Luxury utes are hot sellers these days. Dealers can’t get them on their lots fast enough — and enjoy the profits from the big sticker prices that come with them.
Every maker is offering a full slate of large luxe SUVs, especially Mercedes-Benz.
The “Big Benz” SUV delivers heaping helpings of luxury, power and sheer capability. In other words, it’s exactly what you’d expect the S Class Mercedes to be, if it were a sport-utility vehicle. And, basically, that’s exactly what we have here.
All-wheel drive and an adjustable air suspension system are standard. The engine is backed by an electric motor. And its comfort and convenience features go beyond the wildest desires of even the most avowed hedonist.
One of the most distinctive styling elements of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 is the grille. The three-pointed star is framed by a pair of louvers with six apertures, three on each side of the logo. Finished in what Mercedes refers to as Silver Shadow, they telegraph the premium nature of the vehicle quite clearly and succinctly. When you see this grille in your rearview mirror; you know it’s attached to something expensive.
The large air intakes in the front bumper say a powerful engine is lurking there as well. The skid plate on my tester was rendered in black, which made it seem to disappear. The black roof and rails, a definitive contrast to the Polar White paint, further slimmed the look of the GLS, which is actually a quite large automobile. These elements were punctuated by a body-colored roof-mounted spoiler, which held court over the elegantly styled rear end.
Taken in total, the 2023 GLS 580 looks fast, sleek and graceful.
Capable of comfortably seating up to seven people (six with the optional captain’s chairs), the GLS 580 offers three rows of accommodations. While generously apportioned to the first and second rows, passenger space in the third row is acceptable, if not exactly coveted by grownups. Running boards help make ingress and egress easier to accomplish.
The cockpit’s layout is familiar to anyone who has experienced the interior of a contemporary Mercedes model, particularly that of the new GLE, which it mimics closely. The materials employed, as well as the overall design, are first rate. Looking around the vehicle, you’ll never wonder where your money went when you’re at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz GLS 580.
The GLS 580’s twin turbocharged 4.0-liter DOHC V-8 is supplemented with an electric motor to generate a total system output of 483 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. A 9-speed automatic transmission directs engine output to all four wheels. The electric motor is situated between the between the transmission and the engine output shaft. Replacing the alternator and the starter, this motor also drives the A/C and water pumps without belts.
Given there are a pair of turbochargers and an electric motor in play, you might expect the Benz to deliver exceptional fuel economy. The EPA quotes 18 combined, 16 in the city and 21 on the highway. I averaged 20, though I took it on a long-ish road trip. This isn’t terrible for a vehicle this size, but nobody’s going to call the GLS 580 economical either.
On the other hand, the powertrain also makes the GLS faster than anything this size might be expected to be. I saw 5-second runs to 60. Moreover, the GLS 580 can tow 7,000 pounds and support a 390-pound tongue weight.
Safety and Technology
A pair of 12.3-inch digital displays, mounted in a 25-inch frame, gives the appearance of a single panel. The instrumentation monitor is reconfigurable in a multitude of ways, while the features of the Mercedes-Benz MBUX platform can be employed using its touch-sensitive counterpart. MBUX functions can also be accessed using a pad on the center console, or by voice command.
Key comfort and convenience features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, along with in-dash navigation and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot — all standard equipment. The base audio offering is a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system. Alternatively, you can opt for Burmester’s 3D audio system with 26 speakers.
The list of safety features reads like a what’s-what of contemporary driver’s assistance technology. Among the more distinctive inclusions are crosswind stabilization, active parking assist, active braking assist, lane-keeping assist, active steering assist with a lane-change function, evasive steering assist, route-based speed adaptation, active body control, traffic sign assist and on, and on and on ….
Light on its feet and eager to change directions when called upon to do so, the GLS 580 “drives” much smaller than it actually is. I’d also anticipated a rough-ish ride from the 23 (yes, TWENTY-THREE!) inch wheels, but the air suspension system negated that concern. It also gave the big Benz the ability to corner with minimal body roll, especially when sport mode was engaged.
The engine, under full throttle, sounds absolutely magnificent — even as it effortlessly sets the huge SUV into motion. Remarkably, despite having so much power underfoot, throttle response was exceptionally accurate. A light foot on the throttle in situations requiring precision of movement from the big SUV returned the exact degree of motion desired.
In a similar fashion, the brakes proved Herculean in their ability to arrest the Benz’s forward momentum, while the steering felt near telepathic. Again, given the sheer size of the GLS 580, its responsiveness was nothing less than extraordinary.
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 4Matic Specifications
|Dimensions||L: 205.2 inches/W: 79.9 inches/H: 71.8 inches/Wheelbase: 123.4 inches|
|Powertrain||4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, electric motor; 9-speed automatic, AWD|
|Fuel Economy||16 mpg city/21 mpg highway/18 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $105,000; As tested: $116,865 including $1,150 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Reportedly, the product planners at Mercedes, having grown weary of hearing about customers who also had Chevy Suburbans, decided to create a “Suburban” of their own. Thus the Mercedes GL was introduced in 2006.
Now known as the GLS, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLS580 4Matic is powerful, capacious, fast and competent in offroad situations. Moreover, it’s handsome, luxurious, understated and enjoys considerable presence. Yes, it’s also pricey, but it’s certainly worthy of consideration if you have the means.
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 4Matic — Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Mercedes-Benz GLS class reliable?
According to U.S News & World Report, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLS has a predicted reliability score of 75 out of 100.
Is a Mercedes GLS expensive to maintain?
Based upon a report by Car Edge, the maintenance schedule and costs site, a Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class will cost about $15,726 for maintenance and repairs during its first 10 years of service. This is more than the industry average for luxury SUV models by $12.
How many miles can a Mercedes GLS last?
Without severe mechanical concerns, even older Mercedes can provide good service above the 250,000-mile range.