Mercedes-Benz’s big GL-Class is the latest to
suffer benefit from the company’s reimagined naming convention, as the brand prepares to replace the full-size crossover with a refreshed model called the GLS-Class.
To be fair, all that’s really new here is the name. The exterior is instantly recognizable as Benz’s biggest, and the most notable interior update is the addition of a tablet-style display screen borrowed from other Mercedes models that, at a guess (because Benz doesn’t explicitly say so), is larger than last year’s boxed-in screen.
Indeed, dimensional changes are minimal: the GLS-Class is 10 mm longer than its predecessor, but rides on the same 3,075-mm wheelbase, spans the same 1,934 mm from port to starboard, and once again stands 1,850 mm tall.
In anticipation of this newly-named model, Benz trimmed the GL model range for 2016 to eliminate the turbo V6-powered GL 450, but we expect it will return to the GLS, with ts 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The automaker’s Euro-centric press release says that motor will feature in the across-the-pond lineup (albeit in a de-tuned 333-hp version called the GLS 400), along with a 4.6L turbo V8 in the GLS 550, and a 3.0L turbodiesel good for 258 hp (up from 240) and 457 lb-ft. Atop the range will be the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, with a stonking 5.5L V8 Benz says now makes 585 hp (up from 550) and 561 lb-ft of torque.
Mercedes’ new nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission will be standard in all but the AMG version, which will stick with the seven-speed used in the current model.
As a large SUV built mainly to suit North America’s taste for all things super-sized, Benz will continue to assemble the GLS-Class at its Tuscaloosa, Alabama factory. Mercedes’ Euro-centric press release says deliveries there will begin in March, 2016, but JoAnne Caza of Mercedes-Benz Canada says that while on-sale dates haven’t been confirmed, one GLS variant may go on sale here before then, with the rest scheduled for “early Spring.”