More Spade, More Comfort, More Luxury Than Ever Before
Luxury vehicles come in all shapes and sizes these days, but more and more they come in the form of a sport utility vehicle. Mercedes-Benz alone has nine to choose from. And while the GLS isn’t the most expensive, it is the biggest; so let’s see what the latest GLS has to offer.
Mercedes-Benz considers their S-Class sedan to be the finest automobile in the world. So, it’s to be expected the SUV that’s based on it would be pretty special as well. And indeed, the theme of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS is more; more space, more comfort, more luxury, and more refinement than ever before.
As to space, this rugged-looking 3rd–generation GLS, doesn’t occupy a whole lot more of it than before, but there are 2.4-inches of additional wheelbase, providing more interior room to roam at all seats.
Comfort up front has been refined to the extreme; all-3 rows of seats really; with adult space even in the 3rd row. Though just 2-seats in back means it’s set up for 7-passengers; 6 if you opt for 2nd row captain’s chairs.
Cargo space behind the 3rd row grows as well; now 17.4 cubic-ft., expanding to 48.7 behind the 2nd row, and maxing out at 84.7 with all seats folded. Seats fold with a push of a button, and you can even lower the rear sill when loading bulky items.
Mercedes-Benz recently announced they were getting out of the V8 engine business; and while nothing sounds like a V8, the turbo-6 in this GLS 450 sure does feel like one, and is rated to tow 7,700-lbs.
It’s an inline-6 that cranks out 362-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque; plus gets an EQ Boost from an integrated starter/generator that can add another 21-horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque on top of that.
Transmission is a 9-speed automatic, and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive is standard. That AWD, mixed with a hearty helping of low-end torque, made for a speedy track send off. The GLS 450 bites down hard and leaps to 60 in just 5.3-seconds.
If that’s not quick enough for you, there is still a 4.0-liter turbo V8 available in regular, AMG, and even Maybach specific tunings.
Automatic shifts are plenty quick, with a subtle surge of power accompanying each one. The ¼-mile passes by in a quick 13.9-seconds at 99 miles-per-hour, with a nice smooth 6-cylinder melody your soundtrack. It feels plenty stable as it approaches triple digits, and would certainly be at home during extended high-speed Autobahn or state side interstate travels.
And it feels equally capable in twists and turns. Our tester’s winter tires did give things a squishy feel through our slalom course, but there was very little body roll and no excessive understeer or oversteer; making the GLS drive much smaller than it is. Refined braking performance too with a solid feeling pedal, great stability, and tidy stops of just 118-feet from 60. Not much more you can ask for here.
Competent handling and speedy acceleration certainly endear a vehicle to us, but how well a luxury vehicle pampers its occupants is the most important thing to well-heeled buyers.
Tech is as comprehensive as you’d expect in a top-shelf Mercedes-Benz, and they have a way of incorporating everything in a more beautiful fashion. than most. Though the sheer number of comfort and luxury features here keeps it from being the most user friendly. Just remember, you can always speak everything into existence with a little “Hey Mercedes.”
MB-Tex upholstery is standard, with a host of fine leathers and real wood accents available.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 20-City, 24-Highway, and 21–Combined. We averaged 20.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium. For a just below average Energy Impact Score of 15.7–barrels of annual oil consumption with 6.8-tons of CO2 emissions.
It’s hard to see a $77,050 base price as a bargain, but for the sheer amount of luxury you get here, it certainly seems more than reasonable. So, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 4MATIC does indeed offer more of everything. And despite the immense amount of competition it faces, the overall behind the wheel experience of the GLS really does stand out as something special among its peers. It’s not quite an S-class sedan, but it is the closest you can get if you want to make a utility vehicle your next luxury ride.
Torque: 369 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.9 seconds at 99 mph
EPA: 20 City / 24 Highway / 21 Combined