Mercedes GLS Review & Prices
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
Find out more about the Mercedes GLS
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 it’s essentially the Mercedes S-Class of SUVs.
It’s a bit like a Gucci handbag compared with a Gucci purse; both are very posh and very expensive, but one is a bit bigger and more practical than the other.
But just how gigantic is it? Well, the GLS is longer than a BMW X7 (though it’s about the same as a 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 grille between LED headlights and above large air intakes.
At the side are huge alloy wheel options up to 23 inches, box wheel arches and illuminated running boards, while at the back, you’ll find a roof spoiler at the top, LED rear lights and gaping exhaust openings.
Mercedes has revealed some minor updates for the GLS for 2023. It has an even bigger grille, larger air intakes in the front bumper and new rear lights. Inside there’s a new steering wheel, the latest infotainment software and some new upholstery colours.
Group test: Mercedes GLS v Tesla Model X v BMW X7
These subtle updates don't change the fact that 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, and the introduction of the latest version will only cement its place atop the podium. It’s also one of the coolest-looking setups around, with two huge screens that merge together to form one wide wraparound display through which you control everything from the climate control to the built-in sat-nav.
There are no issues with interior space, though. 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, whichever configuration you have it in; even with all seven seats in place, there’s more space than a Mercedes A-Class, and in five-seat mode it has more than an X7 or Range Rover.
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
You can choose between a petrol or a diesel engine with the standard GLS, while the high-end Mercedes-Maybach and AMG versions feature high-powered petrol engines.
Regardless, both engines offer punchy power that comes in handy for sprinting down motorway slip roads 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 is a 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. You can also browse the latest used GLS models or see what other used Mercedes are for sale. Need to sell your current car first? You can do that through carwow, too.
The Mercedes GLS has a RRP range of £108,070 to £181,755. Prices start at £108,070 if paying cash. The price of a used Mercedes GLS on carwow starts at £62,900.
Our most popular versions of the Mercedes GLS are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|GLS 450d 4Matic AMG Line Premium + 5dr 9G-Tronic||£108,070||Compare offers|
|Maybach GLS 600 4Matic First Class 5dr 9G-Tronic||£177,745||Compare offers|
|GLS 450d 4Matic Business Class 5dr 9G-Tronic||£118,070||Compare offers|
When a car is referred to as the ‘S-Class of SUVs’ you know it ain’t gonna be cheap, and that’s certainly true of the Mercedes GLS. Pricing for the outgoing model is between about £90,000 and £100,000 for the regular model, but if you go for the truly opulent Maybach version, you’re looking at £170,000-plus.
Ignoring that car, the GLS is actually fairly well priced against the BMW X7, which ranges from around £70,000 to £110,00. However, the Range Rover is more likely to give the Maybach a run for its money. The big, posh English SUV starts at just over £100,000, but can be specified for close to £200,000 for the long-wheelbase, high-performance SV.
Mercedes hasn’t released pricing for the 2023 update just yet, but you can expect a small price hike over the current car to account for the new bits.
The Mercedes GLS is impressively comfortable on the motorway, but a BMW X7 is more fun in corners
Comfort is one of the GLS’s key selling points so we’re pleased to report that it is indeed a comfy beast. But beast is the operative word, because it feels very big on the road. An X7 shrinks around you a bit more.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because it just feels very solidly built and you get a good sense of security as you amble through traffic. The steering is pretty light and the expanse of cameras help make it easier to drive in town than you might think.
On the motorway
Out on the motorway the GLS is much happier, though. Here, its size is less of an issue and you can sit back, relax and enjoy the drive. This is where it feels closest to the luxury smoothness of an S-Class. It might just be the comfiest SUV you can buy…
It’s not perfect, though. Sometimes when you go over rough roads or some undulations it feels like it rocks from side to side like an old-school off-roader before settling down. There are no bumps and crashes though, and it’s incredibly refined, being very quiet inside (even when we took it off-road).
On a twisty road
The GLS is no sports car, and while the BMW X7 handles a bit better, the Mercedes certainly doesn’t embarrass itself. With clever air suspension fitted as standard, the GLS doesn’t lean too much in corners so it has a hint of sportiness to encourage you to have fun.
Its limits are pretty low, though, so don’t get too carried away. Particularly if you’re carrying six passengers who might find car sickness accelerated with some hard cornering.
