Opulence and space take the driver’s seat in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, the three-row SUV that made its debut Wednesday at the 2019 New York auto show.
With the new GLS, Mercedes blocks and tackles to defend its turf from new arrivals such as the BMW X7 and Lincoln Navigator.
MORE: Read our 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class preview
Spun off from the also-new 2020 GLE-Class mid-size SUV, the 2020 GLS adds inches of wheelbase and a third row of seats to the same mechanical set, with some notable additions. The GLE’s subtly rounded shape stretches into a pleasantly rectangular form in the new GLS, behind a twin-barred grille and a massive Mercedes light-up logo. In the GLS cockpit, the vehicle’s shape echoes in the metallic trim that frames twin digital display screens and the quartet of air vents at the center of the dash.
On the performance front, a pair of new mild-hybrid powertrains get top billing. The turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 found in some new Mercedes sedans wedges in to the GLS450, and carries power ratings of 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. With the 48-volt mild-hybrid system—an integrated starter-generator provides electric power for ancillary systems to save fuel—another 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque can be tapped. The 2020 GLS450 can reach 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph, according to Mercedes; no gas mileage ratings have been published.
The same mild-hybrid pack appears on the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 in the GLS580. Its gas engine’s rated at 483 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, and it’s pegged at 5.2 seconds to 60 mph.
Both engines couple to a 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. An off-road package will be offered. The GLS’ air suspension and adaptive dampers pair with electric power steering and can ingest data from the vehicle’s surround-view camera system to predict and smooth the ride over rough roads.
At 205 inches (0.2 inches more on the GLS580), the new GLS has a couple more inches of second-row seating. It’s a plausible prelude to a Maybach version. All three rows of seats have power adjustments, and the second-row bench can be replaced by a pair of buckets and an executive seating package with tablet control of the car’s entertainment and climate systems. Mercedes promises a third row large enough for adults, including captain’s chairs.
All 2020 GLS SUVs get automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Other safety features include traffic-jam driver-assistance features that operate up to 37 mph and lane-change assist. A nifty trick: The GLS has a car-wash button that closes all windows and folds the mirrors in a single touch.
Along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, the 2020 Mercedes GLS can be outfitted with Burmester audio, five-zone climate control, second-row massaging seats, wireless smartphone charging, a head-up display, multi-contour front seats, and wheels from 19 inches up to 23 inches.
The price for the 2020 GLS-Class will be announced closer to its on-sale date, which is later this year.