The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class may have traded the old GL badge for one with a shiny new S tacked onto the end, but it's still the boxy and handsome SUV from before. Offering an incredibly spacious cabin and excellent inclement weather capability, the GLS-Class still has its spot in the market. Oh yeah, with an available AMG GLS 63 variant, the GLS-Class also has staggering performance.

Best Value

As much as we love having the option to spec a large, old-school SUV with a proper V8 engine, the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 in the GLS 450 is more than enough for daily use. And, the $25,000 upcharge for an eight-cylinder engine is also a large sum that's easily avoidable. Plus, it's not like you're getting into a stripped-out model, as the entry-level GLS 450 is nicely equipped.

The GLS 450 is powered by a 362-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 and comes with keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and auto-dimming exterior mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a seven-inch screen, and 19-inch wheels as standard. Here's how we'd spec a GLS 450:

  • Model: 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 4MATIC SUV
  • Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6
  • Output:362 hp / 369 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
  • MPG:16 City / 22 Hwy
  • Options: Premium Package ($3,830, multicolor ambient lighting, illuminated front door sills, blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, keyless-go, a power front passenger seat with memory, navigation, satellite radio, voice control, an in-dash DVD/CD player, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility), Driver Assistance Package ($2,250, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, Pre-Safe Plus, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition with speed limit assist), Parking Assistance Package ($1,290, active parking assist, surround-view camera system), heated steering wheel ($250), leather seats ($1,620), heated second-row seats ($620), three-zone automatic climate control ($1,450), power easy-entry feature for second-row seats ($400), ventilated front seats ($570)
  • Base Price:$71,145 (including the $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$83,425

Performance

Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

The GLS-Class may be a massive, luxury SUV, but the amount of performance the vehicle provides is impressive. While the base twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6’s output of 362 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque is nothing to sneer at, the V8 engines are especially noteworthy. The first step above the V6 is a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 that produces 449 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The real jewel of the family, though, is the AMG GLS 63 that features a handcrafted-5.5-liter twin-turbo V8. The sledgehammer of an engine produces 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. Despite the SUV’s size, the AMG variant can get to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, besting some sports cars on the market.

While the GLS-Class engines are smooth operators, the way the SUV handles and hides its stature is stunning. A standard air suspension system means that you’re rarely feeling bumps, while the all-wheel-drive system can not only get you through inclement weather, but over some rough terrain, too. Around corners, the GLS-Class’ ability to feel like a smaller vehicle is also remarkable, as the available Active Curve System works to keep body lean to a minimum.

The nine-speed automatic transmission on lower trims can feel busy at times, hunting for the right gear, especially when driving on the highway. Another downside, and this is the major one for the GLS-Class, is terrible fuel economy. The best the GLS manages to get is an EPA-estimated 16 miles per gallon city, 22 mpg highway, and 18 combined, which is bad, even for the segment.

Style

Did we say that the GLS-Class is boxy? Because that’s one of the defining characteristics of the large SUV. While it’s not exactly as brick-like as the iconic G-Class, the GLS-Class still doesn’t have many curves. The SUV’s classically-styled exterior may not have the same in-your-face design as more modern options, but it’s still handsome.

Because of the GLS-Class’ expansive size, there’s an abundant amount of interior space. The third row is especially notable, being able to seat full-size adults in comfort. If you’re more concerned with cargo capacity, the GLS-Class doesn’t disappoint on that front either, as it can hold up to 90 cubic feet of cargo.

The only knock for the SUV’s interior is the COMAND system, which is outdated. While the 8.4-inch screen is well-sized, the controls are unintuitive and the inability to handle controls through a touchscreen makes the system more frustrating. While the materials and touches are high end, living up to the Mercedes name, the GLS-Class’ infotainment screen is old and cumbersome.

The Best and Worst Things

There’s not a lot to dislike with the GLS-Class, it’s luxurious, powerful, spacious, and comfortable. The SUV’s also surprisingly athletic. The only thing we’re really left wanting for is a new infotainment system.

Right For? Wrong For?

Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

If German build quality and craftsmanship are what you’re after in a seven-passenger SUV, the GLS-Class is a safe bet. It may have a large price tag, but it’s one of the few vehicles that show you exactly where your hard-earned money is going.

While the Mercedes badge carries a lot of weight with it, there are numerous options that aren’t as expensive or as luxurious that are worth a look. The Ford Expedition is a strong choice that costs a lot less and, arguably of course, offers you with the exact some level of versatility and usability. If off-roading is what you’re after, the Range Rover Sport is attractive and is even available with a diesel engine.

The Bottom Line

Besides its infotainment system and abysmal fuel economy, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class combines luxury and usability in an attractive package. It’s a great combination that’s hard to beat in the world of upscale SUVs.