2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS450 Review


The Mercedes-Benz GLS is the biggest, most luxurious crossover the company has to offer. When I say the biggest, I am referring to the interior space. It can comfortably seat seven passengers, and offers the most cargo space compared to the other Mercedes-Benz crossovers. 

The 2020 GLS rides on a completely redesigned platform to compete with the likes of BMW X7, Audi Q8, and Lincoln Navigator. It features a refreshed exterior, a roomier interior, and all the latest technologies you would expect from a S-class Mercedes-Benz. 

Thanks to Mercedes-Benz Canada, I was loaned the 2020 GLS450 for one week to test drive. Below is my unbiased review. 

The 2020 GLS is 2.3” longer and about an inch wider than its predecessor. The front facia looks bold and aggressive with a chrome twin-bar grille that frames the iconic three pointed star logo in its center. The headlamps have been redesigned to feature full LED lighting. Additional chrome trims are added to the bumper for a slick, polished look. 

The GLS looks much more conservative from the side. The designers at Mercedes-Benz break up the side visual with sweeping character lines and chiseled door panels. The 21” 5-triple-spoke wheels are appropriately sized and feature a classy, understated design.

From the back, the GLS looks a little busy with interestingly patterned LED tail lamps connected by a chrome bar located in the middle of the deeply carved tailgate. The integrated roof spoiler increases aerodynamic efficiency and also houses a third brake light. The AMG style bumper features a thick chrome insert that matches the chrome exhaust tips for a striking look. It is only available with either the Sport Package, or the Night Package. 

Overall, the new GLS looks much more cohesive with the rest of the Mercedes-Ben’s lineup. I would prefer a bolder, flashier exterior design given the fact that it is a S class, but the classy vibe of the GLS should appeal to a greater audience. 

The interior of the GLS is much more modern and technologically advanced than the previous generation. As with all S-class, high quality materials are generously appointed throughout the cabin, and the overall fit and finish is superb. All hard plastics are tucked away in places you would not normally reach. The upper deck houses two huge 12.3” digital displays that are connected together for a continuous look. The screens are surrounded by air vents. There are two on the sides, and four directly underneath. The rectangular metallic air vents look gorgeous against the dark wood overlay. A row of buttons and rotary dials are dedicated to the cabin climate control. The exterior lighting is controlled by a rotary dial located on the left side of the steering wheel.

At night, the interior of the GLS turns into a nightclub. A network of LEDs outlines the dash/door trim and console grips. They also illuminate the footwells, door handles, and door pockets. The driver can customize the color and brightness of the LEDs. Numerous programs also let you enjoy animated color changes and two-color effects. Open the door and you will see the illuminated door sill and the Mercedes-Benz logo projected on the pavement via the side mirror. The beautifully crafted Burmester speakers certainly help to set the mood with amazingly rich sound and deep bass. 

The front seats are covered in plush chocolate-brown leather. The seats are extensively adjustable via the buttons on the door panel. With the premium package, you also get climate comfort front seats that offer three levels of heating and cooling ventilation. 

The standard GLS is configured to seat 7 with a bench style 40/20/40-split folding 2nd-row seat. Our tester is configured to seat 6 passengers with the optional 2nd-row captain’s chairs. The captain chairs are as comfortable as the front seats with almost the same amount of adjustability and the same climate comfort functionalities. The second row cabin passengers also enjoy dedicated climate controls, USB charging ports, and the optional power sunshades. 

With the captain’s chairs, there are two ways to access the third row. The inner armrests of each seat fold up to allow center-aisle access to the back. Alternatively, you can tip each seat forward to enter the third row. The third row cabin offers reasonable headroom and limited legroom. Two children or teenagers would find the third row cabin comfortable, especially with the dedicated charging ports for their smartphones. 

The inside of the GLS is an exceedingly comfortable place to be, especially for the first row and second row passengers. The amount of technologies and features available is dizzying, and the premium interior should satisfy the most demanding customers. 


The 2020 GLS comes with the latest Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system. As I have introduced in my other reviews, the new MBUX system is simply one of the best in the market. 

It features an integrated dual screen design. The 12.3” screen on the right is dedicated to vehicle, audio, and navigation information. It can be controlled via the touchpad controller in the center console or the touch control button on the right hand side of the steering wheel. 

On the left hand side is another 12.3" color display that focuses more on vehicle settings, driving information, and driver assist functions. It is controlled by the touch control button on the left hand side of the steering wheel. 

The MBUX system also features linguatronic voice control to activate some non-safety related functions. You can simply use the keyword “Hey, Mercedes” to ask the car to perform various tasks including changing the interior light color, setting the cabin temperature, and looking for a coffee shop close by.  

