Mercedes GLS review
The Mercedes GLS is the largest SUV Mercedes makes. It’ll seat seven people with ease and is crammed full of the latest tech, but its interior quality is mixed.
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With more and more people driving around in high-riding 4x4s, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to look down one’s nose at the general public from the back of large luxury saloons. The Mercedes GLS solves this first-world problem – it’s gigantic in every way, and its maker is calling it the Mercedes S-Class of SUVs. Prepare your noses.
But just how gigantic is it? Well, the GLS is longer than it’s ever been, and more importantly, longer than a BMW X7 or full-size Range Rover. You also won’t mistake it for either of those, because it has a Mercedes badge the size of a dinner plate on its chrome grille between LED headlights and above large air intakes. At the side are huge alloy wheel options up to 23-inches, box wheelarches and illuminated running boards, while at the back, you’ll find a roof spoiler at the top, LED rear lights and some gaping exhaust openings.
Like Mercedes’ smaller GLE, the GLS has a more visually engaging design inside than a BMW X7, Audi Q7 or Range Rover. For starters, it has a huge one-piece screen for the instruments and infotainment flanked by two massive air vents. Below that sit four further squared vents set into wood or metal trim. It’s not all good news, though – some of the car’s switches feel too flimsy for a car at this price level and there are some cheaper-feeling plastics at the bottom of the dashboard and doors.
Still, Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system is one of the best on sale. It’s also one of the coolest-looking infotainment systems around, with two huge screens merge together to form one wide wraparound display through which you control everything from the climate control to the built-in sat-nav. Bluetooth, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all thrown in too. But, despite its flashy looks, Merc’s MBUX still isn’t quite as easy to follow menu-wise as an X7’s iDrive.
Mercedes calls the GLS the 'S-Class of SUVs' and it's comfy and quiet enough to live up to that billing. It's just a shame it doesn't feel as high quality inside in places
However, there are no issues with interior space. The Mercedes GLS is a proper seven-seater, meaning two adults will be comfortable in all three rows, and even three sat side-by-side in the middle row won’t complain. The GLS’s boot is massive, too, offering more space than a Mercedes A-Class even with all its seats in place, and more than an X7 or Range Rover in five-seat mode.
At least to begin with, there’ll be just one engine option – a 330hp 3.0-litre 400d diesel. As diesel engines go it’s superb: it’s smooth and quiet, even when revved hard, and flooring the accelerator brings a wave of grunt from low revs to give the GLS a surprising turn of speed for such a huge car.
That’ll come in handy for sprinting down motorway sliproads to join traffic, and once the GLS is at a cruise it proves extremely quiet and comfortable – even more so than an X7. It also has a relaxing semi-autonomous drive system that’ll accelerate, brake and steer to keep you in your lane. On country roads, the X7 alternative feels like the more agile SUV, but there isn’t much in it and nobody is buying these cars for the way they go around corners. No, you’ll be more likely to see the GLS creeping around town, where its light steering, standard 360-degree cameras and parking aids make it easier to manoeuvre than you might think.
So, the Mercedes GLS is the S-Class of SUVs in terms of its size, technology and wonderfully comfortable driving experience, if not quite its interior quality. Even so, if you’re convinced, make sure you check out our Mercedes GLS deals for the best prices.