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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class Review

The redesigned 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS ranks in the top third of the luxury large SUV class. It blasts past the competition when it comes to performance, but its complicated infotainment system controls hold it back.

Pros & Cons

  • Strong engine choices
  • Well-balanced ride and handling
  • Lavish, roomy cabin
  • Infotainment controls take time to master

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class's #3 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Large SUVs category. Currently the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 10 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 8.7
Interior: 6.9
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of N/A for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 3.5 for reliability is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLS a Good SUV?

The Mercedes-Benz GLS is a great luxury large SUV. Its roomy cabin is adorned with premium materials, and it has two energetic engine options. Its praiseworthy handling is a blend of comfort and agility. However, its infotainment system can take some time to master.

At the time of writing, no information is available about potential performance-oriented AMG variants of the GLS.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz GLS?

The 2020 GLS is an appealing three-row luxury SUV that deserves a spot on your short list, but some of its rivals are worth considering too. The Lincoln Navigator is a class leader largely because of its spacious, lavish cabin and cavernous cargo hold.

If you’re looking at Mercedes SUVs, you might also consider the G-Class. It’s an adept and refined off-roader with muscular engines, especially in its AMG variant, but it may not be as suitable for daily driving. It’s much more expensive than the GLS, it gets worse fuel economy estimates, and it only has two rows of seats.

Compare the GLS, Navigator, and G-Class »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mercedes-Benz GLS?

If you can swing it, buy a new GLS. Mercedes redesigned the GLS for the 2020 model year, bringing improved fuel economy (19/23 mpg versus 16/22 mpg), a revamped suspension system, and more standard and available features, such as a 12.3-inch customizable digital instrument display and second-row captain’s chairs.

If the price of a new GLS is a bit out of your range, look to a previous-generation GLS. It’s still a great vehicle and likely much less expensive. Aim for a 2017 GLS, as it’s nearly identical to the 2018 and 2019 models.

Models older than 2017 were called GL-Class and were the predecessor to the GLS. These models lack some of the features and styling of the 2017 to 2019 GLS SUVs, but if you stick with a 2013 or newer model, it’s largely the same vehicle.

If you’re considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 GLS, 2018 GLS, and 2019 GLS reviews to help make your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 GLS »

We Did the Research for You: 10 Reviews Analyzed

To make our car rankings and reviews as consumer-oriented as possible, we do not rely on our personal opinions. Instead, we analyze hard data such as cargo space dimensions, horsepower specs, and reliability ratings, as well as the opinions of the automotive press.

Why You Can Trust Us                            

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. We care about cars, but we care more about providing useful consumer advice. To ensure our impartiality, an independent party handles our advertising, and our editorial team doesn’t accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz GLS Cost?

The 2020 GLS 450 has a starting MSRP of $75,200. Pricing for the GLS 580 starts at $97,800. Those are typical prices for a luxury large SUV.

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

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz GLS or BMW X7?

The BMW X7 is another good luxury large SUV, with a high-class interior and a standard features list that is comparable to the GLS’. The BMW has more total cargo space, but the Mercedes has more room behind its third-row seats. The Mercedes gets the edge because of its stronger engines and nimbler handling.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz GLS or Mercedes-Benz GLE?

Like its larger sibling, the Mercedes-Benz GLE was redesigned for 2020. It’s a luxury midsize SUV, so it lacks the cargo space of the GLS. However, it can match the GLS’ capacity to seat seven people, and the GLE is available with the same engine as the base GLS. The major difference between these two is price. The GLE has a lower starting price than the GLS by roughly $21,500. When equipped with the same engine and similar features, the GLE costs about $14,000 less.

Compare the GLS, X7, and GLE »

GLS Interior

How Many People Does the GLS Seat?

You can seat six or seven people in this Mercedes, depending on whether you choose captain’s chairs or a bench seat for the second row. Heated and power-adjustable front seats are standard, as is synthetic leather upholstery. Upgrades include ventilated and massaging first- and second-row seats, heated second- and third-row seats, heated first- and second-row armrests, heated and ventilated first- and second-row cup holders, and a heated steering wheel.

The seats are comfortable, and there’s ample head- and legroom in the first two rows. Most adults will be fine in the third row for shorter trips.

GLS and Child Car Seats

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

GLS Interior Quality

The GLS has an opulent cabin full of lavish materials, and it has excellent fit and finish.

GLS Cargo Space

The GLS has 17.4 cubic feet of space behind the third row. That’s decent for a three-row luxury SUV and surpasses the standard-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade. Folding down the third row opens up 42.7 cubic feet of space (48.7 if you slide the front seats forward). There’s a total of 84.7 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. That’s an average total for the luxury large SUV class, but it’s about 9 inches less than the outgoing 2019 GLS.

GLS Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The standard Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system features a 12.3-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio, a 13-speaker Burmester premium stereo, nine USB ports, and wireless device charging. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster also comes standard.

Gesture-based infotainment controls and a 7-inch tablet for operating the MBUX interface from the second row are available. Other optional features include a Wi-Fi hot spot, second-row wireless device charging, a 26-speaker Burmester sound system, and a panoramic roof.

The infotainment system works fairly well, but it takes some to master its many controls.