The command style controller in the center console includes a touch pad and quick access buttons on the sides. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard, as well as Mercedes' Connect Me system. It allows you to remotely access your vehicle via a smartphone app. The functions it can access include remote start, door lock, vehicle monitoring, and parking locator.

The amount of tech available can be intimidating, and it does take some time to get used to. But the MBUX system allows you to achieve the same task in multiple ways. It is quite intuitive once you get a hang of it. 

There are 9 charging ports in the GLS. All of them are USB-C type sockets. There is one in the storage tray, two in the front console, two more for the second row, and four more in the third row. On top of that, a wireless charging pad supporting the Qi standard is located in the center console.

Safety and Driver Assistance
Being an S class, the GLS is packed with safety features. The standard features include:
  • Active Brake Assist
  • In-vehicle, one-touch calling features
  • Active MULTIBEAM LED Lighting System
  • Adaptive Highbeam Assist
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist
  • Blind Spot Assist
  • Vehicle Exit Warning
  • Traffic Sign Assist
  • Active Parking Assist
  • Rearview camera
  • Tire Pressure Loss Warning System
With the Intelligent Drive Package, you also get:
  • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC
  • Active Steering Assist
  • Evasive Steering Assist
  • Active Blind Spot Assist
  • Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function
  • Active Emergency Stop Assist
  • Active Lane Change Assist
  • Active Stop-and-Go Assist
  • Enhanced Stop-and-Go
  • Route-based Speed Adaptation
  • 360 camera
The MB Navigation system uses live imagery from a forward-facing camera and superimposes useful information such as street names, house numbers and guiding arrows on a real-time view of the approaching environment. The augmented reality guidance system is very cool to look at, but I find the guiding arrow appears too close to the intersections sometimes. 

The GLS comes with two drivetrains: the GLS450 that features a 3.0L turbo inline six that delivers 362hp of power, and the GLS580 that features a healthy twin-turbocharged 4.0L V8 that produces 483hp of power. Both of which come with a EQ Boost electric motor. It is basically a beefed up starter-generator 48v hybrid system that can supply up to 21hp of power at 0rpm and recaptures energy during deceleration. 4Matic all-wheel drive system is standard for both models, and it is capable of sending from 0-100% of the engine’s torque to either front or rear axles. Both drivestrains use the same 9-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles, and feature the AIRMATIC electronically controlled air suspension system. The AIRMATIC system provides an ideal balance between ride comfort and handling composure. The driver can also raise or lower vehicle ride height at the push of a button. The GLS comes with a standard trailer hitch, and is capable of towing up to 3500kg (7700lb). The standard Trailer Stability Assist keeps the trailer sway under control. 

Our GLS450 tester goes from 0-100km/hr in about 6.5 seconds, fast for a car this size. The drivetrain is smooth and responsive. At a certain speed you do notice a slight transition between the electric motor and the gasoline engine, but it is subtle. Drivers can choose from four different drive modes: Comfort, Sport, Eco and Offroad. The Offroad mode lifts the vehicle’s suspension so the car can better cope with rough terrains. The GLS impresses with advanced automatic features. It lowers its ride height automatically below 30 km/h in preparation for a passenger drop-off or pickup. The lane keep assist is among the best I have tested. The car stays perfectly at the center of the lane, and is able to automatically change lanes without any human input. 

The GLS450 handles great for such a big car. It is not particularly sporty, but remains composed in corners, and comfortable over bumpy surfaces. Despite the mild hybrid system, the fuel economy of our tester is not great. Our one week city test drive returned a 13.3L/100km fuel economy figure. 

Cargo Space & Storage
There are 355L of cargo space behind the 3rd row seats. The seats can be electrically folded via the buttons in the trunk to increase the cargo space to 2400L. While 2400L is plenty of space for most families, it is smaller than what some rivals offer. 

One feature I appreciate is the ability to store your trunk cover under the trunk floor when you need to maximize cargo space. The cargo floor could be held up with an attached string for easy access to the spare tire below.

In cabin storage options are plenty. They include a large glove compartment, net pockets behind the front seats, a deep center console storage bin, integrated cup holders, and reasonably sized door pockets. 

With the redesign, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS is a modern, luxurious SUV that is capable both on, and offroad. While it is not a head turner in terms of styling, the unparalleled comfort and the amount of technologies it comes with should justify the price tag. It is perfect for a high income family that wants the best of the best without standing out too much.

Test Vehicle
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS450 


$108,190 CAD as tested 

Cavansite Blue 


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