Search Cars for Sale

Video | Here’s Why the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS Is a Great Luxury Family SUV

I recently had the chance to drive the new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS, a full-size luxury SUV designed for family use. The GLS is quite pricey for a family car: The base-level GLS450 starts around $76,000, and the more powerful GLS580 starts at just under $100,000.

That there’s a new Mercedes-Benz GLS shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows the car industry. Even though Mercedes-Benz recently redesigned the smaller GLE crossover, the GLS also needed attention, as full-size luxury SUVs are incredibly popular at the moment. Consider, for example, the new BMW X7, the new Lincoln Navigator and updated versions of the Land Rover Range Rover and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

Once the gold standard in the 3-row full-size luxury SUV segment, the GLS had fallen behind its more modern rivals in recent years. A redesign only made sense. There are two versions of the redesigned GLS: the 6-cylinder GLS450 with 360 horsepower, and the V8-powered GLS580 with 480 hp. A powerful AMG model is almost surely also on the way.

I drove the GLS450, which will absolutely be the most popular version of the GLS. I’ve also driven the BMW X7 and the new Lincoln Navigator recently, and I was curious to see how the GLS stacks up. I think the GLS rivals the X7 and the Navigator, but it’s less a dazzling new vehicle than those models and more a traditional Mercedes-Benz.

The new X7 and the new Navigator each have some excellent trick features, like the X7’s third-row sunroof and the Navigator’s seemingly infinitely adjustable power seats. Each model is essentially new to the segment — the Navigator’s newness stems from a recent rebirth — so releasing a vehicle with some crazy new technology was necessary to grab the spotlight, however temporarily, given the speed of competition.

On the other hand, the GLS, which debuted in 2007, now enters its third generation. It’s a great luxury SUV, but the tricks aren’t present. The GLS doesn’t really have the wow factor items that you find in the X7 and the Navigator. There’s Mercedes’ new infotainment system, sure, and it’s a huge improvement over the outgoing system and one of the best in the industry. But many Mercedes models have it. The kind of features that set a vehicle apart from its rivals and get the press talking — those aren’t really there on the GLS.

Same deal with the driving experience. The GLS is great on the road, sure, but that’s no big surprise. You don’t get the king-of-the-road feeling you get sitting in the Navigator’s comfortable seats. You don’t get the surprising athleticism that you get from the X7. Instead, it’s typical Mercedes-Benz quality and capability, with good power and a comfortable ride — nothing unusually noteworthy.

For some shoppers, this is a good thing. If you’ve owned a GL or GLS before, you want more of the same, only refined and improved — and that’s precisely what you get with the 2020 GLS. If you’re looking for a family luxury SUV without any gimmicks, that, too, is what you get here. The 2020 GLS is a great luxury crossover with 3-row seating — so what if the headlights don’t do a little dance as you approach?

Indeed, the 2020 GLS is a great luxury crossover. It’s quiet on the road, with a nice, supple ride, and the 6-cylinder powertrain is unusually responsive considering the turbocharged design and the GLS’s heft. The infotainment system is really great, and the controls — infotainment and otherwise — are intuitive and nice enough to use. The GLS provokes no complaints.

Except maybe this one: It’s a highly competent car in a sea of more exciting ones. It’s the safe choice, where its rivals are a bit more daring. It’s highly recommended, sure, but it’s never going to surprise you.

Then again, when it comes to family transportation, that might be precisely the point. Find a Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class for sale

Here Are 5 Japanese Cars That Will Go Up in Value
You Can Already Get a 2017 Acura NSX on Autotrader for Under $120,000
Autotrader Find: This 2012 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI Has Been Driven 445,600 Miles

Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...


  1. You sure that’s not the GLE? From the side I can’t tell the difference. Maybe the longer rear doors?

    EDIT – Nevermind, the C Pillar makes a big difference!

Leave a Comment

Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

Most Popular Articles

Best New Cars for 2022

Here is our list of the best new cars for 2022 (presented in alphabetical order by manufacturer).

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best Car Deals: November 2022

This month's best new car deals include several attractive offers for qualified shoppers.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This