Automobiles

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV First Ride Review: Mountaineer in a Tailored Suit

This electric SUV does everything you need and more, and it makes you feel like a million bucks in the process.

A good bit of the EQS sedan's aerodynamic trickery comes from its front end, so don't expect much differentiation there when the camouflage comes off.
Mercedes-Benz

Frankly, I thought it'd be bigger.

While it may ride on the same wheelbase as the Mercedes-Benz EQS electric luxury sedan, I was assuming its sibling, the 2023 EQS SUV, would be a tall, long, slab-sided behemoth akin to the GLS-Class. But even wrapped in camouflage, I can tell the EQS SUV is significantly more svelte than the GLS-Class. After all, efficiency is a currency when it comes to electric cars, and ensuring a low drag coefficient (and, thus, improving range) will likely pull in more buyers than an extra inch of third-row headroom would.

Mercedes is planning to unveil the EQS SUV in its full glory on April 19, and ahead of that, I am afforded the opportunity to slide into the front passenger seat for a quick ride both on-road and off. But before we head onto the forest paths tucked away around Mercedes-Benz's vehicle plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I have a lovely new interior to take in, too.

The pictures you see here are the first the company has published of the EQS SUV, and the interior isn't exactly shaking things up. That's a good thing in this case, because the EQS' insides are among the best in the industry, relying heavily on soft-touch materials and pops of character. The leather and suede feel great, but the EQS SUV does pick up some unique touches, like a trim made from magnolia wood and stainless steel. Being a large SUV, a third row is available as an option, as well, bringing the total seating from five to seven. While we weren't allowed to poke around the cargo area, Mercedes said the cargo hold can accommodate up to four golf bags.

There's also a healthy smattering of tech in the EQS SUV, most of it familiar and great. The 56-inch Hyperscreen is here, in all its dash-spanning glory, merging the gauge cluster, infotainment screen and passenger screen into a single glass entity. Running the same MBUX telematics system as the EQS, the SUV does pick up some new off-road pages that let the occupants monitor the vehicle's tilt or suspension travel. The passenger display has a new trick, too: The driver's eye monitor can tell if they're trying to sneak a peek, at which point it will disable the screen until the driver puts their eyes back on the road. Not only is it a cool piece of new tech using existing systems, it also happens to be the only way the feds will let Mercedes-Benz play a video on the dashboard of a moving vehicle.

You didn't think Mercedes-Benz was going to skip the Hyperscreen, did you? That wow factor is way too powerful to ignore.

Mercedes-Benz

After running my hands all over that finely brushed Alcantara suede, it's time to hit the road. In the minute or so I spend on proper pavement, I'm pleasantly surprised with the ride quality. Then again, the EQS isn't much different. A standard adaptive air suspension irons out all the rough edges while the SUV glides silently down the road. Of course, there weren't exactly potholes on this finely calibrated piece of German test-pavement, but my time in the dirt shows that I (and every EQS SUV buyer, for that matter) have nothing to worry about in that situation, either.

For several minutes, the 2023 EQS SUV cruises over shady-looking log bridges, executes tight passes between trees and tackles impressively steep inclines with absolute aplomb. The air suspension soaks all that nastiness up and translates impressively little into the cabin. The most egregious noise comes from the EQS SUV's downhill speed control, and that's just the anti-lock brake system doing its thing. I'm not hearing any clunks or any other untoward sound coming from under the body. It's largely a smooth, quiet experience, as any range-topping electric luxury SUV should be. Will most owners ever know this capability exists? No, but if they need it, it's there.

Sadly, there's still a lot we don't know about the EQS SUV. Since the SUV may share the same wheelbase and platform as the EQS, it would stand to reason that trims would end up similar, like how the sedan has a lower-output EQS 450 Plus and a beefier EQS 580 version below the eventual AMG product, but that's all speculation for now.

Another big question mark hovers over the range. There's more body over this battery than on the sedan, so it's not a bridge too far to assume that the EQS SUV is at least a smidge heavier on the scales. What the engineers did confirm, though, is that the EQS SUV does not match the EQS sedan's incredible 0.20 drag coefficient. However, with a front end that seems to resemble the sedan and a tapered rear end for cutting through the air better than a long-roof utility vehicle would, I can't imagine the EQS SUV is too far below the sedan's range estimate of 340 to 350 miles, although there will be some physics penalty involved.

When it goes on sale this fall, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV will be built at the automaker's facility in Tuscaloosa, which is expanding with a new battery plant that will add up to 600 more jobs in the area.

There's a lot to like in the Mercedes EQS SUV. From what I've experienced, it carries the EQS' grace and style into a perennially popular body style with even more capability for families and adventurers alike.


Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.