2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS packs mild-hybrid power and oodles of luxury

Mercedes' fullsize SUV makes its debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show.

Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Steven Ewing
3 min read

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class SUV is large and in charge. Making its debut at the New York Auto Show this week, Mercedes' largest SUV has been completely redesigned. And while it might not seem like too big of a departure from its predecessor at first blush, there's a ton of new luxury and tech features inside. And there's a brand-new engine under the hood.

The new is only a little bit bigger than its forebear: three inches longer and an inch wider. The real gain comes in wheelbase, which is stretched by 2.3 inches for 2020, allowing for more legroom for second- and third-row passengers.

Overall, the 2020 model's design isn't a massive departure from the current SUV -- it looks more like an inflated GLE-Class than anything else. That's not a slight, by the way. The GLS has a handsome, understated design, with standard LED headlights and taillights. The base GLS450 comes with 19-inch wheels as standard, while the new GLS580 rolls on 21s. You can even spec the GLS580 with 23-inch wheels. Twenty-threes!

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class brings big luxe to the Big Apple

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If "GLS580" doesn't immediately ring a bell, that's because it's a new addition to the GLS range. It uses a brand-new engine: a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 with Mercedes' EQ Boost mild-hybrid tech. The engine alone is capable of putting out 483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, and the 48-volt starter-generator offers supplemental oomph of up to 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet. Mercedes says this helps the big GLS580 scoot to 60 miles per hour in just 5.2 seconds. That's pretty quick for an SUV this size.

Mercedes will also offer the GLS450 in the US, powered by a 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six engine, which also uses EQ Boost. This is the same powerplant used in Mercedes' other 450-badged cars, and it's a sweetheart. In the GLS450, the I6 engine produces 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, and again, the 48-volt system offers 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of assist when needed. It might not be as powerful as the GLS580, but the GLS450 is only about half a second slower to 60 mph.

Regardless of engine, the 2020 GLS-Class uses a nine-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is also standard on both models.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

The GLS gets a pair of 12.3-inch displays, running Mercedes' latest MBUX infotainment tech.


The onboard 48-volt battery means the 2020 GLS also gets Mercedes' new E-Active Body Control system, which first debuted on the new . This not only helps to improve on-road handling, it can help you get out of sticky (well, sandy) situations off-road. Or, you know, just make the SUV dance.

E-ABC is just one of many technologies baked into the 2020 GLS package. All of Mercedes' latest and greatest stuff is here, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, active steering assist, emergency stop assist, lane-change assist, speed limit assist, route-based speed adaptation, blind-spot monitoring, car-to-X communication, a car wash mode and more. If it comes on the new , you can bet the GLS has it, as well.

More new tech is found inside, where the GLS gets Mercedes' MBUX infotainment system, housed on a pair of 12.3-inch screens. Embedded navigation is standard, as are Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless phone charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot. MBUX ought to work as well here as it does in any other new Mercedes, with augmented reality navigation overlays and natural-speech voice control (which can be a little finicky sometimes).

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

No matter which GLS you choose, you get mild-hybrid power.


The fullsize GLS comes with three rows of seats and Mercedes is offering a no-cost-option, six-passenger configuration with second-row captain's chairs. Up front, the GLS' interior design is reminiscent of what we see in the GLE, meaning it ought to be plenty comfortable and nicely appointed. The MBUX Interior Assistant gesture controls are available as an option, as are heated and cooled cup holders, active multicontour seats and that crazy Energizing Comfort system that'll play techno music to keep you alert if you wish.

Following its 2019 New York Auto Show debut, the 2020 GLS-Class will hit Mercedes showrooms "by the end of the year," according to the company's official statement. The current model starts at just over $70,000, and this much-nicer 2020 version ought to command several thousand dollars more than that. We'll have final pricing data and more information in the coming months.