Review: Mercedes-Benz GLS (2013 – 2019)

Rating:

Luxurious and spacious. One of the most comfortable big seven-seat 4x4 SUVs. Outrageous performance from GLS 63 AMG.

Expensive to buy and run. Difficult to park due to its colossal size. You have to pay extra for the off-road system.

Recently Added To This Review

11 June 2019

Numerous faults reported with Mercedes Benz GLS purchased 'new' in March 2019 from MB dealer. On collection there were 4 points of PDI check not complied with. 1. No screen wash: the reservoir was bone... Read more

23 July 2017

MB issued a voluntary recall to apply software upgrades to diesel engines in a bid to cut nitrogen oxide emissions on three million vehicles. All Euro 5 and Euro 6 standard diesel engines registered... Read more

23 November 2012 Specification anounced

The GL 350 BlueTEC AMG Sport, from £59,465 OTR, measures 21 mm longer and 10 mm taller that the model it replaces, and has a boot capacity increased by 60 litres. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions... Read more

Mercedes-Benz GLS (2013 – 2019): At A Glance

Few big seven-seater 4x4 SUVs can match the size or grandeur of the Mercedes-Benz GLS. Designed and built in the USA, the supersized GLS is more than five metres long and sits two meters high. It also weighs a considerable 2.6 tonnes.

The second generation GL was launched in 2013 - and renamed as the GLS in 2015. You’d struggle to tell the GL part from the GLS though - both looking strikingly similar. That said if you look closely you'll see that the GLS gets some minor exterior tweaks, with a more upright front end and integrated LED running lights. The GLS appearance is also bolstered with 18-inch alloys as standard, while the optional wheels go up to 21-inches.

The interior is luxurious and cavernous, with an abundance of leather and aluminium trim. All seven-seats are comfortable and the GLS will easily carry seven adults. Each seat is finished in leather and the third row can be electronically adjusted or folded away. Boot space is 680 litres, but this can be increased to a maximum of 2300 litres, should you fold the second row of seats.

Up front, the GLS gets a vast dashboard, which is similar to the one found in the ML and features a large colour screen in the centre, which is user friendly with most of its functions controlled by the metal dial that's located on the centre console.

The engine line-up is limited to just two options - the 350 BlueTec diesel or the performance-focused 63 AMG. As you’d imagine, the diesel makes up the majority of sales. The 350 BlueTec uses the same direct injection 3.0-litre V6 engine as before, but with improved power. It's now up to 258PS and 620Nm of torque with claimed economy of 35.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 209g/km.

The GLS 63 AMG has the 5461cc twin turbo V8 (not the 6200cc AMG V8), delivering 557PS and 760Nm torque. Combined economy is 23mpg (though you'll only see this cruising at 70mph on a motorway), and emissions are 288g/km.

On the road the standard GLS 350 on 18-inch wheels is a quiet and refined seven-seater, but lacks any meaningful engagement, with numb steering and a choppy ride in windy conditions. The GLS also suffers from bodyroll, but this can be partly eliminated with the optional Active Curve system, with adjustable anti-roll bars.

The GLS 63 AMG on 21-inch wheels and tyres is an entirely different vehicle to drive, delivering massive performance and offering enormous pleasure, providing you are prepared to meet the fuel bills.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 350 d 2016 Road Test

What does a Mercedes-Benz GLS (2013 – 2019) cost?

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Mercedes-Benz GLS (2013 – 2019): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 5120–5162 mm
Width 2141 mm
Height 1850 mm
Wheelbase 3075 mm

Full specifications

The interior of the GLS is modern, luxurious and cavernous. Over the past few years Mercedes-Benz has worked hard to improve its cabin architecture and the GL and GLS clearly benefit from this, with excellent build quality and a good, solid feel throughout.

All versions will easily accommodate seven adults; the front and second row of seats are comfortable, with deep leather cushioning and excellent back and upper leg support. The third row of seats are also suitable for long(ish) journeys, with electric adjustment and an optional motorised Easy-Entry system that makes it simple to get in and out.

Up front the driver gets a commanding view of the road, with good all round vision thanks to a huge windscreen and a pair of large wing mirrors. The dashboard is almost identical to the one found in the ML-Class, which means it is clear and easy to understand. The majority of the controls for the infotainment system are found in the centre console.

The centre console is dominated by seven-inch colour display, which is controlled by a metal dial controller on the centre console. The GLS gets a decent amount of infotainment kit as standard, with Bluetooth, navigation, DAB and iPod connectivity. The display for the parking camera is also shown on the colour screen and a 360° camera is available as a paid for option, should you need help to manoeuvre the GLS through tight spaces.

The lower centre console houses the controls for the GLS’s off-road systems, which are all clearly labelled and simple to understand. There’s also a leather armrest situated between the two front seats and a large storage compartment, which is ideal for hiding valuables. In fact, the GL is never short on storage, with a plethora of cubby holes, cup holders and pockets. Just be sure to remember where you’ve stored your stuff, because it’s easy to lose items in the vast interior.

If you spec up to AMG trim then the GLS gets more kit, with sport seats, AMG performance steering wheel and a dusting of racing decals. Mercedes-Benz also offers a number of options to spruce up the interior, with ambient lighting, sun blinds and multi-contour seats with a massage function. 

