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2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

Driving the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV: Electric Family Hauler With Plenty of Wow

Zero emissions, sure, but get a load of the tech

  • Adapts the design of the EQS sedan in a larger package
  • Interior comfort and ride quality stand out
  • 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?

One thing Mercedes-Benz knows how to do — whether through flashy design, sumptuous interiors or cloud-like ride comfort — is flex. Now, the brand is flexing EV-style. Consider the 2023 EQS SUV, a fully electric crossover with up to three rows of seats, on sale this fall from $105,550 including destination fees. It arrives as electric SUVs are still mainly limited to small- to medium-sized models, even luxury ones, in order to keep prices amenable. Currently, the only EVs to offer a third row are the Tesla Model Y and larger Model X. But the EQS SUV is even larger, with a wheelbase nearly 10 inches longer than the Model X.

Mercedes is making a brash entrance into the large EV market, banking on the brand's signature style and indulgence. We got behind the wheel to find out whether this flex ends with muscle or mishaps.

How does the EQS SUV drive?

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

We've driven both the EQS SUV 450 4Matic and the more powerful EQS SUV 580. Both are powered by dual electric motors, and they come standard with Mercedes' intelligent 4Matic all-wheel drive. A base-level EQS SUV 450+ model is also available with a single motor and rear-wheel drive. No matter which way you shake it, these EVs are big boys. Mercedes has not revealed weight figures for the EQS SUV, but it's clearly significant. The view from the driver's seat is commanding, and driving at highway speed makes it very clear that an impressive amount of mass is hurtling forward — in silence.

Thankfully the EQS SUV is up for the job. Acceleration feels plenty powerful in the 450 4Matic (which produces 355 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque) and a touch more vigorous with the 536-hp 580. However, both are a step removed from the savage acceleration of its Tesla competitors. Steering is responsive and fluid, aided by the vehicle's ability to turn the rear wheels (more on that in the off-roading section below). The EQS SUV is equipped with powerful brakes that can stop it in a hurry and regenerate loads of power to be stored in the battery for later use. But there's also reverb deep in the pedal under hard stops and a cushy sensation periodically around town. Far from an athlete, the EQS SUV is lively in spite of its size and best when driven naturally.

How much range does the EQS SUV have?

The base EQS 450+ is the range champion of the lineup, getting an EPA-estimated 305 miles on a full charge. The dual-motor EQS 450 4Matic and EQS 580 4Matic, by contrast, are rated a little lower at 285 miles. That said, we tested an EQS sedan on our patented Edmunds EV test route and it returned an impressive 422 miles, handily beating its 350-mile EPA estimate.

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 add 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?

An air suspension is standard on all EQS SUV models alongside an adaptive damping system; the combination allows the body to quickly react to road conditions and smooth out the ride for passengers. This setup works like a charm, giving the EQS SUV gentle adjustments that would cause standard suspensions to rock and sway. You can feel the dampers, or shock absorbers, moving underneath to wrangle the heft into submission. The effect is more subtle and muted than we've experienced recently in a three-row Land Rover Range Rover, for instance.

It's a bit surprising, however, that small undulations in the road are more noticeable. While the air suspension evens out larger dips, the enormous wheels of the EQS SUV transmit small cracks and bumps into the cabin frequently. We tested a model with 21-inch wheels and a 45 sidewall rating, which are quite large tires with room to flex and absorb. Still there were trembles, perhaps exaggerated by the smoothness of the air suspension. Regardless, the EQS SUV is impeccably quiet inside. You will notice a touch of wind noise, owing to the lack of an engine to drown it out, but noise from the road is absent and we observed no rattling or squeaking panels inside. This is a level of comfort worth its price tag — provided you're OK with minor vibrations.

How's the EQS SUV's interior?

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

Let the flexing begin. The EQS SUV exhibits stellar quality throughout its cabin, including both lavish soft-touch surfaces and dazzling visual elements. Heated and ventilated leather seats come standard, as do 64-color ambient mood lighting and a panoramic sunroof. Two standout features are the dash's wood paneling with laser-incised aluminum Mercedes star logos and the door panels made of a delightfully delicate suede-like material. We especially like how the trim on the beltline is stretched on both horizontal and vertical surfaces — a testament to Merc's build expertise. If your EQS SUV passes on the 56-inch Hyperscreen for the more reserved 12.8-inch center display, you also get this superbly crafted design on the passenger dash — a fun and gratifying touch, in my humble opinion.