The Mercedes GLS is incredibly spacious inside and has a big boot, but the rear seat cushions are pretty firm
Unsurprisingly, given the fact that this is a bloomin’ massive SUV, there’s loads of space for those sitting in the front. For the driver, there’s plenty of adjustability in the steering wheel and seat so it’s easy to get a good driving position.
You will also find a good-sized cubby hole in the centre console, a space in the lower centre console and a hidden tray beneath the big screens. The door bins are a good size too.
Space in the back seats
People in the back should be happy as well, because the GLS has a cavernous second row with loads of headroom and legroom. You even get electric adjustment to move the seat and can carry three abreast without having to get too cosy. The seat cushions are a bit firm, though.
Usually this would be the bit where we say the third row of seats in a seven-seater are only made for young children – or adults you’re not fond of – but actually you can even transport tall people here without too much issue.
With seven seats in place there’s 355 litres, which is about what you’d get in a small hatchback. In five-seat mode you get 890 litres and with the second row folded down you get a massive 1,470 litres.
That’s a good chunk better than the Range Rover, which only has 229 litres in the long wheelbase seven-seat version, or 725 litres in five-seat mode. A BMW X7 is closer to the Mercedes at 326 litres in seven-seat mode, but its five-seat capacity lags behind at 750 litres.
The Mercedes GLS interior is high-tech and looks fantastic, but there are cheap materials to be found
Mercedes has got the look of its interiors well and truly sorted, so it’s no surprise to see that the GLS has a stylish cabin with two large screens dominating the dashboard. It manages to squeeze in lots of funky details, like the square air vents and illuminated grab handles, without looking too fussy.
Those screens are both 12.3 inches and have the excellent MBUX software, which can be controlled by touchscreen, touchpad or voice. One particularly neat feature is the augmented sat nav, which shows a display of the road ahead with superimposed arrows so you know exactly where to go.
Although there are plenty of high-quality materials to be found, one disappointing aspect is that there are some scratchy plastics lower down in the cabin. We also found some of the switches quite cheap and flimsy, which you don’t expect from such a posh car.
If you opt for the Rear Seat Comfort package you get a tablet that gives rear seat passengers control of the infotainment and comfort settings, while the Entertainment package adds a couple more screens that can play music or movies as well as letting you surf the web.
A few engines are available on the Mercedes GLS, though for most buyers the 450d diesel will likely be the most sensible pick. This is mainly because it's by far the most economical engine option: Mercedes claims the 450d can return up to 32mpg, whereas the 450 petrol is capable of just 28mpg in comparison.
Go for one of the GLS' other engine options, and fuel economy falls even further. It'll be of no surprise to hear the twin-turbo V8-powered GLS AMG is capable of an official fuel economy figure of 21mpg, and Mercedes reckons buyers of the GLS Maybach model will be able to extract 20mpg from their car's super-smooth V8 petrol engine.
Regardless of the GLS you end up buying, it'll be an expensive car to tax. High CO2 emissions across the board means you'll face a £2,220 first-year tax bill for a diesel or entry-level petrol GLS; the rest of the range will cost £2,605. Because it's an expensive car, all GLS models will cost £570 per year to tax for the following five years.
Being a tech leader, the GLS has a huge list of safety kit and driver assistance systems. These include the typical parking aids (front and rear sensors with 360-degree cameras) and stability control, but you also have crosswind assist to stop the big SUV get blown out of its lane, adaptive cruise control to maintain your distance to the car in front in traffic, and a steering assistant to help you avoid obstacles.
The Mercedes GLS has not been safety tested by Euro NCAP, but the slightly smaller GLE was given the full five stars around the same time the GLS was launched. It scored 90% and 91% in the child and adult occupant sections respectively, which is impressive. Given the GLS’s similar structure and extensive assistance kit, it would be reasonable to assume it would score similarly highly.
There have been no major recurring issues with the GLS specifically, but Mercedes doesn’t have a great reputation for reliability and this is a very complex car, so there is a risk that you could face some problems.
Fortunately, the German firm offers a three-year unlimited mileage warranty on its cars that will give some peace of mind when buying new. You can also buy an extended warranty of 12 months, 24 months, or a one-month rolling contract.