2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS Preview
- Larger than outgoing model with longer wheelbase (+2.4 inches)
- Uses Mercedes Modular High Architecture
- Improved aerodynamics
- New available V-8 engine with EQ Boost
- Standard 4Matic all-wheel drive
- Available 5-zone automatic climate control
- Versatile seating options
- On sale in late 2019
Debuting at the 2019 New York International Auto Show, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS showcased an expanded interior and a series of premium upgrades, which is no small feat considering the GLS has consistently been one of the most luxurious 3-row SUVs on the market. Mercedes likens the new GLS to the S-Class, the automaker’s extravagant flagship sedan that is packed with comfort, convenience, and technology features in every corner.
The 2020 model year marks the beginning of the third generation for the GLS, bringing with it a brand-new body style, more interior space, and a range of standard and available technologies to improve power, entertainment, and comfort for drivers and passengers. The GLS is marked for sale toward the end of 2019.
Although the GLS has always been on the larger side, for 2020 it comes with even bigger dimensions. Built upon the Mercedes Modular High Architecture, which it shares with the GLE Crossover, the new GLS gains 2.4 inches in wheelbase length.
The exterior design of the 2020 GLS is noticeably different, with its large front grille and bold hood, subdued side panels, and a somewhat boxy rear end. A unique headlight design houses multi-beam LED lights and the taillights get chrome accents.
The redesign is more than just for show; Mercedes-Benz lauds it as giving the SUV better aerodynamics and reduced wind noise, mostly in part to its improved underbody flow and high ground clearance.
The second row is where passengers in the new GLS will see the most significant difference, thanks to the added interior space made possible by the longer wheelbase. The increase in wheelbase combined with versatile seating designs makes for a roomier feel all around.
Mercedes-Benz gives the new GLS standard seating for up to seven, but owners can swap the second-row bench seat for two captain’s chairs, thus sacrificing one seating position but allowing for more space and easier access to the third row. For additional cargo space, the third-row seats fold into the floor and the second-row seats fold flat, all with one-touch features to make the process as quick and simple as possible.
The 2020 GLS comes standard with tri-zone automatic climate control, while 4- and 5-zone are available on upper trim levels. The base model will also get the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system with two 12.3-in. screens with voice- and hand gesture-recognition. Heated front seats, second-row reclining seats, and USB charging ports are a few other features that will be included in each new GLS.
While the complete model lineup for the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS has yet to be announced (currently, only GLS 450 and GLS 580 versions have been disclosed), it’s clear that the automaker is saving some of its best features and equipment for the upper trim or trims, although the base model certainly won’t be lacking in luxury.
Available add-ons include the aforementioned second-row captain’s chairs, E-Active Body Control suspension, and 4- and 5-zone automatic climate control.
A Driver Assistance package can add Active Stop and Go Assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and other important driver-focused technologies. An Executive Rear Seat package boosts entertainment and comfort with rear-seat tablets, seat cushions, headrests, a center console that’s easily accessible from both rows, and wireless phone charging. By adding the Plus option to this package, passengers get lumbar massaging seats and more climate controls.
Under the Hood
The new GLS will feature one of two powertrains. Standard on the GLS 450 is a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine producing 362 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. An upper-tier GLS 580 will include a turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 with 483 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. Both are mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and come standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive.
Optional on the GLS 580 is a low-range transfer case that adds torque-on-demand and reduced gears for those who seek off-road adventure. Also, the 2020 GLS gets a standard air suspension that continuously senses the conditions of the road and adjusts as necessary for a smoother, more secure ride.
The new GLS comes with a variety of standard and available driver-assistance technologies, including Active Stop and Go Assist, which helps keep the vehicle in its lane while driving a safe distance behind other cars. Active Distance Assist Distronic and traffic sign detection will also be a part of this driver-assistance suite.
One of the features added to the GLS for 2020 is aimed at making car washes easier than ever. When activated, the Carwash function automatically folds in the side mirrors, activates a front camera to ensure the driver’s visibility inside the carwash, stops rain-sensing wipers from activating, closes the windows and sunroof, and deactivates the setting upon reaching 12 mph. The suspension also adjusts to its highest position for optimal wheel cleaning.
The MBUX system has been updated for the new model year to offer drivers convenient controls right at their fingertips. Two 12.3-in. touch screens provide drivers with driving information as well as access to climate, comfort, audio controls, and more. With the Executive Rear Seat package, passengers in the rear seats can also access the MBUX system with a 7-in. Android tablet.
Popular on NADAguidesMost Dependable Trucks: 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study
Most Dependable Family SUVs: 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study
10 Most Popular Midsize SUVs and Crossovers
Most Reliable Crossovers and SUVs in 2017
Most Reliable Luxury Crossovers and SUVs Under $60,000 in 2017