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The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV Delivers the Silent Luxury You'd Expect of a Three-Row Electric Crossover

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV Delivers the Silent Luxury You'd Expect of a Three-Row Electric Crossover

Like an EQS, only more spacious and more capable off-road

  • 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.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV will be shown in production form at next month's Beijing Auto Show, but we got 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 differing 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 120 kWh of gross capacity and usable capacity of 107.6 kWh. While the EVA2 platform allows the possibility of single-motor, rear-wheel-drive models, the EQS SUV will only be offered with dual motors, one driving each axle to deliver 4Matic four-wheel drive. Mercedes will offer a total of three powertrains — likely called the EQS SUV 450+, EQS 580 and an AMG model, which could be badged as the AMG EQS SUV or EQS SUV 53 4Matic+ — for global markets, with power outputs that range from 329 horsepower to 751 hp. It's not yet known which of these will power U.S. versions, but we can see Mercedes offering all three.

How much range does the EQS SUV have?

Mercedes-Benz has yet to reveal any official figures in relation to the battery range, but its engineers did mention that the initial goal within the company was for the EVA2 platform with its most efficient models to manage 484 miles (according to the European WLTP standard for measuring range), which they quietly admit they've achieved. Naturally, as the largest and heaviest model with the EVA2 underpinnings, the EQS SUV won't be able to reach those lofty range figures, but it's not unreasonable to expect an EPA-tested figure of around 300-350 miles depending on the model.

We'll report back when we've had the opportunity to properly evaluate the EQS SUV's range in real-world use. Charging times will match that of the EQS, so using its 200-kW maximum charging capacity, the EQS SUV should be able to top up from 10% to 80% capacity in around 32 minutes. Paying for that public charging should be easy, too, with the Mercedes me Charge app automatically debiting payments on many of the available fast-charging services in the U.S.

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

The serenity from its refinement is backed by a cabin, which is opulent in its luxury and rich in its technology. Our access to the prototype EQS SUV is so early that much of the cabin is still swathed in covers to hide it from prying eyes, but the areas we touch, from the plush cushioning and support of the seats, or the control surfaces like the door handles or steering wheel, all exhibit a quality we've come to expect from Mercedes-Benz. Those seats will offer functions including ventilation and massaging functions, too. Peeking behind some of those covers reveals, unsurprisingly, a cabin that's largely shared with the EQS sedan. Here, it comes fitted with Mercedes-Benz's optional dashboard-wide Hyperscreen. It will be optional, with the regular — and to many of us, preferable — two-screen dash setup from the EQS coming standard.

There's more head and shoulder room in the rear seats than the rather tight EQS, and the EQS SUV also brings the possibility to carry two additional passengers with power-operated third-row seats.

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 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, andthe 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 worry 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 are the EQS SUV's storage and towing?

Mercedes-Benz isn't yet revealing things like outright carrying capacity or towing ability, but the cargo area's size looks to be roughly the same as what you'll find in other three-row SUVs. Unlike some EVs Mercedes-Benz has elected not to offer a front trunk, or frunk. Instead, that space is taken up by a HEPA air filtration system to ensure that the air you're breathing in the cabin is cleaner than it is outside. The cabin itself has some useful storage for odds and ends, with a cubby between the front seats and a large open space underneath the center console.

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