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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2017

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is a full-size, 7-seater SUV. If this sounds suspiciously like the old GL-Class, then here's the big news: The GL has been re-named the GLS, because it's based on the S-Class platform and comes with the kind of luxurious and technological touches that make the S-Class such a phenomenal flagship sedan.

This new moniker also coincides with a mid-generation refresh, bringing the styling more into line with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz portfolio. The cabin has also been updated.

What's New for 2017?

This model year marks the name change from GL to GLS along with the styling and equipment changes that this refreshment entails. The diesel version has been discontinued. A new option (from the S-Class) is an air ionization system.

What We Like

Outstanding engines; sumptuous interior with all the toys; adult-friendly third row; excellent highway manners; real off-road capability with optional equipment.

What We Don't

Massive size isn't for everyone; some expected luxuries (such as keyless entry/start) cost extra.

How Much?

$69,625-$125,025

Fuel Economy

All GLS-Class models feature 4Matic all-wheel drive. The GLS450 and GLS550 have a 9-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles. The AMG GLS63 has a 7-speed automatic transmission modified for quicker shifts.

The GLS450 has twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 making 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 17 miles per gallon in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg combined.

The GLS550 is propelled by a turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 that makes 449 hp and 516 lb-ft. The trip to 60 miles per hour takes just 5.2 seconds (1.3 seconds quicker than the GLS450), and the passing power feels even more fearsome than those numbers suggest. Not surprisingly, fuel economy is not great: 14/18/16 mpg.

The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GL63 enjoys a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that pumps out 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. It needs only 4.5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill. Fuel economy is similar to the GLS550 at 13/17/16 mpg.

Standard Features & Options

The 7-seater 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class comes in three variants.

The GLS450 4Matic ($69,625) has an air suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, LED running lights and taillights, aluminum roof rails, power liftgate, remote start, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, leatherette upholstery, power/heated front seats with adjustable driver lumbar support and driver's-side memory, power-folding third-row seats, rearview camera, 115-volt power outlet, 4.5-in color driver information display, Bluetooth and the Command infotainment system with an 8-in display, two USB ports and HD radio.

The GLS550 4Matic ($94,775) brings standard adaptive suspension dampers, adaptive LED headlights, 21-in AMG-design alloy wheels, power-closing doors, keyless entry/start, self-dimming/power-folding side mirrors, wood/leather steering wheel, top-stitched dashboard trim, upgraded wood inlays, tri-zone climate control, leather upholstery, multi-contour front seats with massage and ventilation functions plus memory settings for the front passenger, power-adjustable steering column, navigation, voice controls, self-parking function, parking sensors front and rear, 360-degree camera system and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with digital music storage, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio and an SD card reader.

Most of the GLS550's extra standard features can be added to the GLS450 as options.

The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 ($125,025) goes all out with the 5.5-liter V8, plus an AMG body kit, a roll-resistant suspension system (dubbed the Active Curve System), performance brakes, sport exhaust, panoramic sunroof, illuminated running boards, sport steering wheel, sport front seats and various exclusive AMG interior flourishes.

The GLS63's panoramic sunroof and active suspension can be added to the other models. Optional across the range are a heated steering wheel, power second-row easy entry, Wi-Fi, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio and a rear-seat entertainment system with twin LCD monitors.

The GLS450 and GLS550 are eligible for an Off-Road Engineering package that includes a multi-mode driving program selector with an increased maximum ride height, 2-speed transfer case with low-range gearing, locking center differential and front underbody protection.

Behind the third row, cargo space is 16 cu ft.; behind the second row, that expands to 49.4 cu ft. Fold both those rows down for a maximum of 93.8 cu ft.

Safety

The GLS-Class comes with standard stability control, Crosswind Assist, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and seven airbags (front, front side, driver's knee and full-length side-curtain), as well as driver alertness monitoring and a rearview camera.

Available driver aids include a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, self-parking system, active blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic assist, and lane-keeping assistance.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the current GLS-Class, but it should fare extremely well in a collision.

Behind the Wheel

By all rights, the GLS-Class should drive like a short bus because that's approximately how large this SUV is, but Mercedes-Benz has worked some magic with the driving character, employing a light-yet-accurate steering system to great effect. Not that the GL is nimble, but nor is it intimidating to drive, and that's the important thing.

Cruising comfort is where the GLS really excels. The standard air suspension takes the bumps out of almost any surface and the cabin remains library-quiet at speed. Off-road, the available dual-range transfer case makes the GLS a 3-row Range Rover alternative for more adventurous families. By the way, all three rows are legitimately adult-friendly, which is more than many 3-row crossovers can say.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Cadillac Escalade -- Relatively affordable and comes with a plush, well-appointed cabin.

2017 Infiniti QX80 -- Based on the capable Nissan Patrol SUV produced for overseas markets, the QX80 is a legitimate off-roader with a luxurious interior and a distinctive (possibly controversial) exterior.

2017 Land Rover Range Rover -- Not as large or as lumbering to drive. Gorgeous interior. No third-row seating, however.

2017 Lexus LX 570 -- Old under the skin, but luxurious, spacious, capable and built to a lofty standard. Seats up to eight.

Used Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon -- The GLS-Class sits at the top of the SUV pyramid, so anyone looking for a used alternative might be intrigued by a certified pre-owned (CPO) example of the world's wildest station wagon. The E63's track-ready handling is a stark contrast to the GLS, and its practical interior offers much of an SUV's functionality.

Autotrader's Advice

The big engines of the GLS550 and GLS63 AMG are tempting, but the GLS450 makes the most sense in the real world.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class: New Car Review - Autotrader