The seats themselves? Excellent. Soft, authentic leather surfacing hides ample cushioning underneath. The seat bottoms are surprisingly wide, but pronounced bolsters hold your thighs and sides in place through the turns. Lumbar support must be controlled through the touchscreen (or passenger display, if you have the Hyperscreen), which is annoying. Another small frustration is the adjusting needed to find a good seating position, given the steering wheel must be high enough to see the digital driver display below its outer rim. Take a moment or two to experiment before setting off. Overall space inside, though, is abundant. There's plenty of room in the first two rows for adults 6 feet or taller. The second row folds down with one-touch power access to climb into the optional third row. Make no mistake — it's for kids only. But at least no manual labor is required.

How's the EQS SUV's tech?

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

There's no doubt about it: Technology is one of the EQS SUV's strong suits. To start you have two choices: a 12.8-inch central touchscreen standard on the EQS SUV 450 and 450+ or the 56-inch Hyperscreen standard on the 580. The latter ensconces three displays — including one in front of the passenger — in one curved glass enclosure. Both options run on the latest version of Mercedes' MBUX operating system, which is responsive and has a delightfully high-resolution screen. Of particular note are the voice controls, which can be activated with a simple "Hey, Mercedes" and carry out commands from radio and navigation to climate and seat controls.

Back to the screens. Mercedes includes as standard augmented reality navigation, updated to clearly transpose arrows and other graphics atop a forward-facing camera view to quite literally guide you to destinations. As an optional feature you can also have this system installed in the head-up display. The overall effect is charming and helpful, though it takes some practice making on-the-fly decisions in unfamiliar areas. As for the Hyperscreen specifically, the center display is dramatically larger than the standard touchscreen and presents a world of information to the driver. Without question, it's impressive — but at what point is there too much? It can be difficult to train your eye to find the info you want, having to wade through all the info you see. We also criticize Tesla for hiding nearly all vehicle functions in the screen, and while the EQS SUV does have some physical buttons and you can adjust the mirrors and air vents without digging into MBUX, the sheer amount of adjustability within the screen is dizzying. But again, there's no denying the Hyperscreen's flair. Passengers can research locations and toss directions to the center display, adjust any number of vehicle functions, or research detailed electric energy infographics in real time. It's remarkable. It's also overwhelming.

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.

Can the EQS SUV go off-road?

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

By no means is this a dedicated rock-crawler. Even in its highest suspension setting, the EQS SUV maxes out at less than 9 inches of ground clearance — a meager amount by modern standards. We ran the SUV along a muddy course organized by Mercedes, and while it handled some impressive obstacles, our main takeaway is a suite of eye-popping tech features. First, the EQS SUV automatically activates an overhead-view camera and projects an image onto the screen that "sees through" the hood to give you a clear view of rocks and pits in the trail. Pick up speed? That switches the camera into a forward-facing view with live angles and measurements on screen. The second feature is the aforementioned rear-wheel steering, able to turn the back wheels up to 10 degrees in either direction. At highway speed the front and rear wheels turn in sync for increased stability, and in low speeds (like off-road) wheels turn opposite to make the EQS SUV unbelievably maneuverable for a vehicle its size. We pulled hairpin turns that seemed awfully treacherous, and had room to spare. Does this mean you should head for the mountains in your $130,000 EV? No. But it does have us wondering when an EQ G-Class will arrive.

How economical is the EQS SUV?

On a 105-mile test drive on mountain roads and highways, we observed energy consumption of 31.6 kWh per 100 miles in an EQS SUV 580, according to the vehicle's digital readout. If accurate, that would be remarkably low consumption for an EV of this size, but we'll reserve judgment until we can take it on Edmunds' real-world EV evaluation loop.

Edmunds says

Yes, it's electric. But more importantly, the EQS SUV is a worthy Mercedes-Benz. The high price tag will understandably give some buyers pause, and there are obvious ways it can be improved for a future billionaire-special Maybach model. Still, the EQS SUV makes a bold debut in what will soon be a crowded segment with Tesla, BMW and others vying for your attention.