When it comes to electrification, Mercedes-Benz is surging ahead of other luxury automakers. And nowhere is that more apparent than the EQS580 SUV, which is one of the most serene experiences I've had behind the wheel in years.
I quite liked the EQS sedan's spaceshippy design when it first debuted, and I think that look is every bit as good when adapted to an SUV. Sure, it isn't as aerodynamic as the sedan, but the EQS SUV's shape is still mighty slippery with a drag coefficient of 0.26. The tail end of the roofline doesn't taper that much, so the EQS retains a strong SUV shape. The hood has some creasing, but the rest of the body is generally devoid of harsh angles or other visual noise that would only get in the way of efficiency.
Inside, the cockpit is nearly a carbon copy of the EQS sedan -- again, not a problem, because it's great. It's not hard to tell that a lot of thought went into this interior. The build quality is excellent, with my tester's $1,370 Nappa leather upgrade extending this soft upholstery to nearly every surface. The wood trim on the center console is my favorite part, though, as it features metal three-pointed stars embedded within. Three rows of seats are available, but you can also opt for a two-row configuration, which offers oodles of rear legroom.
There's still plenty of practicality hiding behind this plushness. The door pockets are large enough for most water bottles, although big ol' Nalgenes will still have a hard time finding a place to chill. Under the center console's sliding door are a set of retractable cup holders and plenty of space for tchotchkes and the like. The storage tray underneath the console is huge, and there's some extra space under the armrest, as well. Out back, there's about 31 cubic feet of cargo area, which is less than what the BMW iX offers, but it's still enough for a family's worth of shopping bags.
The 580 is the beefiest model in the EQS SUV lineup, and it will likely stay that way, as Mercedes does not intend to launch an AMG variant for the time being. A pair of electric motors, one at each axle, combine to produce 536 horsepower and 633 pound-feet of torque, which is enough power for this SUV to reach 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. The instantaneous nature of electric torque means acceleration hits like a sack of bricks at most speeds, pushing me back into that cushy Nappa leather as sound coming through the speakers provides a subtle yet futuristic soundtrack.
Since the EQS SUV isn't as aerodynamically efficient as its sedan sibling, there's a slightly larger amount of wind noise at speed, but the car still remains largely sealed away from the elements, aided in part by my tester's $1,010 Acoustic Comfort package, which adds thicker glass. The SUV's standard air suspension system soaks up just about every inch of nastiness on the road, and while it can stiffen up and hustle around, this car is best left in its softer settings. Standard rear-axle steering makes urban traversal simple despite the EQS SUV's larger footprint.
Regenerative braking is interesting here, just as it is on the EQS sedan. There are a few different strengths to toggle through, but there is no true one-pedal mode -- just Intelligent, which combines with the car's myriad safety systems to keep an even pace with low-speed traffic. The brake pedal also moves as regeneration kicks in, to provide a predictable braking force any time my foot touches the pedal. Honestly, I like the way it works; it's never caught me off-guard, although it does feel strange after exiting an EV without this setup. The pedal is a little mushy, too, which is fine for slow, smooth stops, but it's not as confidence-inspiring on heavier, more panicked applications.
The EQS SUV does sacrifice some range for its larger, less efficient body. The EPA rates the EQS580 SUV at 285 miles per charge, or about 2.4 miles per kilowatt-hour. Downsizing to the EQS450 Plus SUV improves range to 305 miles, but nothing can match the outright efficiency of the sedan with its estimated 340-mile range. Nevertheless, the EQS SUV is still pretty good at sipping electrons, and my efforts behind the wheel return numbers that meet (and occasionally beat) the feds' best efforts. When it comes time to juice up, the EQS SUV will accept up to 200 kilowatts of juice, going from a 10% state of charge to 80% in about half an hour.
I think the EQS SUV is best enjoyed at night, because its standard 64-color ambient lighting is a true sight to behold. LED strips extend across nearly every surface of the car, and there are unique animations for changing the temperature or when the "Hey, Mercedes" voice assistant engages. There's also a setting to change the lighting as the vehicle accelerates.
Of course, there's far more cabin tech in the EQS SUV than just some fancy lights. The 580 comes standard with Mercedes' Hyperscreen, a dash-spanning piece of glass that houses a massive 17.7-inch central screen, in addition to the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen for the passenger. The largest display can show a giant map with overlays for the radio, massaging seats and other features. The navigation does an excellent job of ensuring a route includes plenty of chargers, and both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included. USB-C ports are within reach of every seat, ensuring everybody's devices stay topped off. The EQS SUV also comes standard with a whole host of active and passive safety systems, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, active steering assist, automatic emergency braking, automatic lane changes and blind-spot monitoring.
Somewhat surprisingly, the 2023 Mercedes EQS SUV isn't that much more expensive than an equivalent EQS sedan. A base EQS450 Plus SUV starts at $105,550, including $1,150 for destination, but the beefier EQS580 SUV brings that price up to $127,100. With some tasteful options like $1,100 massaging front seats, $860 four-zone climate control and $450 for faster seat heating, this example rings in at $132,880. It's a tall price to pay, but it's in line with the segment, which isn't really about scrimping or saving -- a BMW iX M60, for example, will set you back about $109,000 before options.
For this much money, expectations can be high, but the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS580 SUV exceeds them. It takes everything the automaker has learned about building a comfortable, interesting luxury SUV and adapts it to an electric future, and the resulting EV feels every bit as futuristic as it looks.