Gone are the days when a stylish sedan was the only way to make a statement about your status. As the world moves to embrace a more practical type of vehicle and automakers have had to adapt. For Mercedes-Benz, this meant creating the GLS-Class, a high-riding version of the brand’s acclaimed S-Class. Of course, this means spending nearly as much money as you would to own said sedan, which is not an easy hurdle to overcome. If you can manage to cover the bill, you get access to an SUV with seating for seven, loads of standard features, and a choice between an inline-six or V8 engine. However, even the 483 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of the latter is not enough to match the performance of the BMW X7 and Audi Q7, but where it falls short in this regard, the Merc more than makes up for it in luxury and comfort. Is that enough to make it the best, though, or is it worth it to keep looking?
New for 2024
The new Mercedes-Benz GLS SUV has barely changed from last year, aside from a standard panorama roof and no-cost metallic paints. It is worth mentioning the 580 4Matic is officially part of the lineup after joining late in 2022.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class SUV Price: Which One to Buy
The starting price of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is $81,800, but it is no longer the only model in the range. You can get a V8-powered 580 4Matic for an MSRP of $105,000. You will still need to factor in some of the desirable packages, as well as the $1,150 destination charge.
The more powerful 580 4Matic is definitely appealing for S-Class lovers, as it is a truly effortlessly powerful SUV. However, the 450 4Matic is more than capable of getting you where you are going in style, and if you want to spend over six figures in the name of power, why aren’t you looking at the AMG GLS? Thus, we’d stick with the base model but spruce it up a bit with the Driver Assistance Package Plus. At a cost just shy of $2,000, it adds a total of 13 advanced safety features. The AMG appearance packages are once again expensive additions and superfluous ones when the AMG GLS exists.
Interior and Features
You’ll struggle to find a premium SUV that can truly seat seven passengers while still ensuring luxury and comfort, but the GLS does an admirable job of it.
The SUV version of the beloved S-Class has an extravagant interior that does a lot to live up to the reputation required of it. Materials and build quality are top-notch, and the list of standard features is a long one. Large square vents define the class and dominate the dashboard, or at least they would, were it not for the enormous twin screens that serve as driver information and infotainment displays. There are numerous physical controls, though many features can be accessed from the steering wheel, making it easy for the driver to operate them without averting their eyes from the road.
As the largest model in the Mercedes lineup, the GLS has interior space for up to seven passengers. However, even big luxury SUVs can only cram in so many people before space becomes a problem. You may want to leave the third row folded down to get the most out of the area and not completely sacrifice cargo space.
Both the first and second rows have an abundance of head- and legroom, though Mercedes wisely does not publish figures for the final row. Reaching the back can also be tricky, but power fold-and-slide second-row seats help. Otherwise, getting inside is quite easy, and the power-adjustable front seats ensure a comfortable and confident driving position. The large blind spots are counteracted by driver-assistance tech.
Despite its size, the GLS-Class doesn’t actually have a lot of cargo space in its standard configuration. Nevertheless, the 17.4 cubic feet behind the rear-most seats is still more than the BMX X7 and Audi Q7 offer. But, folding down the third row frees up a more practical 48.7 cubes, and you can nearly double that to 84.7 cu-ft if you leave just the front seats in place. Meanwhile, the cabin provides ample nooks and crannies to store odds and ends. These include four capacious door pockets, an armrest cubby, a glovebox, and cupholders for each row of seats. The center console also has some bins that can hold a smartphone or wallet.
Materials and Colors
While the GLS may be the fanciest model Mercedes makes, it still comes with MB-Tex synthetic leather as standard in a choice of Black, Espresso Brown/Black, and Macchiato Beige/Black. For an extra $1,620 or when upgrading to the 580 4Matic, you get genuine leather in the same selection of interior colors. With yet a further investment of $1,370, you can have Black Nappa Exclusive leather.
Even more impressive than the range of upholstery colors is the seven different trims. These include Grey Linden, Natural Grain Grey Oak, Natural Grain Brown Walnut, Manufaktur Natural Grain Black Flamed Ash, and Manufaktur Brown Linden “Flowing Lines” for the wood trims and Aluminum with a longitudinal grain or metal weave.
Features and Infotainment
Very little doesn’t come as standard when you buy a GLS-Class, so you can expect amenities like quad-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, keyless-go, and remote start. Both the driver-information and infotainment screens measure 12.3 inches, with the latter offering Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, Bluetooth, navigation, and SiriusXM, all channeled through a 12-speaker Burmester surround sound system. You also get a wireless charger for your smart devices, along with a 115-volt power outlet.
