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2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS

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Top Expert-Rated 2018 Luxury Vehicles
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS Expert Review

By Keith Buglewicz

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class leads the mainstream side of the Benz SUV lineup; the mil-spec-based Gelandewagen G-Class is something of a specialty item. Available with either a twin-turbo V6 or twin-turbo V8 engine, the GLS-Class offers the kind of luxury trappings one expects from a Mercedes-Benz SUV, but with a practical side that is right up there with a more mainstream crossover SUV. The GLS-Class can seat seven passengers in comfort, it can tow 7,500 pounds, and with the V6 it even gets an acceptable 22 mpg on the highway. Its generous standard equipment includes a 9-speed automatic and air suspension that aren't even available on many competitors, and its “Mercedes-ness” makes it an excellent Interstate companion. There's also a fire-breathing AMG GLS 63 model, which is covered separately.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class offers up big-league towing and 7-passenger comfort, all in a luxury SUV that doesn't share its underpinnings with a lower-end model, like the Cadillac Escalade/Chevy Tahoe duo.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you aren't quite so brand-conscious, competitors like the GMC Acadia and Jeep Grand Cherokee offer many of the same features you can get in the GLS for less money. Additionally, not only can the Cadillac Escalade tow more, it also comes in a long-wheelbase version with excellent cargo and seating room.

How It Ranks

#5

out of 12

Fuel Economy

#8

out of 12

Horsepower
View all rankings
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

After a thorough update last year, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class carries over virtually unchanged, with the exception of additional wheel designs available on the GLS 450.

Driving the GLS
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is supremely confident on slippery roads thanks to the Dynamic Select modes on the drivetrain, which includes a Slippery setting. The settings are so good at...

... controlling and maintaining traction that it may be too easy to forget that the laws of physics still apply; don't get overconfident. If you order the off-road package, Dynamic Select gets an Off-Road+ setting that enables a low-range gearbox and center differential lock for off-pavement driving. While it can't take on the truly rough stuff like you could in a Jeep Wrangler, it's better than a lot of other competitors. All the while, you're surrounded by the kind of leather-bound comfort you'd expect from a Mercedes-Benz. The twin-turbo V6 is more than adequate in terms of acceleration and passing, and of course the twin-turbo V8 is exceptionally satisfying. The new 9-speed automatic transmission remains a delightful companion to both engines.

DYNAMIC SELECT
The Dynamic Select system adjusts the drivetrain in the GLS-Class to maximize traction depending on road conditions. If the pavement gets slick, a Slippery setting helps ensure maximum grip. The Off-Road+ setting makes this big SUV surprisingly capable in the rough stuff as well.

SURROUND VIEW SYSTEM
Big vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class can be hard to maneuver, but the available Surround View system makes it a lot easier. This 360-degree camera system gives you a bird's-eye view of the car, meaning there's no excuse for bad parking.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS Details
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Nobody should feel cramped in a luxury car, so there's good legroom for all seven passengers in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, even in the third row. Granted, there's not a lot of cargo space behind that third row, but if you fold the seats down you'll have plenty of room for all your stuff. Last year's updates helped increase the luxury quotient even further. There's a nicely shaped 3-spoke steering wheel, and the large infotainment screen that includes COMAND and can be equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Customization options include a wide palette of colors and schemes, plus high-end Designo selections.

Exterior
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS photo

There's no mistaking the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class as coming from any other manufacturer; however, its upright lines and squared shoulders definitely give it a last-generation appearance despite last year's general softening of the lines. Mercedes did manage to soften the headlights, grille and front bumper to resemble something closer to the GLC-Class, and we like the new, more modern LED taillights and subtly reshaped rear side glass. There are Designo paint schemes available, as well as a range of different alloy wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The cachet of the Mercedes-Benz badge on the nose of the 2018 GLS-Class is part of the roughly $70,500 price tag, but there is more as well. Of course you get things like cruise control, a power driver's seat with memory, a rearview camera, and an audio system with a 6-disc CD/DVD changer and Bluetooth audio streaming. Also included are remote start, a power tailgate, power-folding mirrors, and dual-zone climate control. Safety features include crosswind stabilization and systems that monitor for driver drowsiness or an impending collision. Mercedes' remote-application mbrace comes with five years of complimentary service.

Optional Equipment

Options get grouped into packages, such as the Driver Assistance Package, which includes blind-spot alert, brake assist, Pre-Safe anti-collision system, active cruise control and active lane keeping. Pick the Premium package and you'll get niceties like illuminated doorsills, push-button ignition, navigation and more. One clever feature is the Active Curve System package, which includes adaptive shocks and a curve-system stability control that is just about as close to autonomous driving as Mercedes' lawyers will let the engineers get. Like many luxury manufacturers, leather is actually an option, with your choice of regular or super-soft Nappa leather. The Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system is a must for audiophiles.

Under the Hood
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS Engine photo

The 2018 GLS4450 comes with a twin-turbo V6 engine putting out 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, stats that were solidly V8 territory not too long ago. However, there is a V8 in the GLS 550, a 4.7-liter twin turbo that puts out 449 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard on both models, as is an excellent 9-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly enough that you may not even notice. All GLS-Class models require premium fuel, with the V6 the thriftier of the two as it sips a gallon every 22 miles.

3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (GLS 450)
362 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/22 mpg

4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (GLS 550)
449 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 mpg

If you want a 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 4Matic, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base model is about $70,500, including the $995 destination charge. The V8 power of the GLS 550 adds more than $25,000 to that price, with its base price just under the $96,000 mark; it comes with more equipment at that price, not just a bigger engine. That's not cheap, especially when you consider that options can push the price into 6-digit territory. Then again, they're competitive against the Cadillac Escalade and Range Rover Sport. Even with options pushing the price of a GLS 550 $100,000 and beyond, it's still fair against the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Lexus LX 570. Before shopping, check out the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com to see what others in your area paid for their GLS-Class, and expect to have very good resale value.

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