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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class Review

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS finishes in the top half of our luxury large SUV rankings. There are few things this SUV doesn't do well. It offers powerful engine choices, a smooth ride, and a first-class interior.

Pros & Cons

  • Lavish cabin with supple seats
  • Composed handling and smooth ride
  • Good cargo capacity
  • Powerful engines
  • Steep infotainment learning curve

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class's #4 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Large SUVs category. Currently the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class has a score of 7.9 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 12 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.4
Performance: 8.7
Interior: 7.1
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLS a Good SUV?

Yes, the Mercedes-Benz GLS is a good SUV. It has a range of powerful engines and handles well for its size. It also gets good gas mileage and rides comfortably, even over rough pavement. Inside, you'll find one of the most well-appointed interiors in the class, three rows of spacious seats, and decent cargo capacity. It also has an incredible number of features, though the infotainment system takes a while to master.

Why You Can Trust Us: 12 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This 2021 GLS review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz GLS?

Every luxury large SUV shopper should give the GLS a look. It's a well-rounded option that's equipped for just about anything you want to do. It's expensive, but the same can be said about every SUV in the class, and most would argue that the GLS delivers plenty of value, even at its high price point.

2020 vs. 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS: What's the Difference?

The Mercedes-Benz GLS sees one big change for the 2021 model year: the introduction of the brand-new Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 and Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 models. The AMG model is a high-performance trim, while the Maybach displays a level of opulence heretofore unseen outside of the Bentley Bentayga.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 GLS »

Here are the key changes for the Mercedes-Benz GLS over the last few years:

  • 2017: all-new model (replaced GL)
  • 2018: no notable changes
  • 2019: no notable changes
  • 2020: fully redesigned with improved fuel economy, a revamped suspension system, and more standard and available features
  • 2021: Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 and Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 join lineup

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 GLS, 2019 GLS, and 2020 GLS reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz GLS Cost?

The Mercedes GLS 450 carries a base price of $76,000. That's more expensive than many class rivals, but it’s still far below the highest starting prices in the class. The AMG GLS 63 is the current range-topping model, and it starts at $132,100. That is one of the highest top-trim prices in the class.

We're still awaiting the pricing info for the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600, but you can bet that it'll be the most expensive model in the GLS lineup – and possibly in the entire luxury large SUV class – by a comfortable margin.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

Mercedes-Benz GLS Versus the Competition

Mercedes-Benz GLS vs. BMW X7

Like the GLS, the BMW X7 is a strong choice in the luxury large SUV class. These two German SUVs are similar in a lot of ways. Both have outstanding interiors, plenty of features, and ample room for passengers and cargo. The Mercedes has stronger engines and nimbler handling, and the X7 doesn't have a trim to compete with the new-for-2021 Maybach GLS 600.

Compare the GLS and X7 »

Mercedes-Benz GLS vs. Mercedes-Benz GLE

The Mercedes-Benz GLE is a luxury midsize SUV, so you can probably guess it isn’t quite as spacious as the GLS. Still, both can seat seven people, and the GLE is available with the same engine as the base GLS. The other big difference between these two is price. The GLE's starting price is lower than the GLS’ by around $20,000.

Compare the GLS and GLE »

Compare the GLS, X7, and GLE »

GLS Interior: Not Skimping on the Quality

GLS Cargo Space

This Mercedes provides as much or more cargo room than most of its classmates. It gives you 17.4 cubic feet of space with all of its seats up, between 42.7 and 48.7 cubic feet behind the second row (depending on how the seats are positioned), and a maximum of 84.7 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded down.

How Many People Does the GLS Seat?

Most GLS models are three-row SUVs that seat six or seven people, depending on whether you want second-row captain's chairs. The exception is the new Maybach model, which has two rows and seats four or five people.

One thing is for sure: Any seat is a good one. There’s enough space for adult passengers in every row, though the third row has a little less head- and legroom than the first two. It's easy to get in and out of any row, and the seats are plush and supportive.

GLS and Child Car Seats

This Mercedes-Benz has four complete sets of LATCH connectors, two each for the second and third rows.

GLS Interior Quality

The GLS has a handsome cabin full of quality materials, including real wood trim. It certainly looks the part of a top-tier luxury SUV.

GLS Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The MBUX infotainment system works well enough, but it has a steep learning curve. In addition to touch controls, the system also features a touchpad controller and steering wheel touch controls, which can be a bit overwhelming at first.

Fortunately, standard connectivity features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay can make the system more user-friendly, and there's an intuitive voice command system that you activate by saying, "Hey Mercedes."

  • Standard infotainment features: a 12.3-inch touch screen, a touchpad controller, navigation, Bluetooth, eight USB ports, a 13-speaker Burmester audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, an in-car communication system, wireless device charging, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto
  • Available infotainment features: the MBUX interior assistant, a 7-inch MBUX tablet for the second row, a 26-speaker Burmester audio system, second-row wireless device charging, and a Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Additional standard features: a sunroof, quad-zone automatic climate control, remote start, and a parking damage detector (alerts you when your vehicle has been hit while parked)
  • Other available features: a panoramic sunroof and five-zone automatic climate control

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

GLS Performance: Powerful and Comfortable

GLS Engine

Each GLS model features a different engine. The base 450 comes with a 362-horserpower turbocharged inline six-cylinder. The 580 has a 483-horsepower twin-turbo V8. The AMG GLS 63 and Maybach GLS 600 feature twin-turbo V8s as well, and they put out 603 and 550 horsepower, respectively. All models come with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

None of these engines feels weak. Even the inline-six is lively, and the mild-hybrid EQ Boost system gives it a little extra jolt during acceleration. The V8-powered GLS models are more energetic, and the high-performance AMG model delivers sports car-worthy acceleration.

