Mercedes-Benz GLS (2019) Review
Mercedes-Benz GLS (2019) At A Glance
The GLS is so enormous that it can’t fail to get you noticed, while there’s enough space in the passenger compartment and boot to deal with the needs of any family, and the generous luxury kit and clever infotainment tech on board will keep everyone entertained. In principle, a very similar car to the BMW X7, which is better on comfort and quality, but still very appealing.
Few companies have embraced the SUV revolution with quite so much enthusiasm as Mercedes-Benz. The company offers no fewer than eight varieties: small ones, big ones, middle-sized ones, cheap ones, pricey ones, hardcore ones, lifestyle ones, coupe ones, you name it.
The GLS, though, is the flagship of them all. Labelled as ‘the S-Class of SUVs’, it’s job is to deliver limousine levels of class, quality, technology and luxury, but with all the desirability, image, practicality and versatility that you’d expect from an SUV.
Good job, then, that it’s absolutely massive. Any car that can make a Volvo XC90 look puny has to be on the chunky side.
Good job, too, that it has a huge seven-seat cabin that's crafted from expensive-feeling materials, and stuffed with luxury equipment and a variety of interesting infotainment technology. Good job, also, that it has a strong, muscular diesel engine that delivers superb mechanical refinement and competitive efficiency. That’s plenty of those boxes checked already.
Unfortunately, the GLS has got one big problem, and it’s called the BMW X7. Both cars are a bang-on match for each other in terms of size, price, appeal, and a whole host of other factors. And although the X7’s nostril-heavy looks might not be to everyone’s taste, anyone who’s experienced the car will know that it’s very, very good. And crucially, it’s better - in a number of ways - than the GLS.
Cabin quality is one of them. Yes, the big Merc feels very posh and lustrous inside, but the BMW’s greater solidity and attention-to-detail means it feels appreciably more dense and substantial. The Merc can’t match the Beemer on the road, either.
It doesn’t ride as comfortably, regardless of your surroundings or speeds, and it feels a good deal more cumbersome in the bends. And in a luxury car, that dynamic polish is essential in creating the right impression of civility and sophistication, and if it’s not there, all the swanky touchscreens in the world can’t make up for it.
There’s also the challenge posed by smaller, cheaper seven-seat SUV choices such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90, both of which are excellent, the Audi especially. Ask yourself: do I really need a car as big as a GLS? For most, the answer will be no.
If you do, then - don’t get us wrong - the GLS is a very strong contender in a lot of ways. Tech-heads, in particular, will love it. However, the X7 is just a better all-rounder, while other excellent cars like the Audi Q7 do a very similar job for considerably less money.