2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 Review: Beautiful, stylish, and mediocre all at the same time

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 is the base model.

There’s no two ways around it. The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS is beautiful to be in, stylish to be seen in, and a mediocre drive experience. Mercedes redesigned the GLS for the 2020 model year and while it ups the ante in so many ways, the three-row SUV proves unsatisfying to drive.

The looks of the GLS are expected and deliver a fresh take on the last-generation’s body design that keeps the model in line with the current design language of the brand. It looks like the GLB’s big brother (or is it that the GLB looks like it’s little brother) and that’s mostly a good thing.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450
The model wears a two-bar grille with a giant Mercedes star in the center.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The model tested wore a handsome Emerald Green paint job and base model double-bar Mercedes grille. Frankly, the silver elements (the bar and large star emblem) appear cheap. It looks like the bubble letters version of a grille and doesn’t portray the strength or elegance one associates with a $75,000+ vehicle.

As tested, the GLS 450 is powered by a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with mild-hybrid EQ Boost technology. The 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque numbers are deceiving. The GLS is heavy and while getting it up to speed isn’t a chore, there’s just no oomph from the powertrain, though the nine-speed automatic transmission makes sure that it’s a smooth operation.

Changing to the Sport drive mode, the engagement picks up, but still makes makes you long for a vehicle with more of a sense of immediacy.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450
The GLS retains its profile despite having a redesign for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Steering the GLS feels like it could be done with a pinky – almost too light for its size. The GLS parks easily but forward visibility isn’t great for shorter drivers, especially when traversing rolling hills on more rural roads.

The interior of the GLS is as expected, but that’s a good thing. It’s truly luxurious. The tester was equipped with real wood trim that wasn’t heavily lacquered and just looked expensive.

The climate controls are easy to use despite their minimalistic design. One large housing joins the driver information and infotainment screens with ease. Their design is attractive and the system easily performs most tasks. However, the touch controller on the center console isn’t an ideal solution for most any function.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450
The new GLS has a dashboard influenced by Mercedes sedan design.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The GLS is as much about the passengers as it is the driver. All seats are comfortable. For second-row passengers, it’s nearly business class style seating that will make traveling with kids much less of a headache for parents.

Small item storage and cargo space is good. Using the GLS as a daily driver won’t feel too limiting to the average family unless they’re transporting a large amount of sports equipment and musical instruments to and fro at the same time.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450
The car’s touch pad controller for the infotainment screen is not easy enough to use that it doesn’t create headaches.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLS wins when it comes to a luxurious interior, but its powertrain makes a strong argument for opting for the AMG version, though it’s a hefty $25,000 more. The GLS is better sit in than its closest competitor, the BMW X7, which is similarly powertrained and priced, and has three rows of seating. If you don’t want to spend $100,000 for the Mercedes-AMG version of the GLS, consider the Land Rover Range Rover, which starts around $90,000.

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