The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class SUV has a new name, and we're here to tell you why. The S-Class, you see, has been Mercedes' flagship sedan for decades; it's a luxury icon in its own right. Mercedes wanted its top-of-the-line family crossover to tap into that heritage, so last year's GL-Class has become this year's GLS-Class. The idea is that it's the S-Class of SUVs, and we have to admit that this well-mannered beast makes a pretty compelling case.
Freshened front-end styling helps differentiate the 2017 GLS-Class from its GL-Class forebear.
The GL-Class was already at the top of its game, but the 2017 GLS-Class still manages to take things up a notch. Mild styling changes front and rear mask more significant upgrades under the skin, including a superb new nine-speed automatic transmission (on all models except the AMG) and an upgraded infotainment system with a larger central display and a touchpad. The GLS is great to drive, too, with remarkable agility for such a behemoth and powerful acceleration in every trim save the diesel-fueled GLS350d. Even the relatively pokey diesel is hardly a lost cause, as it returns easily the best fuel economy of the bunch -- a trade-off that many shoppers may find reasonable.
Direct competition for the 2017 GLS-Class is surprisingly thin. BMW doesn't offer a full-size three-row crossover yet, and the otherwise stellarAudi Q7 lacks the Benz's range of engines and adult-friendly third-row seat. The Land Rover LR4 boasts inimitable style and serious off-road capability along with true three-row seating, but it's really a class down from the ultra-luxurious GLS. Japanese rivals include the distinctive Infiniti QX80 and the aging but still competent Lexus LX 570, while the gargantuan Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator serve as patriotic alternatives. But for now, at least, no large crossover or SUV can match the all-around talents of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class include automatic crosswind stabilization, trailer stability assist, front side airbags, a driver knee airbag, full-length side curtain airbags, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and a driver attention/drowsiness monitor. Also standard are a rearview camera and a five-year subscription to mbrace Connect (includes Mercedes-Benz roadside assistance).
For additional peace of mind, mbrace Secure is available and includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location and more. The Premium 1 package adds a blind-spot monitor and lane-keeping assist, while the Driver Assistance package contributes adaptive cruise control, an upgraded collision mitigation system with pedestrian recognition, speed limit assist and "active" blind spot and lane-keeping assist systems that can automatically guide the car back into its lane if the driver fails to heed their warnings.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is a large, seven-passenger SUV available in four models: GLS350d, GLS450, GLS550 and AMG GLS 63.
The GLS350d and GLS450 have different turbocharged V6 engines (powered by diesel fuel and gasoline, respectively), but are otherwise similarly equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, a self-leveling air suspension, power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors, automatic headlights, LED running lights and taillights, a sunroof, automatic wipers, roof rails, rear privacy glass, a power liftgate and mbrace Connect remote vehicle access (via smartphone app; includes remote start).
Every GLS-Class model comes with all-wheel drive and a multimode terrain selector on the center console.
Interior highlights include "MB-Tex" premium vinyl upholstery, heated front seats, a 10-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, a power-adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, genuine wood trim and dual-zone automatic climate control. Electronics highlights include the COMAND infotainment interface (with both a control knob and a touchpad), an 8-inch central display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 115-volt household-style power outlet and a sound system that features HD radio and dual USB ports.
The Premium package for these two models adds keyless entry and ignition, a power front passenger seat with memory settings, lighted door sills and multicolor ambient lighting, a navigation system with real-time traffic, voice controls, Apple CarPlay and satellite radio, as well as a couple of notable safety features (see Safety section, below).
The Lighting package bundles adaptive LED headlights and automatic high beams. The Parking Assist package adds front and rear parking sensors, an automated parallel-parking system and a surround-view camera system. Also available are three-zone automatic climate control, ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, a 13-speakerHarman Kardon sound system with a CD/DVD player, an SD card reader and "multicontour" front seats that add a massaging feature and adjustable side bolsters and shoulder supports.
The GLS550 starts with all of the above as standard, adding or substituting a V8 engine, 21-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, sporty exterior styling cues, soft-close doors and upgraded interior trim (including wood steering-wheel inserts). The optional Night package throws in 21-inch black wheels and gloss-black exterior accents.