Read more about interior »

GLS Performance

GLS Engine: Mild Hybrid, Major Player

There are two engine choices for this Mercedes-Benz. A 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder that makes 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque is standard. The GLS 580 gets a 4.0-liter turbo V8 that produces 483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission comes standard.

Both engines are paired with a 48-volt electric motor. Mercedes calls this mild-hybrid system EQ Boost, and it can provide an additional 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque in short bursts.

The base engine is potent and energetic, producing plenty of power for city and highway driving. For something more robust, look to the GLS 580 and its V8. Whichever engine you choose, you’ll get a capable powertrain and a smooth-shifting transmission.

GLS Gas Mileage: Supreme

According to EPA estimates, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 gets 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Those are outstanding figures for a luxury large SUV. At the time of writing, fuel economy figures for the GLS 580 are unavailable.

GLS Ride and Handling: Luxurious and Dynamic

The GLS provides a smooth ride and is surprisingly agile. Critics especially like the available E-Active Body Control, which uses cameras to detect road flaws and adjusts the air suspension accordingly. Its Curve mode setting helps this big SUV turn with minimal body lean. Additionally, this Mercedes-Benz has some light off-road capability. All-wheel drive (4Matic, as Mercedes calls it) is standard.

GLS Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS can tow up to 7,700 pounds.

Read more about performance »

GLS Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLS Reliable?

At the time of writing, J.D. Power has not evaluated the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS for predicted reliability.

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 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS. This is common with high-end luxury vehicles.

GLS Safety Features

Standard active driver assistance features in this luxury SUV include a surround-view parking camera system, crosswind assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a driver condition monitor, automatic park assist, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive headlights. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (Active Brake Assist) come standard too.

Available active driver aids include a following distance indicator, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane change assist, a head-up display, and stop-and-go adaptive cruise control.

Read more about safety »

Mercedes-Benz GLS Dimensions and Weight

The 2020 GLS is about 17 feet long. It has a curb weight of 5,701 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2020 GLS in Alabama.

Which Mercedes-Benz GLS Model Is Right for Me?

Mercedes-Benz offers the GLS in two trims: 450 and 580. The 450 features a turbocharged six-cylinder engine, while the 580 boasts a V8. At the time of writing, little information has been released on the GLS 580’s features, and there is no information on potential AMG variants.

The base GLS 450 should suit most shoppers’ needs. It’s well-equipped and available with several packages and options.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 450

The base Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 has a starting MSRP of $75,200. It comes with a ton of standard features, including the MBUX infotainment system, a 12.3-inch touch screen, a 12.3-inch configurable digital instrument cluster, wireless device charging, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, navigation, nine USB ports, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound stereo. Proximity keyless entry, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a sunroof, alloy wheels, and a power liftgate are also standard.

Standard safety features include a driver condition monitor, blind spot monitoring, crosswind assist, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a surround-view parking camera system, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and automatic park assist.

The Executive Rear Seat Package is available for $2,200. Everything it adds is specific to the second row: wireless device charging, a 7-inch tablet for controlling the infotainment system, and side-impact air bags. The Executive Rear Seat Package Plus costs $3,750. It includes all of the above plus heated, ventilated, and massaging second-row seats.

The Convenience Package ($1,750) features quad-zone automatic climate control and ventilated front seats. You could opt for the Warmth & Comfort Package ($1,320) to get heated first- and second-row armrests or the Energizing Package Plus ($2,100) for ventilated and massaging front seats and an in-cabin air purification system.

You can get the Driver Assistance Package Plus for $2,250. It bundles a suite of advanced safety features, such as lane keep assist, lane change assist, a following distance indicator, and stop-and-go adaptive cruise control.

E-Active Body Control can be added for $6,500.

Many of these features are available as standalone options. Other options include heated second-row seats ($580), heated third-row seats ($360), a heated steering wheel ($250), five-zone automatic climate control ($400), a head-up display ($1,100), and a panoramic roof ($1,000).

You can swap the second-row bench seat for captain’s chairs for no charge.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 580

The GLS 580 has a starting MSRP of $97,800. In addition to the larger engine, the 580 gains five-zone automatic climate control, massaging front seats, and a few other features. However, Mercedes-Benz has not provided complete information about the GLS 580’s equipment list.

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 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS is a great luxury large SUV. Its outstanding performance rivals the best in the segment, largely because of its muscular engines, serene ride, composed handling, and great fuel economy. Its interior is roomy and upscale as well, though you may find that its infotainment system controls come with a learning curve.

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

  • "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. It is the S-Class of SUVs, after all." -- Autoweek
  • "Few SUVs are as good at combining off-road capability, cargo-carrying flexibility and passenger comfort as the Mercedes-Benz GLS. Both of its mild-hybrid powertrain choices are responsive and powerful, and its interior is plenty roomy for adults. But the cherry on the cake? It also has one of the best infotainment systems in the business and gives passengers a quiet and comfortable ride." -- Edmunds
  • "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. Maybe this time ‘the S-Class of SUVs’ is more than just marketing." -- CNET

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: December 5, 2019

Strong Sales: The GLS is currently the second-best selling luxury large SUV, behind only the Cadillac Escalade. Dealerships have sold about the same number of GLS models to date this year compared to the same period in 2018; it’s outselling its stablemate, the G-Class, by about 3 to 1.

Research more buying advice »
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