Formerly known as the GL-Class, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class gets a new name to reflect the brand's belief that it's the S-Class of SUVs. Thanks to a bevy of upgrades from last year's GL-Class, the GLS-Class appears to have properly earned this designation, as it is one of the most desirable models Mercedes-Benz has to offer.
Some subtle yet striking styling changes at the front and the rear of the vehicle set the GLS-Class apart from last year's model, but there's much more going on behind the scenes. The all-new nine-speed automatic transmission that's available across the line (with the exception of the AMG version) is simply superb. There's also an upgraded infotainment system that features a larger central display, a touchpad and an optional upgrade to Apple CarPlay.
The interior is typical GL-style, with its premium vinyl upholstery and genuine wood trim, and features a new three-spoke steering wheel (a racy flat-bottomed version is available with the AMG model). The third row of the GLS-Class can even comfortably accommodate adult passengers. And despite its engine upgrades, the 2017 GLS is thankfully as quiet as GLs of the past.
Performance-wise, the GLS-Class drives with a considerable amount of agility, belying its massive size. Acceleration has plenty of pep across the trim levels, save for the diesel variant GLS 350d. What the diesel lacks in acceleration, it more than makes up for by offering the best fuel economy of any GLS-Class. With the exception of the GLS 450's turbocharged V6, all engines across the line have a bit more horsepower than last year's GL-Class. Adding the V8 and sport-tuned suspension from the AMG version only heightens the driving experience of this ultra-premium luxury SUV.
The 2017 GLS-Class is available in four different trim levels, from the standard GLS 450 to the high-performance AMG GLS 63. In between lies the GLS 550, which adds the many premium options from the 450, then adds even more — including wood steering-wheel inserts. There's even an Off-Road package available that, among other things, adds a dual-range transfer case and front underbody protection so you can choose the road less traveled.
The new GLS-Class is well deserving of the S-Class designation because there really is no other SUV like it when it comes to its unparalleled luxury, driving experience and technology. Edmunds will help you find the right trim and packages — and the right price — to make the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class yours.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.