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- Lots of room
- Lots of flexibility
- Big luxury SUV panache
- Lots of safety technology on tap
- AMG–no, really
- Dated switchgear
- COMAND is cumbersome
- Diesel’s been deleted
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS takes an old-school tack to modern-SUV design, and it works.
Last year, the Mercedes GL became the Mercedes-Benz GLS. Though it wasn’t entirely new, the SUV gained a new nose and some new features as it added another letter in its name.
It’s still one of the more charming three-row luxury SUVs on the road, and its impressive all-weather and cargo-hauling talents get an unexpected but totally welcome AMG edition.
All told, the 2018 GLS-Class gets a 7.8 out of 10, on our overall scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Lightly refreshed last year, the big and boxy Benz GLS takes a delightful old-school tack in styling. It’s boxy and delights in it, once it gets past its big LED headlights and enormous three-pointed-star logo. The interior’s warmed up considerably since the early days of the GL: there’s great plates of wood, swaths of leather (an option), and a large display screen perched on the center of the dash, a lonely sour note in the well-coordinated cabin.
The GLS 450 sports a 362-horsepower twin-turbo V-6, a 9-speed automatic, and standard all-wheel drive for brisk acceleration. Speedier still is the twin-turbo V-8 GLS 550, with 449 hp shuttled through the same 9-speed to all four wheels. Far and away our favorite, the scalding AMG GLS 63 has a no-excuses twin-turbo V-8 with 577 hp and a 7-speed automatic.
All versions have very good handling, which feels odd at first, given the long and tall body and 8.5 inches of ground clearance. Air suspension mutes almost all of the worst of the road ahead, though the adaptive anti-sway bars confuse us as they try to defy the laws of physics as they apply to tall, heavy wagons.
The GLS’ pilot will feel in control of what seems like a smaller vehicle, but the passengers won’t be cramped. The GLS has room in every direction, lovely bolstered seats, some with heating and cooling, all with available multi-way power adjustment or fold-away talent. There’s nearly 100 cubic feet of cargo space inside, or space for as many as seven adults, two of them riding in the third row.
Safety scores haven’t been released, but the GLS can be fitted with blind-spot monitors, surround-view cameras, and active lane control.
The GLS doesn’t venture all the way into Range Rover territory, but in addition to its hefty standard equipment list, it can be fitted with navigation, high-end audio, premium leathers and woods, and an off-road package. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included–good thing, since the COMAND interface gives us fits.