Packed with features. Three-row luxury barges like the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class are all about one thing – being opulent for passengers in all three rows. Last year’s complete redesign upped the ante with an exquisite interior and some of the finest materials in the segment. Not to mention a bucketload of standard features that help soften the blow of the GLS' high starting price tag.

You’ll find one of the longest lists of standard features in the segment in the GLS. Things like four-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a sliding sunroof, and a power liftgate are standard. One drawback is that it comes standard with synthetic leather upholstery, one would expect to see real leather upholstery on a high-end SUV.

Of course, Mercedes offers a dizzying number of available options on the GLS, including massaging front seats, Nappa leather upholstery, soft-close doors, five-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled front cupholders, and three rows of heated seats.

Incredibly comfortable. In addition to a modern design, the GLS features incredibly spacious seats. With 34.6 inches of third-row leg room, adults can even fit comfortably in the third row, which isn’t the case. Of course, passengers in the other seats are treated to copious amounts of both head and leg room.

It’s not just the interior that helps coddle passengers, the GLS comes with air suspension as standard to help soak up any imperfections on the road. An adaptive damping system is also standard that allows it to automatically choose between one of four available damping profiles for extra comfort. Even on massive 20-inch wheels, the GLS’ suspension does wonders to give it a sublime ride.

Cargo capacity is good for the class, too, as the GLS offers a total of 84.7 cubic feet of space with the two rear rows folded.


Mercedes GLS-Class

All sorts of grunt. New for 2021 is the introduction of the high-performance AMG GLS 63 model. The new variant brings the number of available powertrains offered with the GLS up to three, giving you multiple options for what kind of performance you want.

The standard powertrain in the GLS 450 includes a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine with a mild-hybrid system for a total of 362 horsepower. Extra grunt comes in the form of the GLS 580. That trim comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 483 hp. The new AMG GLS 63 comes with the same engine, but it’s been updated to make 603 hp.

In addition to coming with the most powerful engine in the lineup, the AMG GLS 63 comes with a variety of AMG components, including an exhaust system, brakes, a unique active ride control system, all-wheel-drive system, electronic limited-slip rear differential, and nine-speed automatic transmission. With the AMG GLS 63, it can get from 0-60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, matching some sports cars.

For a heavy vehicle, the GLS’s powertrains provide plenty of grunt. The only downside is fuel economy. The GLS 450 is the most fuel-efficient trim in the lineup, and it's EPA rated to get 21 miles per gallon combined. The ultra-powerful AMG GLS 63 gets 16 mpg combined. Both require premium fuel.

Tasteful styling. Three-row luxury SUVs are meant to do one thing: showcase just how lavish and expensive they are. While the GLS still does this, it does so without being overly flashy. Compared to other competitors, its design is almost subtle. The grille isn’t overly large, the headlights are elegantly styled, there’s a modest amount of chrome, and the rear end features an understated design.

Things are far more modern and high-tech on the inside. Borrowing similar interior design elements as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the GLS looks and feels like a modern three-row SUV. It all starts with the 12.3-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that spans nearly the entire width of the dashboard.

Other little details, like the four-pronged steering wheel, rectangular air vents, and integrated handles in the transmission tunnel, really help the GLS look like a premium luxury vehicle.

Final thoughts. We didn’t think the old Mercedes GLS-Class needed to be more luxurious, but the automaker certainly continues to raise the bar. If you can afford a 2021 Mercedes GLS, there are very few reasons not to get one.

As with any other modern Mercedes, choosing a few options can see the GLS’ price tag soar to dizzying figures. Keeping it simple will still net you an incredibly luxurious and capable machine. Beyond a few quibbles about how heavy and thirsty it is, we don’t have a lot to complain about.

The BMW X7 is more of an athlete – well, as athletic as a three-row SUV can be – but has a more polarizing design, a less powerful standard engine, and the interior isn’t as spacious. The Cadillac Escalade is an icon in the segment. It's equipped with a standard V8 engine and boasts even more technology, but doesn’t have the same luscious ride.

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