I recently waxed poetic about the interior of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. In short, it’s a class above the rest, simply because of the craftsmanship lessons Mercedes learned from its flagship S-Class. The new GLS-Class SUV doesn’t have an interior like this. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal – adding “S” to the “GL” name is a marketing move to better tie Merc’s largest SUV to its S-Class sedan. But it’s more than just a letter; “S” adds a whole lot of responsibility in the world of Mercedes-Benz.
Let me be clear: The GLS is a damn good product. It’s supremely luxurious and immensely capable. An while it’s not quite a luxury behemoth worthy of an S-Class name – that’s probably in the works, by the way – it’s still the best thing you can get this side of a Bentley Bentayga. And that’s just fine with me.
What you’re looking at here is essentially a midcycle refresh of the existing GL, with some heavy massaging done to the exterior styling, interior design, and some mechanicals. Outside, the front fascia has a more upright appearance, with a wider grille that pushes the redesigned headlights farther out to the sides. Around back, there’s a new bumper and LED taillamps. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, though I do like the Sport exterior pictured here, only available on the GLS550. It comes with larger front air intakes and a tweaked rear apron, not to mention 21-inch AMG wheels. Certain elements like the mirrors and lower lip are blacked out with the addition of the Night pack, also seen here.
Because this isn’t a clean-slate refresh, many of the SUV’s interior bits carry over unchanged. No, it doesn’t have the ultra-premium feel of an S-Class, but every surface is still wrapped in fine leather, the hard plastics genuinely feel premium, and on the go, road and wind noise are pretty much unnoticeable.
Older bits like the HVAC controls at the bottom of the center stack and the old-style phone keypad above give away the GLS’ age, but there’s still plenty to boast about inside. The eight-inch infotainment screen houses all the latest COMAND features, controlled by the touchpad on the center console or redundant rotary knob. Compared to what you find in the Cadillac Escalade or Land Rover Range Rover, COMAND easily wins in terms of ease of use and the overall level of functionality. There’s still seating for seven, with a two-place third row that folds into the floor electronically via buttons in the cargo bay, and with everything folded flat, there’s a massive 93.8 cubic feet of cargo room. The GLS is a big girl, after all.