Standard equipment levels: 

GLS 350 BlueTec gets 21-inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting on underside of door mirrors, electric glass sunroof, xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights, Active Light System, cornering light function, headlamp wash and Adaptive High Beam Assist, LED rear tail lights, automatic climate control, leather seats, Easy-Entry system - third seat row, left and right, metallic paint, Bluetooth and the COMAND Online system with Media Interface.

GLS 63 AMG comes with AMG bodystyling – front apron, rear apron, side skirts and flared wheel arches, brushed stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs, sports exhaust system with two chromed twin tailpipes, high-performance braking system with silver-painted brake calipers, AMG floor mats, AMG instrument cluster with animated start-up sequence and AMG main menu, AMG Performance steering wheel – 4-spoke multi-function, trimmed in nappa leather with perforated grip areas, flattened bottom section and silver-coloured gear shift paddles.

Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz GLS (2013 – 2019)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Mercedes-Benz GLS (2013 – 2019) like to drive?

The Mercedes-Benz GLS is offered with two engines, the 350 BlueTec diesel or the performance-focused 63 AMG petrol, with the former making up the majority of sales. The diesel engine is almost identical to the unit found in the previous generation GL, but returns improved power with 258PS and 620Nm of torque. The 350 is also better on economy compared, with a claimed 35.3mpg and 209g/km of CO2.

For the most part, the V6 diesel works well, with sufficient pace and refined running. For sure, it's a little sluggish from the off, but it pulls well enough through the gears and has a quiet and refined operation. The V6 is linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission, which can also be operated manually via the steering wheel mounted paddles. However, in both modes, the gear changes are smooth and the gearbox seems to know which gear it needs when running in full auto, although like the engine it can be a little sluggish from a standstill.

The 63 AMG petrol takes things to another level, with a supercar rivalling 557PS and 760Nm of torque. As a result, the GLS will rocket to 62mph in under five seconds and be good for an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. To cope with the volcanic output, the V8 is linked to a seven-speed AMG sport auto ‘box, which lets the driver snap through the gears at a rapid rate. Unfortunately that power comes at a price, with fuel economy claimed at 23mpg. In real world driving, that figure will be closer to 13mpg. 

Both the diesel and petrol versions are geared up for light off roading, with permanent four-wheel drive and adjustable air suspension, which lets the driver adjust the damping to suit the road surface. Diesel models can also be fitted with an optional off road package that lets the driver tailor the car’s set-up to tackle mud, sand, snow and towing. Admittedly, few drivers will use their cars for the rough stuff, but both the GL and GLS are competent off roaders.

Unfortunately on the open road, the GLS 350 BlueTec disappoints a little with numb steering and an abundance of bodyroll. Designed and built in the USA, the GLS stretches five metres in length and sits two metres high, which means it feels extremely large and unsuitable for UK roads. As a results, it is difficult to park and cumbersome to drive around town. The in-built reversing camera does help things somewhat, but the gargantuan dimensions result in constant problems, with many urban roads simply being too small.

The GLS 350 doesn't really improve out of town, with overpowered steering and a choppy ride in windy conditions. The ride can be improved by fitting the optional antiroll bars, but the GLS 350 never returns any meaningful engagement and as a result isn't enjoyable to drive. 

If you can afford the fuel and find some open roads, the GLS 63 AMG will put a grin on your face from ear to ear as long as you avoid scaring yourself silly. The commanding driving position helps and, though you are aware of the danger of propelling 2.6 tonnes at huge speeds, especially when braking into unknown corners, the car is very stable and obedient. 

Acceleration is extremely strong. And the AMG Drivers Pack lifts the top speed to 168mph, though that would probably be foolhardy, even on the autobahn. Ride is excellent, despite comparatively low profile 295/40 ZR 21 Continental tyres all round.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
GL 350 BlueTec 36 mpg 7.9 s 205 g/km
GL 350 CDI 36 mpg 7.9 s 209 g/km
GL 500 BlueEfficiency - 5.4 s -
GL 63 AMG 23 mpg 4.9 s 288 g/km
GLS 350 d 35–37 mpg 7.8 s 199–203 g/km
GLS 400 26 mpg 6.6 s 248 g/km
GLS 63 AMG 20 mpg 4.6 s 288 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz GLS (2013 – 2019)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

79%

Real MPG

25–33 mpg

MPGs submitted

11

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Mercedes-Benz GLS (2013 – 2019)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Which car do you recommend for towing a horsebox and carrying four children?

I have a 2005 petrol 2.4-litre Volvo XC90 with 60,000 on the clock. My dear wife recently put a tow bar on it to pull the recently-acquired two horses and trailer. When both are loaded I am concerned it doesn't have the power to tow comfortably. We need a minimum 6-seater as she decided that four children were necessary to make our life complete. All are now big enough to argue that the rear seats do not have enough legroom for them, as they have inexplicably grown taller after eating me out of house and home. Could you advise something that would satisfy both horses and children?
You need something capable of pulling 3500kg. It will probably have to be a Land Rover Discovery 4 3.0V6 diesel or a Mercedes GL 320CDI or 420CDI. Unfortunately, access to the rearmost seats in the 2006-2013 GL is from the wrong side.
Answered by Honest John
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