Optional items on all three of the above models (GLS350d, GLS450, GLS550) include a panoramic sunroof, heated second-row seats, "designo" diamond-quilted leather upholstery and the Driver Assistance package, which consists of adaptive cruise control and several advanced safety technologies (see Safety section, below). The GLS450 and GLS550 can also be equipped with an Off-Road package that includes an upgraded multimode terrain selector, a dual-range transfer case and front underbody protection; on the GLS450, it also adds the GLS550's standard adaptive dampers.
The high-performance AMG GLS 63 starts with most of the above, adding or substituting an even more powerful V8, a sport exhaust, exclusive 21-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, adaptive stabilizer bars (the "Active Curve System" in Mercedes-speak), AMG-specific styling elements inside and out, enhanced bolstering for the front seats, upgraded leather upholstery (with a complimentary headliner) and a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel.
All four GL models can also be outfitted with a trailer hitch, a heated steering wheel, power-sliding second-row seats for third-row access, rear side window sunshades, a rear entertainment system, a WiFi hotspot and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS350d is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 engine that generates 255 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. The GLS450 uses up to a 3.0-liter turbocharged gasoline V6 rated at 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The GLS550 gets a 4.6-liter V8 that churns out 449 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. All three of these models come standard with all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The GLS550 pictured here comes standard with a turbocharged V8 engine that serves up sports-carlike acceleration.
The AMG GLS 63, meanwhile, employs a 5.5-liter V8 that provides an astonishing 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. It comes with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic.
According to the EPA, the GLS450 should return 19 mpg combined (17 city/22 highway), with the GLS550 dropping to 16 mpg combined (14/18) and the AMG GLS 63 bringing up the rear at 14 mpg combined (13/17). The GLS350d has not been rated as of this writing, but should deliver even better numbers than the GLS450.
Properly equipped, all GLS-Class models can tow a maximum of 7,500 pounds.
Compared to the GL-Class, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class benefits from suspension refinements that provide a more controlled, confident feel in corners. Nonetheless, it retains the quiet interior and absorbent ride over bumps for which the GL was known. Braking performance was a strong suit for the GL, and we expect it to remain one for the GLS, which stops with the drama-free ease of a much smaller vehicle.
Compared to other large three-row crossover SUVs, the 2017 GLS-Class is a joy to drive.
We're a bit disappointed with the lack of real-world oomph from the diesel-powered GLS350d, especially given its prodigious torque rating, but the other three engines pour on the performance in increasingly concentrated doses. The GLS450 is a fleet SUV in its own right, but the V8-powered models practically redefine what's possible for a large crossover with their effortless acceleration.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class will look pretty familiar inside if you've spent time in the latest GL. There's a smattering of updates, however, including a redesigned instrument panel and a new three-spoke steering wheel. Most notably, the infotainment system gets an improved 8-inch display screen (an inch larger than last year) and a touchpad that works in tandem with the default console-mounted control knob. This system continues to be one of our favorites due to its user-friendly menu structure and quick responses.
The dashboard of the GLS-class is a carryover from the outgoing GL-Class, and it shows in the relatively mundane styling and button layout.
Materials and design aren't quite in the S-Class league overall, particularly if you focus on the area between the climate controls and the dashboard display, where a flat plastic panel with a number of small buttons makes for a somewhat dated look. Make no mistake, though. This is an exceptionally nice interior by segment standards. The standard MB-Tex vinyl upholstery on GLS350d and GLS450 models does seem a bit low-budget for a vehicle at this price, but you'd probably be hard-pressed to tell it apart from the real leather of some other brands. Moreover, the availability of multiple wood inlays and even diamond-quilted leather upholstery make it easy to add an even higher-end look and feel.
Of course, the GLS's calling card is its roomy adult-size accommodations in all three rows. The standard front seats are agreeable enough, but the optional "multicontour" seats with heating, ventilation and massage functions are unquestionably the way to go if you can stomach the added cost. While the GLS550 and AMG GLS 63 both come standard with the multicontour chairs, the latter gets an upgraded set with aggressive sport bolstering that underscores the added performance. Second-row passengers have plenty of room to stretch out, and although 6-footers will feel a bit cramped in the third row, everyone else should be just fine back there. It's one of the more accommodating third-row seats you'll find in any crossover.
When it comes to hauling cargo, the GLS-Class offers 16 cubic feet of space behind the third row, which is comparable to the trunk of your average midsize sedan. Folding those seatbacks down gets you 49.4 cubic feet behind the second row, while dropping both the second- and third-row seatbacks opens up a class-competitive 93.8 cubic feet of space.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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