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2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV: The Next Big Thing in EVs

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV: The Next Big Thing in EVs

Three rows of luxury with zero emissions

  • Adapts the design of the EQS in a larger package
  • Exceedingly comfortable, even in the worst conditions
  • An ultra-luxury Maybach version is expected in the future
  • Part of the first EQS SUV generation introduced for 2023

What is the EQS SUV?

The EQS SUV will be Mercedes-Benz's largest offering in its rapidly expanding EQ electric vehicle lineup. Like the EQS with the S-Class and EQE with the E-Class, the EQS SUV sits in parallel with its internal combustion alternative in the Mercedes model range. The EQS SUV, then, is meant to be an electric equivalent to the GLS three-row crossover.

We got a sneak peek of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV in Frankfurt, Germany, but later we had an opportunity to drive a prototype version at Mercedes' winter testing facility in Sweden. Sales of the production model are anticipated later this year as a 2023 model. With the U.S. such a big potential marketplace, the EQS SUV will be built here at Mercedes-Benz's plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

What powers the EQS SUV?

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

The EQS SUV rides on Mercedes-Benz's EVA2 platform. This scalable platform also underpins the EQS and EQE sedans, and it can accept several drivetrain configurations and battery sizes depending on the vehicle requirements.

The EQS SUV is the largest model spun off this bespoke electric vehicle architecture, and it uses the largest battery with usable capacity of 107.8 kWh. Initially, we'll get two models in the U.S.: the EQS 450+ and the EQS 580 4Matic. The base EQS 450+ has a single motor powering the rear wheels and has an output of 355 horsepower and 419 lb-ft of torque. The 580 4Matic adds a second motor to power the front wheels for all-wheel drive, and combined output sits at 536 hp and 633 lb-ft of torque.

There's no official word from Mercedes yet, but we fully expect a higher-performance AMG model to join the lineup later in its production run.

How much range does the EQS SUV have?

The base EQS 450+ is the range champion of the lineup, getting an estimated 373 miles on a full charge. That estimate is based on the European model, which tends to be more optimistic than EPA estimates and real-world results. That said, the EQS sedan we tested returned an impressive 422 miles, handily beating its 350-mile EPA estimate. We expect the EQS 580 4Matic to have a shorter range, perhaps closer to 300 miles.

Both EQS SUV models have DC fast-charging capabilities up to 200 kW. Mercedes says you can charge from 10% to 80% in 31 minutes, or about 186 miles in only 15 minutes. EQS owners will benefit from two years of free charging on the Electrify America network, as long as you access it through the Mercedes Me charge service. That service also allows for charging on other networks, simplifying the payment process through one account, and at select Plug and Charge stations, you won't even need to swipe your card.

How comfortable is the EQS SUV?

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

Our drive on rough compacted snow and ice, in conjunction with the winter tires on our vehicle, is one of the worst combinations to evaluate ride comfort and road noise, which makes the EQS SUV's performance here incredibly impressive. The cabin is large and airy, which could create a large echo chamber if there were any road noise. But even at highway speeds, the EQS SUV is supremely quiet, with wind, tire and road noise all virtually undetectable.

The standard air suspension maintains fine control, too, no matter whether you select the Comfort or Sport driving mode. Sport firms up things a notch, but not so much as to be detrimental to the overall ride quality. That appears true, too, from an extended drive as a passenger on some paved roads and around the test facility. Though we'll reserve final judgments until we drive a full production car in more representative regular conditions, from our early access drive the EQS SUV's comfort looks very promising. 

How's the EQS SUV's interior?

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

From behind the wheel, the EQS SUV is very similar to the EQS sedan. The striking glass Hyperscreen spans the entire dashboard, with embedded screens for the instrument panel and infotainment. There's also an optional third screen for the front passenger. That Hyperscreen is standard on the 4Matic and optional on the base 450+, which receives a standard dash layout similar to the S-Class sedan with a large tablet-like touchscreen in the dash center.

As expected, materials quality is excellent throughout the cabin and construction is solid. That holds true for the second row of seats, where some carmakers will use lower-quality but higher-durability materials to withstand the rigors of child passengers. Those seats are large enough for taller adult passengers, though, with a wealth of headroom and legroom.

Accessing the optional third row of seats can be done at the touch of a single button on the top of the second-row seatbacks. It takes a rather long time for the second-row seats to slide and fold forward, which may be problematic for hurried carpool pickups and drop-offs, but the opening is adequately large to allow for easy-ish access. The third row is significantly smaller than the second, making it best suited for children or occasional use in a pinch for smaller adults.

How's the EQS SUV's tech?

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

The EQS SUV's tech is largely carried over from the EQS sedan, which, given these models' status as the flagships in the range, means plenty of infotainment, safety, convenience and comfort features, many of which are optional. The Drive Pilot Level 3 automated driving system offered on the EQS sedan, however, will not be available on the SUV. The brains of the EQS SUV's tech center is the MBUX operating system. For the most part, MBUX operates smoothly and has easy-to-navigate menus for occasionally used features, with key operating functions kept front of house and close to hand.

Being an EQ model means within those menus there are plenty of options for planning timed charging, pre-conditioning the interior, route planning and viewing your energy use. Indeed, Mercedes-Benz suggests always using the navigation system to allow the car to best calculate its most efficient energy use. On the options list is an augmented reality overlay for the navigation system, a huge head-up display, a 360-degree parking camera and a Dolby Atmos surround-sound system. The list of driver aids is extensive and familiar, and the EQS SUV's aids like lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control all work very well and help take the grind out of longer trips.

Over the regular EQS's drive modes, the EQS SUV gains a couple of off-road-specific programs. The engineers admit that it was predominantly designed for on-road use, but testing in both the winter conditions here, as well as desert driving, revealed the drivetrain's capabilities in tougher conditions off-road. It's not likely to challenge the GMC Hummer EV for battery-powered off-road prowess, but the EQS SUV should cope with a bit of light trail driving if it's required. 

How is the EQS SUV's storage?

If optioned with the third row of seats, you can squeeze a mere 7 cubic feet in the cargo area, but Mercedes says that's still enough for four golf bags and we're inclined to believe that estimate. With the third row stowed, there's up to 28 cubic feet behind the second row. And at its maximum with those seats folded flat, capacity jumps to 71 cubic feet. (Without the third row, the metrics are 31 cubic feet and 74 cubic feet, respectively.) Unlike many other EVs, there's no front trunk (frunk) under the hood.

In the passenger compartment, there are plenty of moderately sized pockets, bins and cupholders for your personal effects. There's also a wireless charging pad for your phone and a large tray under the center console that can accept larger items.

Edmunds says

It is unusual to get such early access and drive a vehicle so far in advance of its production launch, but our brief test of the EQS SUV prototype underlines that this vehicle should be an impressive new contender in the battery electric SUV category. There are few contenders out there for it, especially at its likely price point, but for those looking for an alternative to rival the Tesla Model X for range, and wanting that with the sort of luxury, quality and technology that Mercedes-Benz promises, the EQS SUV is certain to be hugely desirable.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV