$52,778 - $93,616

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.7

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS offers a choice of three powerful engines, each of which pairs with a smooth-shifting transmission. The V6 gets the best fuel economy of the group, but the two available V8s deliver outstanding power and acceleration, particularly the V8 powering the AMG model. 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 (2017)
  • "Press the starter, and … [the AMG's 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8] 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, … 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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The GLS 450 comes with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine that puts out 362 horsepower. You might think a big SUV needs a V8, but this V6 has plenty of power for most driving situations. You can step up to a V8 by opting for a higher trim.

The GLS 550 features a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 that produces 449 horsepower. It’s noticeably quicker than the GLS 450, but it still isn’t the most powerful GLS engine. That would be the 577-horsepower, twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 powering the AMG GLS 63. This engine has enough oomph to throw you back in your seat when you put the hammer down, even though you're in such a large SUV, and it’ll take you from zero to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds.

A nine-speed automatic transmission comes standard in GLS 450 and GLS 550 models, but AMG GLS 63 models feature a seven-speed automatic. Both transmissions deliver smooth, timely shifts. When properly equipped, the GLS can tow up to 7,500 pounds.

The 450 gets the best fuel economy of any GLS, earning an EPA-estimated 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Those are some of the best ratings in the class, though it’s worth noting that many rivals come standard with a V8 engine. With its V8 options, the GLS’ gas mileage drops. The 550 gets 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, while the AMG GLS 63 gets 13/18 mpg city/highway.

  • "The twin-turbo V6 is more than adequate in terms of acceleration and passing, and of course the twin-turbo V8 is exceptionally satisfying. The new 9-speed automatic transmission remains a delightful companion to both engines." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "At $68,700 to start, [the GLS 450] 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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)

Handling and Braking

All-wheel drive is standard in the GLS, which is one reason this SUV handles inclement weather so effortlessly. In fact, some test drivers think the GLS’ surefootedness could cause driver overconfidence. The available Dynamic Select 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 you can handle road conditions even better.

Road grip aside, the GLS has precise steering and is fairly maneuverable for a large SUV, but you probably won’t go so far as to call it nimble. It’s poised around turns, and the ride quality – especially in Comfort mode – is terrific.

  • "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 (2017)
  • "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." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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." -- Motor Trend (2017)

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