$41,727 - $77,230

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class was new.


Performance: 8.6

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS offers a choice of three powerful engines, and each is paired with a smooth-shifting automatic transmission. The base V6 gets the best fuel economy of the bunch, but the two available V8s deliver outstanding power and acceleration. No matter which engine you choose, you'll enjoy a smooth ride and, thanks to the GLS' standard all-wheel drive, plenty of road grip.

  • "If you can afford the step up to the GLS550 with a 4.7-liter V-8 twin-turbo gasoline engine, you will appreciate the 449 hp (up 20) and keep grinning with 516 lb-ft of torque at your disposal. The SUV hits 120 mph effortlessly without feeling like it is going fast." -- Motor Trend
  • "Under the hood lies a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8, each one hand-built from start to finish by a single AMG technician (when finished, each engine is personally signed). Press the starter, and it thumps to life before settling into a threatening throb, like the warning tremor of a coming earthquake. Ease down on the throttle and the GLS63 charges off as if cut free from a tether, 561 pound-feet of torque coming on peak almost immediately and flowing through the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, the rig's prodigious mass all but forgotten. My first passenger of the week, when I pressed the right pedal a little harder and the Benz launched up an entrance ramp, uttered just two words: 'No way!'" -- Automobile Magazine
  • "There's plenty of power from the twin-turbo V8 in the GLS550 4Matic, and we love the new 9-speed automatic transmission. The 577-horsepower V8 in the AMG may be overkill, but it's a ton of fun." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The GLS lineup features several engines, and which one you get depends on which model you choose. The GLS450 comes with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 362 horsepower. This is the least powerful of the GLS' engines, but it still has enough juice for any driving situation. It also gets the best fuel economy of any GLS engine, earning an EPA-estimated 17 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. Those ratings are among the best in the class.

The GLS550 features a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 that produces 449 horsepower. It doesn't get the fuel economy of the V6, earning just 14 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway. However, it makes the GLS feel pretty fast, which isn't that common for a luxury large SUV. Still, it's not the engine you want if you really want to feel the GLS take off.

To do that, get the AMG GLS63, which comes with a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that puts out 577 horsepower. This engine has enough power to throw you back in your seat despite the GLS' size. Mercedes claims that the GLS63 has a zero-to-60 time of just 4.5 seconds, which rivals some sports cars. The AMG has the most powerful engine and, not surprisingly, the lowest fuel economy estimates. According to the EPA, it delivers 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway.

A nine-speed automatic transmission comes standard in GLS450 and GLS550 models, but AMG GLS63 models feature a seven-speed automatic. The transmissions are smooth and responsive, and they incorporate Dynamic Select, which lets you choose different driving modes that affect performance.

A 3.0-liter turbodiesel powertrain is planned for the GLS lineup, but it is not available yet, as it faces further testing from the EPA. Upon release, the diesel engine is expected to deliver outstanding fuel economy for the class.

  • " At $68,700 to start, [the GLS450] is the cheapest of the three gas-engine GLS models. … Still, it's no slouch with its turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. That's plenty of power, responsively and pretty quietly delivered, for around-town driving or highway cruising." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The GLS450 is a fleet SUV in its own right, but the V8-powered models practically redefine what's possible for a large crossover with their effortless acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "If you’re more concerned about power than saving fuel, the GLS450 offers a more powerful V6, while the GLS550 comes with a 449-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine, a bit more than last year’s model. All three come standard with an excellent new 9-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

All-wheel drive is standard in the GLS, giving the vehicle a sure-footed feel even when the weather is bad. The GLS can even hold its own in off-road situations, though it will never be mistaken for a go-anywhere chariot like the Land Rover Range Rover. To make things even easier, the GLS comes standard with Dynamic Select, which lets you choose from one of five driving modes (Comfort, Sport, Slippery, Off-Road, and Individual) that adapt the GLS' throttle response, shifting, and more so that you can handle any road conditions.

The GLS isn't exactly agile, but it is more maneuverable than some competitors. The steering is sharp, and the GLS is composed around corners. It also does a great job absorbing road imperfections and providing a smooth ride, especially in the Comfort setting.

  • "We drove the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class in Austria both on and off the pavement. On the snow-blown roads in the Austrian Alps, the 2017 GLS made short work of the slippery conditions, thanks to an extended Dynamic Select transmission, which includes a 'slippery' setting. It was so good that driver over-confidence may be an issue." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Compared to the GL-Class, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class benefits from suspension refinements that provide a more controlled, confident feel in corners. Nonetheless, it retains the quiet interior and absorbent ride over bumps for which the GL was known. Braking performance was a strong suit for the GL, and we expect it to remain one for the GLS, which stops with the drama-free ease of a much smaller vehicle." -- Edmunds
  • "The beauty of the GLS is that regardless of what is under the hood, this seven-passenger vehicle does not feel big or lumbering even on twisting roads. Part of that is courtesy of the 'active curve system' to control body roll. And the new computer-controlled air suspension slurps up any irregularities the pavement has to offer. All choices offer enough power—but your definition of 'enough' can vary." -- Motor Trend

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