Standard conveniences include things like dual-zone automatic climate control, 360-degree rearview camera, power-operated heated front seats with memory, power-folding third-row seats, satellite radio, Bluetooth wireless audio streaming, Apple CarPlay, navigation, Mercedes-Benz COMAND online apps, and much more. Indeed I could go on listing the standard features for quite some time, but suffice to say it’s enough to create an interior environment that’s very nearly perfect (but not quite perfect – I found the A-pillars to be rather obstructive, I still don’t like the Mercedes-Benz twist-to-operate wiper control, there aren’t enough USB outlets, and the infotainment interface, while reasonably intuitive, is rather complicated, requiring six steps to change the seat massage settings, for example).
Then there’s the available packages, which allow you to load up your GLS with enough equipment to make it truly worthy of an S-Class sedan, both in terms of luxury and safety. My test vehicle was fitted with many of these. First up was the Premium package, which includes multicontour front seats with massage, soft-close doors, heated rear seats, climate-controlled cupholders, panoramic sunroof, “Easy Entry” power tilt for the second-row seats (you have to redeploy them manually, however, and it takes a bit of grunt), fantastic-sounding Harman Kardon Logic7 surround sound system, roller blinds for rear side windows, and power pop-out third-row windows.
Next up was the Intelligent Drive Package, which adds on a regular alphabet soup of active safety systems including Distronic Plus with steering assist (I’ve no idea what it stands for, but it incorporates active cruise control), active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist, Pre-Safe Plus for rear-end collision (I’ll hazard a guess that this helps prevent rather than cause said collisions), BAS Plus with cross-traffic assist (the BAS stands for Braking Assist System), Pre-Safe Brake autonomous emergency braking and something called CMS Rear (I think this means “cross-traffic monitoring system rear”).
Finally there was the Sport Package with Adaptive Damping System Plus, the Night Package appearance package (blackout mirrors, blackout trim, and unique AMG wheels), and an Air Balance package, which allows the interior of the vehicle to be scented with your choice of four different fragrances. I kid you not.
4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance
Pricing for all this comfort, luxury, and technology starts at $82,900, which puts the Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 on solid footing against rivals like the Cadillac Escalade (starting at $84,145), Lexus LX 570 (starting at $105,000) and Infiniti QX80 (starting at $74,650). Where the Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 stands out is in its conservative good looks, exceptionally refined driving experience, accommodating third-row seating, and comprehensive array of available driving assist features. If a big luxury SUV is on your shopping list, it’s a must-see benchmark contender.
Pricing: 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450
Base price: $82,900
Options: $11,800 (Premium Package $4,900, Sport Package $3,200, Intelligent Drive Package $2,700, Night Package $500, Air Balance Package $250, Open-pore Ash Wood Trim $250)
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $97,295