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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2019

High on luxury, big on space, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class full-size SUV offers sumptuous accommodation for seven. As well as being an excellent choice for road trips, the GLS is also extremely capable when there are no roads.

The 2019 GLS-Class will be the last iteration of this current generation. An all-new version debuts for 2020. In the meantime, the GLS is still a major force among luxury SUVs. It's based on the S-Class platform, coming with the kind of luxurious and technological touches that make the S-Class such a phenomenal flagship sedan. These include a cabin air fragrance system and massaging front seats, plus the availability of several advanced safety features.

There are also many choices of exterior colors plus interior materials and colors to make the GLS a truly personalized vehicle.

What's New for 2019?

Grand Edition packages for the GLS 450 and GLS 550 bring various aesthetic and equipment combinations. See the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class models for sale near you

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
  • This generation is winding down

How Much?

$71,145 to $127,145

Fuel Economy

All GLS-Class models feature 4Matic all-wheel drive. The GLS 450 and GLS 550 have a 9-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles. The AMG GLS 63 has a 7-speed automatic transmission modified for quicker shifts.

The GLS 450 employs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 making 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 16 miles per gallon in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg in combined driving.

The GLS 550 is propelled by a turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 that generates 449 hp and 516 lb-ft. The sprint to 60 mph takes just 5.2 seconds (1.3 seconds quicker than the GLS 450) and the passing power feels even more fearsome than those numbers suggest. Unsurprisingly, fuel economy is not great: 14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined.

The Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 enjoys a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 developing 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. It needs only 4.5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill. Fuel consumption is 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 7-seater 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class comes in three variants.

The GLS 450 4Matic ($71,145) has air suspension, 19-in alloy wheels, a sunroof, LED running lights and taillights, aluminum roof rails, a powered lift gate, power-folding side mirrors, remote start, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, simulated leather upholstery, powered/heated front seats with adjustable driver lumbar support and driver's-side memory, power-folding third-row seats, a rearview camera, a 115-volt power outlet, a 4.5-in color driver information display, Bluetooth, and the Comand infotainment system with an 8-in display, two USB ports and HD radio.

The GLS 550 4Matic ($96,745) brings standard adaptive suspension dampers, adaptive LED headlights, 21-inch AMG-design alloy wheels, power-closing doors, keyless entry/ignition, self-dimming/power-folding side mirrors, a 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, a power-adjustable steering column, ambient cabin lighting, navigation, voice controls, self-parking function, parking sensors front and rear, a 360-degree camera system, and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with digital music storage, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, satellite radio and an SD card reader.

Many of the GLS 550's standard features can be added to the GLS 450 as options.

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 ($127,145) goes all out with the 5.5-liter V8, plus an AMG body kit, a roll-resistant suspension system (called the Active Curve System, optional in the non-AMG GLS models), performance brakes, a sport exhaust system, a panoramic sunroof, illuminated running boards, sport steering wheel, sport front seats, and various exclusive AMG interior flourishes.

A Driver Assistance Package brings adaptive cruise control with Steering Pilot, Active Blind Spot Assist, and Active Lane-Keeping Assist. Other options include 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 GLS 450 and GLS 550 are eligible for an Off-Road package that includes a multi-mode driving program selector with an increased maximum ride height 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 down both rows 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, a self-parking system, active blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist, lane-keeping assist, and Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function.

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 hold up exceptionally well in a collision, considering how strong on safety Mercedes-Benz is.

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 GLS 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. The Off-road package makes the GLS a 7-seater Land Rover Range Rover alternative for more adventurous families. Each seating row is legitimately adult-friendly, which is more than many 3-row crossovers can claim.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 BMW X7 -- All-new for this year. The X7 is now the biggest SUV made by BMW and similar to the GLS. Let's see how it fares against the new GLS generation that debuts for 2020.

2019 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.

2019 Lexus LX 570 -- Old under the skin, but luxurious, spacious, capable and built to a lofty standard. Seats up to eight.

2019 Lincoln Navigator -- Massive, even for a full-size SUV. Totally worth considering, which says a lot about how far Lincoln has come in the last few years.

Used Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class -- The GLS-Class sits at the top of the large luxury SUV pyramid, so there's nothing bigger or better out there. Given the few changes that have taken place over the last couple of years, a used example could be just as well equipped as a new 2019 GLS, but for less money. Check out the Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

Autotrader's Advice

Wait for the 2020 GLS-Class or drive away from the Mercedes-Benz dealership with possibly a sweet deal on a 2019 model. Even at this high level, the first models of a new generation might have a few teething troubles. Whichever route you take, select the driver assistance features. Of the 2019 choices, the V8-powered GLS 550 has a great combination of luxury, ability, equipment and gutsy engine. Find a Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class for sale

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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.
2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class Review - Autotrader