GLS Gas Mileage

Few rivals can match the GLS' fuel economy ratings. The GLS 450 gets 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The AMG GLS 63 gets significantly worse ratings of 14/18 mpg city/highway.

GLS Ride and Handling

This all-wheel-drive Mercedes handles well for such a large vehicle. It feels poised on winding roads and doesn't lean too much around curves. The ride is deliciously smooth, and it gets even better with the optional E-Active Body Control.

GLS Off-Road Performance

The GLS can hold its own when the pavement ends thanks to features like hill descent control and adjustable ride height. There's also an off-road package that comes with more features, like a two-speed transfer case, which further improves capability (whether you want to take such a high-end luxury SUV through sand and snow is another matter).

GLS Towing Capacity

A properly equipped GLS can tow up to 7,700 pounds.

Read more about performance »

GLS Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLS Reliable?

The 2021 GLS has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Mercedes-Benz GLS Warranty

Mercedes-Benz covers the GLS with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty.

Read more about reliability »

GLS Safety

GLS Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2021 GLS. This is common among high-end luxury vehicles.

GLS Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring
  • Crosswind assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Vehicle exit warning
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Pre-Safe (rolls up windows and tightens seat belts when sensors detect an impending forward collision)
  • Parallel and perpendicular park assist

Available advanced safety features:

  • Head-up display
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane change assist
  • Evasive steering assist
  • Front and rear cross traffic alert
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Pre-Safe Plus (like Pre-Safe, but for rearward collisions)

Read more about safety »

GLS Dimensions and Weight

The 2020 GLS is 17.1 to 17.3 feet long. It has a curb weight of 5,467 to 5,798 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2021 GLS in Alabama.

Which Mercedes-Benz GLS Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS comes in four trims: GLS 450, GLS 580, AMG GLS 63, and Maybach GLS 600.

Even the base GLS 450 comes incredibly well-equipped and will swaddle you in comfort, so many buyers won't feel the need to look beyond it. The GLS 580 does come with a few more features and a much stronger engine, but it also carries a hefty price increase.

Speaking of price increases, there's really not much reason to look to the outlandishly priced AMG (or the likely much more expensive Maybach model) unless you're looking for the absolute lap of luxury.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 450

The Mercedes GLS 450 carries a base price of $76,000. It comes with a turbocharged 362-horsepower inline-six engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. Standard features include a sunroof, quad-zone automatic climate control, remote start, synthetic leather upholstery, and heated and ventilated front seats. Also included is a parking damage detector, which can send notifications to your phone if your car is hit while parked.

The standard Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system comes with a 12.3-inch touch screen, a touchpad controller, navigation, Bluetooth, eight USB ports, a 13-speaker Burmester audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, an in-car communication system, wireless device charging, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, crosswind assist, blind spot monitoring, vehicle exit warning, a surround-view parking camera system, Mercedes' Pre-Safe, and parallel and perpendicular park assist.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 580

The GLS 580 sports a starting price of $98,800. It features a 483-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine. In addition to the 450's standard features, the 580 adds genuine leather upholstery, massaging front seats, and five-zone automatic climate control.

Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

The AMG GLS 63 starts at $132,100. This model boasts a 603-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine and adds performance features such as a limited-slip rear differential, an upgraded adaptive air suspension, roll stabilization, high-performance brakes, and a performance exhaust.

This AMG also has more standard features, including a panoramic sunroof, heated second-row seats, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane change assist, Pre-Safe Plus, and a parking damage detector.

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 is an all-new trim for 2021. It's a two-row SUV that seats four or five people, depending on configuration, and it's designed to represent the pinnacle of luxury. Mercedes considers the Maybach's chief rival to be the Bentley Bentayga.

The GLS 600 comes with a 550-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine. From a tech standpoint, the Maybach includes the standard features of lower GLS trims and adds a panoramic sunroof, massaging seats in both rows, heated armrests, heated and cooled cup holders, a 7-inch rear-seat MBUX tablet, a 26-speaker Burmester audio system, and wireless device charging in both rows.

Basically, the only thing that doesn't come standard in the Maybach is a refrigerated console, and even that's an optional feature. The Maybach will join the lineup later in the model year, and pricing has not yet been announced. (Spoiler alert: It will be astronomical).

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

See 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS is once again a top choice in the luxury large SUV class. It's an all-around winner, with plenty of power, a smooth ride, and a world-class interior. Every seat is a good one, and there's plenty of space for your stuff. In short, no matter what you're looking for in a new SUV, the GLS probably delivers it.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS is often called 'the S-Class of SUVs.' By that, it means this 3-row hauler has the highly refined and hushed driving manners of Mercedes-Benz’s flagship executive sedan and all the practicality and capability you’d want from an SUV." -- Autotrader
  • "Overall, though, I would gladly have one of these beasts in the driveway, were I in the demographic for it. Mercedes lists competitors as the BMW X7, Lexus LX570, Cadillac Escalade and Infiniti QX80. Given that list, and assuming I had the cash, I would take this all-new Mercedes." -- Autoweek (2020)
  • "It features promising and innovative powertrain options, it looks pretty darn good for a big ol' box and benefits from a wave of new cabin and safety technology that I've enjoyed in other modern Mercedes-Benz vehicles." -- CNET (2020)
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