By Asian Journal Auto Editor

The Mercedes-Benz GLS450 sits at the very top of the Mercedes-Benz SUV lineup. Imposing, dramatic and looking every inch the Teutonic, expensive, luxurious seven – seater it is. The GLS450 is all that and more. The 2020 model year brings in a re-engineered platform, new engine power and more updated technology on the inside. In terms of exterior styling, our dark Canvasite Blue GLS 450 tester looked stunning with a twin-bar grille, big wheels and subtle touches of chrome that set off the nice planted stance.

The GLS 450 is powered by 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six engine equipped with the latest 48-volt mild hybrid system, known as EQ Boost that adds a 21-hp/184-lb.ft electric motor. Power is rated at 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque.  The transmission is via Mercedes 4MATIC nine-speed automatic gearbox with All Wheel Drive.  The GLS 450 ain’t cheap! Pricing starts at a$93,500 base. Standard features include: PRESAFE, Blind Spot Assist, MBUX user interface, surround camera system, Intelligent LED headlights with Highbeam assist, power sunroof, remote start, KEYLESS-GO, heated front seats, Active Parking Assist, wireless charging, SiriusXM radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 9 USB ports and a 12.3 media touchscreen. On our tester, options such as: a $5,100 Premium Package, $2,400 Sport Package, $3,000 Intelligent Drive package and a few other options raised the price to $106,690 plus freight pdi and taxes.

Inside the GLS450 you are greeted by massive interior with space for seven adults and all their cargo. The sumptuous cabin is layered in fine materials, it is a Mercedes after all, so high quality materials and incredible fit and finish is standard. Butter soft leather with contrast stitching covers the seats, dash and door panels, thoughtful chrome brushed metal and the wonderful perforated aluminum Burmester audio speaker grilles adorn the doors. However, the jet engine turbine air vents found in other Mercedes Benz are replaced by rectangular chrome units.  The fully digital dash is also a work of art with its pin sharp graphics and super bright dials. Technology is high. For me, the most impressive feature is Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system – a voice activated system that can carry out a wide range of functions. Using a simple “Hey Mercedes” command, you can change radio channels, alter cabin temperature ask for the weather forecast, the nearest restaurant or fuel stop. The MBUX operates seamlessly. Other highlights include an infotainment screen that can be accessed by one of three ways: via touch, a centralized control pad or thumb controls on the steering wheel.

In terms of comfort the front seats are infinitely adjustable and also come with an available massaging feature that is just superb.  The middle row seats also feature heating, and ventilation, as well as independent HVAC controls. The GLS third-row seating is a little cramped and hard to access by adults, but you do get cupholders and USB ports back there. Electrically folding rear seats allows for 2,400 litres of cargo.

On the road; the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 offers a fine driving experience with the mild hybrid system allowing for smooth acceleration. The transition to gasoline engine being seamless. Don’t expect dramatic acceleration as the 3.0 liter engine has a considerable amount of weight to pull, but with  362 hp and 369 lb-ft. it offers a steady, amount of thrust once it’s up to speed and the nine- speed automatic gearbox does it job. While big and heavy, body roll is well controlled on the corners. The GLS also offers a couple of drive modes for different conditions that work by altering things like shift  parameters, suspension settings  and traction control system. Comfort mode offers a mix of smooth suspension setting, while Sport mode tightens up things for more control. There is an Eco mode for more fuel efficiency while Off-road mode raises the suspension for rougher terrain. Generally, the GLS450 offers a smooth ride even over the most potholed of road surfaces with its pliable suspension.

The GLS450 offers great visibility, a high driving position and is a very comfortable SUV to drive with a satisfying feel of solidity and stability. It’s an excellent vehicle for long distance touring. The new GLS can tow a large boat or trailer with its maximum towing ratings ranging from 7,716 lb (3,500 kg) when properly equipped. Fuel economy is rated at: 11.2 combined /12.3 city /10.2l/100 km highway.

Not much too complain about, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS is a magnificent beast with its vault like feeling of safety, a luxurious interior and feature rich specification. The price is of course a drawback for us mere mortals, but we can always dream!

2020 Mercedes Benz GKS450 priced from $93,500 ($108.690 as tested)

Website: Mercedes-Benzes