Best Large Luxury SUV: Mercedes GLS-Class

There’s no doubt the luxury class for large SUVs is full of many exceptional choices. However, there is one that stands out from the pack, as this is why the Mercedes-Benz GLS earned our honor for the best large luxury SUV.

The Mercedes-Benz GLS is a new concept from the manufacturer. The GL name became synonymous for being a seven-passenger SUV that offered first-class features in the way of style and performance. Meanwhile, the S-Class was Mercedes-Benz’s designation for its world renown sedans. The manufacturer decided to combine the two to make an SUV with the same touches of luxury you would expect with a muscular flair, normally reserved for its sedan models.

Overall, this merging of both styles created a captivating profile. This, along with many other features is why the Mercedes GLS is the best large SUV available. Here’s a closer sampling of some of the many benefits you receive with this stylish ride.

Versatility

As with all SUVs, their interior versatility, or lack thereof can make or break it for prospective buyers. The Mercedes-Benz GLS doesn’t have this problem, though. First, it has large side doors that make it easy for passengers to step into and out of the SUV. Moreover, the three rows of seating create plenty of configurations you can use to account for storage and seating solutions. Best of all, the power-folding third row makes it simple to open up more cargo room quickly.

Speaking of cargo space, the GLS has it in spades. With the power-folding third row and the 60/40 split second-row seating, the SUV has a maximum cargo space of 93.8 cubic feet. This gives it an edge on competitors such as the Toyota Land Cruiser (81.70 cubic feet) and the Land Rover Range Rover (71.70 cubic feet).

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Performance

High-powered performance is a trademark of any Mercedes-Benz vehicle and the GLS is no different in this regard. It comes with the optional handcrafted Biturbo V8 engine. The engine generates a startling 577-horsepower. This provides it with a significant edge over competitors like the Cadillac Escalade, which has a 420-horsepower output.

The GLS also has a V6 engine that delivers 362-horsepower and a clean diesel engine offering, making them great choices if efficiency is more of a priority. In the cases of the V8 and V6 engines, they feature the advanced direct injection, which helps the engines deliver more power with less fuel consumption.

Power is only one aspect of the GLS that will excite you. Standard on this SUV is the 4MATIC all-wheel drive. This system sends power to wheels that possess the most traction so you have the best command of the road no matter its surface. Another component helping you in this regard is the four-wheel AIRMATIC suspension system. This system adapts to the road conditions and cargo weight to provide a smoother ride.

Speaking of adaptability, new for the GLS is the nine-speed automatic transmission. This transmission, coupled with the new Dynamic Select—where you can choose between different driving modes—gives you ample choices to align your drives more towards your preferences.

The one area where the GLS could use some slight work would be in its towing capacity. It’s important to note the SUV possesses the ability to tow a maximum of 7,500 pounds, which is more than what the average need would dictate. Still, if you plan on pushing the SUV to the limits, there are options with better towing capacity such as the Infiniti QX80—which has a towing capacity of 8,500 pounds.

Technology

One of the reasons why people spend more on luxury offerings is the incredible technological features that come in the SUV. The GLS is no different in this regard. An excellent feature found on the GLS is the Intelligent Drive. This provides you with virtual eyes that see the road and react on your behalf. To demonstrate, the Active Brake Assist reads the road conditions and can sense when a collision is imminent. When it does so, it will apply the brakes to help avoid the accident.

When you step inside the GLS, what you will immediately notice is its new eight-inch central screen. This is part of the COMAND system, giving you access to a wealth of features through its intuitive touchpad. What makes this such a beneficial feature is the fact its central location makes it ergonomic for drivers to access the information you need quickly. Along with this, the GLS features two high-end audio systems, one from Harman/Kardon and one from Bang & Olufsen.

While we are on the entertainment end, the GLS delivers for second-row passengers by supplying a pair of beautiful flat screens. These screens have multiple inputs, allow your passengers to watch DVDs, play video games and more. Furthermore, you can use wireless headphones to keep distractions to a minimum or the GLS’s sound system, depending on passenger preferences. Overall, the high-level of technological equipment in the GLS serves to illustrate just how incredibly fun this SUV will make your drives.

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Comparison Metrics

To give you a fuller idea of why we chose the Mercedes-GLS, we wanted to show you how it compares to others in its class. Here is a closer look at some of the key areas where the GLS excels:

  • Price: The GLS begins from $68,700. While this is expensive, it is actually a steal for the large luxury SUV market where the average cost per model is $83,985, according to automotive research site AxleGeeks. This means the GLS represents a savings of $15,285.
  • Fuel efficiency: The GLS earns on average 22 combined mpg. This makes it more efficient than the Lincoln Navigator (17 combined mpg) and the Cadillac Escalade (18 combined mpg).
  • Interior Space: As noted previously, the GLS has more cargo space than the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Our Take

Overall, the Mercedes-Benz GLS delivers in key areas such as affordability, fuel economy, and interior space, making it the best choice in a class dominated by excellent offerings.

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