Of course, this isn’t where things end, as you can still add massage front seats, heated second-row seats, five-zone climate control, in-car Wi-Fi, a head-up display, and a 26-speaker sound system. Of these, only five-zone climate control and the massaging front seats are standard upgrades for the 580 4Matic.
Neither model wants for power, but they aren’t high-performing beasts either, prioritizing comfort over rapid acceleration.
Powered by a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, the base Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class has access to 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, which is more than sufficient to get you where you’re going quickly. This setup gives you a 0-60 mph sprint time of 5.9 seconds. For a little more oomph, the 580 4Matic comes equipped with a 4.0L bi-turbo V8 that makes 483 hp and 516 lb-ft. While its performance is still nowhere near blistering, this version of the Merc GLS-Class goes from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. Both engines are mated to a 9G-tronic nine-speed automatic transmission, which sends outputs to an all-wheel drivetrain. Top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph, and the SUV boasts a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds.
Mercedes has always prided itself on delivering comfort over speed or handling, and for its largest cruiser, this is definitely the primary focus. Going fast in a straight line is a possibility, but bends are no friend to this massive car. Body roll is evident when you try to be playful, and it still remains firmly planted thanks to massive levels of grip, but it’s not something we recommend. If you opt for the V8-powered 580, you have a little more wiggle room to flirt with. But if fun is what you’re after, you’d be better off looking at the BMW X7. Where no competitor can beat the GLS, though, is pure, unadulterated comfort. The adaptive suspension eats bumps for breakfast, and you can raise the ground clearance to 8.5 inches in order to hop a curb if you feel like it.
If you want good gas mileage from your SUV, then you probably shouldn’t be looking at models with six- or eight-cylinder engines. The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class gets absolutely average mpg figures. The standard 450 4Matic manages 18/23/20 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles, while the more potent 580 4Matic, also with AWD, gets just 16/21/18 mpg.
oth models come with an impressive fuel capacity of 23.8 gallons, so even with their mediocre economy, they can travel between 428 and 476 miles between refueling stops.
The GLS gets some of the more advanced features found on Mercs as standard, including a surround-view camera, and parking assist.
It’s rare to see the upper echelons of the Mercedes lineup undergo crash testing, so in the case of the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, the lack of a safety review is not surprising. Luckily, the plush SUV comes with loads of standard safety features. These include seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction control, Pre safe, a surround-view camera, crosswind assist, active brake assist, attention assist, blind-spot monitoring, exit warning, and Partronic with active parking assist.
Quite a few extra safety systems can be added, including active steering assist, evasive steering assist, active lane-keep, Pre safe plus, active emergency stop assist, and even an extra two airbags for the second-row side positions.
US NHTSA Crash Test Result
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
JD Power awards the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class a relatively mediocre 75 out of 100 for reliability, and just 76 out of 100 for overall consumer satisfaction. A large part of this is probably due to the seven recalls issued against the model in 2022. Reasons included loss of steering control, seatback lock failure, an unsecured grown connection bolt, disabled emergency call systems, loss of drive power from fuel pump shutdown, and possible detachment of the rear door window trim bars. The final two issues carried over and affected some 2024 models.
Every new 2024 Merc GLS-Class is covered by a standard four-year/50,000-mile warranty, which includes bumper-to-bumper and powertrain issues, as well as roadside assistance.
The GLS range offers the largest Merc money can buy, so it has to be bold and eye-catching. It starts turning heads with its 20-inch alloy wheels and broad front fascia grille. Two horizontal bars run the length of the grille, bisected by the company logo. Astride this sits a pair of large LED headlights that include slim daytime running lights. The rear has LED taillights, too, connected by a thin strip of chrome. A rectangular exhaust outlet is integrated into each size side of the rear bumper. The tailgate is power-operated with hands-free access, and a panorama roof is installed as standard. If the standard styling is still too bland for you, the AMG Line with Night Package can spruce things up with parts borrowed from the performance model, along with blacked-out accents instead of chrome. You can also upgrade to 21- or 22-inch wheels.
Verdict: Is The 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class SUV A Good SUV?
When it comes to large, luxurious land cruisers, the 2024 GLS-Class is definitely one of the segment leaders in the USA. In typical Mercedes fashion, the vehicle is gorgeously appointed, with high-quality materials and all the amenities you could want. But unlike many premium models, it is also immensely practical, with space for up to seven passengers and a very liveable trunk. There is plenty of power to haul all these people and stuff, and the SUV can even tow up to 7,700 lbs, which isn’t bad at all. Sure, it’s not the most fun to drive, but it’s effortless and extremely safe with its bevy of driver-assistance tech. If you do want some more power, the 580 4Matic is an option, but it’s still not on par with rivals from BMW and Audi. If you value comfort and luxury over superfluous performance numbers, there aren’t many options better than the GLS for the same money.