It's apparent on first blush that the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class exudes a certain sophisticated class. It emanates from the upright profile, richly endowed interior, and a trio of available powertrains that deliver power with the smoothness of Kenny G's saxophone. If the Cadillac Escalade is too gaudy and the Lexus LX 570's spindle grille is too alarming, the GLS-Class provides the Goldilocks combination of elegance and conservatism that buyers of discerning taste will no doubt appreciate.
What's New for 2019
For 2019, the only Mercedes SUV with three rows continues mostly unchanged. The only notable update is a new Grand Edition package, which brings distinctive interior appointments and exterior badging. It's available in either GLS 450 or GLS 550 guise.
Choosing Your Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
All GLS models deliver lumbering luxury in spades. But the speed at which each is whisked away differs significantly depending on which powertrain is shoehorned under the hood. The most tame of these is the GLS 450, which comes with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that makes a stout 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission routs power to all four wheels. The zero-to-60 mph run is a claimed 6.5 seconds, which is better than one might expect for a 5,400-pound SUV. Even though the GLS doesn't use body-on-frame construction like many of its competitors, its towing capacity of 7,500 pounds puts it in the same playpen as other heavy haulers of this caliber. When unladen, gas mileage stands at an EPA-estimated 16 miles per gallon city, 22 mpg highway, and 18 combined.
While the 362 hp V6 isn't lacking for power, buyers with a more leaden right foot will want to look at the GLS 550. It utilizes a 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 that makes 449 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. It's enough power to drop the zero-to-60 time to just 5.2 seconds; gas mileage also drops proportionally, garnering an EPA rating of 14/19/16 mpg (city/highway/combined). Like the 450, the 550 uses a nine-speed automatic.
The AMG GLS 63 is, simply put, glorious overkill. Power comes by way of a handcrafted 5.5-liter twin-turbo engine; power is a prodigious 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. Driving all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic, this powertrain is potent enough to bang off 4.5-second zero-to-60 runs. Gas mileage is decidedly worse than the 550 model; don't expect better than 13/18/15 mpg.
Besides boasting seating for seven passengers, other standard GLS features include an air suspension, multiple transmission modes, and start/stop technology. On the safety front, there's automatic emergency braking, an SOS emergency call function, and a driver condition monitor, all standard. Notable optional features across the lineup include a $3,700 active curve system, a $250 heated steering wheel, and a $5,800 Bang and Olufsen sound system.
A $2,250 Driver Assistance Package is available that bundles active distance and steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, and traffic sign recognition. There's also a $2,850 Off-road Package that includes special off-road drive modes and front skid plates. New for 2019 is the $6,000 Grand Edition Package, which includes brown leather upholstery, 20-inch wheels, leather dash trim, Linden wood trim, active LED headlights, high-beam assist, and the requisite "Grand Edition" badging.
Of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class lineup, we'd stick with the base GLS 450 model. While it doesn't have the exclusivity of the more highfalutin models, the V6's 362 horsepower is more than enough for scooting the hefty GLS without effort. We'd be sure to add the Driver Assistance and Premium Packages to ensure we were getting the full luxury experience from our full-size SUV.
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