2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS proves bigger is better

What is it?

Mercedes-Benx calls it the “S-Class of SUVs,” which means it’s imposing and luxurious in equal measure.

Why does it matter?

Well, Mercedes does have a reputation to uphold as the ne plus ultra of German automotive luxury, so the all-new 2020 is larger — as in 77 millimetres longer and 22 millimetres wider — than the already gargantuan sport-brute it replaces. Along with all that room comes extravagance, as in all three rows of seating are electrically adjustable, the last able to fold into the floor as well.

The other interior highlight is Stuttgart’s new MBUX infotainment system which, confounding all previous Mercedes systems, is actually quite easy to use (look for an upcoming Driving.ca video test of this latest technology in one of Mercedes less opulent models), Not only does MBUX offer the most powerful digital “assistant” ever in an automobile, but in the GLS — it being, again, the “S-Class of SUVs” — there are two MBUX-enabled 11.6-inch touchscreens in the rear.

The GLS’ upgrade also sees the introduction of an electrified V8 in Mercedes’ powertrain portfolio. The GLS 580 4MATIC marries a gas-fed V8 with a 48 volts of intagrated starter-generators. The gas engine contributes 483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque to motivating the GLS, while the mild hybridizations kicks in an extra 21 horsepower and as much as 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Meanwhile, the GLS 450 4MATIC version uses an inline six-cylinder engine with similar 48-volt technology, its 362 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque supplemented by the same 21-horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of torque of EQ Boost.

All GLS SUVs will be equipped with Mercedes’ familiar 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, but new this year, says Mercedes, is an even more capable all-wheel-drive system specifically configured for off-roading. In addition to its multi-plate clutch/ torque-on-demand abilities, it also features a “low” gear for serious off-road.

Seeing as it’s a top-of-the-line Merc — you do remember it being “the S-Class of SUVs,” right? — the GLS is so chock-a-block with electronic safety gizmos that it’d take the whole internet to list them all. Suffice it to say, if it’s been invented, Mercedes has installed it on the GLS. One that does stand out is something called Carwash. Activate this function and the suspension moves to its highest position, which due to the axle geometry, reduces the track widths and makes it easier to drive into the carwash bay. Those crazy Germans, they think of everything!

When is it coming?

Canadian pricing and availability haven’t been announced just yet.

Should you buy it?

God, I don’t know. Do you need the S-Class of SUVs? If so, Mercedes-Benz makes just the car for you. And before you start scoffing at such a thing, take a look at Range Rover sales lately — the market for upper-end SUVs seems almost limitless. I suspect Mercedes will find a goodly number of customer for its — all together now — S-Class of SUVs.

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