.
The GLS has a great reputation for safety, and while there aren’t any U.S. crash-test results to go by, it does include a rearview camera, seat belt pre-tensioners, Attention Assist to help warn you if you’re drowsy, and a full suite of airbags and stability controls.
Options include blind-spot monitors; active lane control that steers to keep you in your lane (hands on the wheel, though); and forward-collision alerts with automatic braking. A heated adaptive windshield wiper system should help visibility in winter weather, too.
The company has hinted that it may add a Mercedes-Maybach version of the GLS-Class, but such a model hasn’t yet been announced. Unlike the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, whose wheelbase was extended beyond that of the longest S-Class, a GLS in Maybach trim would likely have the same dimensions—but considerably more luxury to let it compete with the ultra-luxe Range Rover SV Autobiography series.
The GLS, like the GL it succeeds, is built in Alabama.