When I saw the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS450+ in person, I laughed out loud, the same way I’d laugh at an ugly-cute goofy pug with a silly face and a perpetually stuck-out tongue. What on earth is this? Why do you look like that, huh? Aw, such a cutie!
The EQS450+ was my first experience with a Mercedes-Benz, and it was certainly a confounding one. I had a great time. I was also confused. I loved it but had no desire to ever own it or be seen driving it on a daily basis. It’s the kind of vehicle that requires you to see the reflection of beauty through a not-so-beautiful veneer — and honestly, I love that for the EQS.
Full Disclosure: Mercedes provided the EQS450+ to A Girls Guide to Cars during our three-day test drive of multiple vehicles. I got a chance to take it for a short spin. All opinions are my own.
The all-new EQS is Mercedes’ first effort at using a platform exclusively designed for electric models, and it’s also the first fully-electric vehicle from the brand’s EQ line to make it over here to North America.
I drove the Pinnacle trim of the Mercedes-Benz EQS450+ during my test drive. The standard model includes the following features:
- $102,310 starting price
- 329 horsepower and 419 lb-ft of torque
- One motor, rear-wheel drive
- Adaptive air suspension and rear-wheel steering
- 107.8 kWh usable battery capacity
- 350 miles EPA-estimated range
- 0.20 drag coefficient
- 70 percent charge in 35 minutes with a DC fast charger
- 11 hours and 15 minute charge for Level 2 charger
The model I drove also added:
- The 56-inch curved Hyperscreen ($7,230)
- Augmented reality head-up display ($2,000)
- Exclusive Trim ($1,575) that added things like massaging seats, four-zone climate control, and an in-dash climate menu
There’s also a much more powerful EQS580 trim if you want its 516 horsepower and 611 lb-ft of torque. Its $120,000 starting price is also much higher.
The Mercedes-AMG EQS 450+ is kind of cute in an ugly way, like how you look at a porpoise and think, “That is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.” That largely comes down to two descriptors I can only think to describe as Long and Round.
You’ll probably hear some reviewers talk about sleek lines or futuristic curves that cut through the air with excellent aerodynamic efficiency. Not me. This car is goofy-looking as hell from the outside, and I absolutely adore it for that reason. It’s not sexy. It’s not pretty. It’s not really classy. It’s a shapely blob, for which I am sure there is a market.
But that shapely blobbiness is great for anyone who spends their time inside this car. The 126.4-inch wheelbase makes for a spacious interior where rear-seat passengers will luxuriate in plenty of arm and legroom. It’s also comfortable for a shorter driver like myself, which can be a difficult feat for a larger sedan.
It’s ultra luxurious, reminiscent of the standard S-Class sedan in the sense that you can climb behind the wheel and feel right at home — as long as your home features headrest pillows, ambient lighting, massaging leather seats, and a near-executive rear seat.
The strangest part, though, was climbing in and being surrounded by screens. I’ll talk more about the tech below, but the Wall Of Screen was a serious contrast to what was otherwise a warm and comfortable interior. The addition of mega-screens makes the EQS feel cold and utilitarian inside. That’s fine if that’s the vibe you’re going for — a lot of automakers think ‘electric’ must equal ‘spartan and modern’ — but it just didn’t work for me. That’s an aesthetic you have to commit to all the way through the interior of the car, and that’s not what happened here.
I can’t give you many comparisons here. This was my first time driving a Mercedes, so I can’t compare the EQS to a combustion-engined S-Class. I also can’t compare it to its Tesla or Lucid competitors in the EV world. I can only give you my vacuum impressions. You may do with them what you will.
That being said, the drive in the Mercedes-Benz EQS450+ was delicious. There’s an exceptional blend of power and lightness that makes for a really unique experience behind the wheel. If you’re cruising on the highway or through a subdivision, you’ll feel like you’re floating on a magic carpet. The Benz absorbs all the bumps, and its near-silent cabin creates a feeling of isolation. It’s just you, hovering around through the world.
But if you’re taking a sharp turn or accelerating, the EQS450+ really highlights where EVs shine. All that torque goes immediately to the wheels, so all your throttle inputs will be instantaneous. It’s a really satisfying feeling that reminds me of the days when I used to go for long-distance runs, where I’d hit mile five and find this groove where I felt powerful, like every step I took was propelling me through the world both physically and metaphorically. I felt grounded.
The transition between floating and settling down into the pavement isn’t jarring, either. You can feel the Benz hunker down and make the most of that minimal drag coefficient as you press the throttle. It’s an incredible experience.
Because of its length and weight, the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ feels a lot more like an SUV than it does a sedan. It’s not cumbersome to drive or park, but you can never shake the sense that you’re driving an absolutely massive piece of machinery. It reminded me of a more tech-heavy version of my 1996 Suburban than it does a traditional sedan — but that’s probably not a terrible thing for a market that wants Really Big Vehicles.
The electric motor provides instant torque, and you’ll get 10-degree rear-axle steering, so this car doesn’t handle like an SUV in certain ways. You can swing into a tight space at the grocery store no problem. You can jump from start instantly. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had a formidable yacht around me, an absolute beast of the sea. It was heavy, though not impossible to maneuver. It was large but not impossible to drive. It’s all those Large Parts of an SUV without the higher hip height. It makes for a bit of a strange driving experience.
My husband used to be a sales associate at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Montreal, and he’s spent the entire duration of our marriage telling me that no automaker is as luxuriously high-tech as Mercedes. I have never discounted this observation. I’ve just also never felt the need to drive an extremely tech-heavy car. I still have a hard time dealing with a tiny infotainment screen.
So I think it’s probably a little bit of an understatement to say that the EQS’s offerings are a bit overwhelming. After I laughed out loud at the exterior, I also laughed out loud at the absolutely massive Hyperscreen. I wanted to ask it if it was compensating for something. I wanted to ask why such a cute fella needs such a big screen.
Functionally, the Hyperscreen is great. A single piece of curved glass, it’s a gorgeous feat of technological innovation that works with rapid speed due to an eight-core processor and 24 gigabytes of RAM. You tap on anything, and there’s not going to be lag. You’re immediately transported to the place you chose to go in the infotainment system.
The graphics are also gorgeous, but again, it’s a little bit Much. There’s a screen for the driver, one of the passenger, and a tall screen in the center, and in those latter two, you can access everything from radio controls to vehicle settings to satellite maps to photo galleries to video games. I did poke around the Tetris game and found it took a while to load but was otherwise fun. I still can’t imagine myself using an infotainment screen instead of my phone for gaming, though.
Even worse, you still get a lot of glare, despite the fact that Mercedes tried its best to avoid that. There’s not really anything you’re going to be able to do about the reflection of the sun when it’s especially bright.
You can also navigate with conversational commands after saying, “Hey Mercedes.” As in, you can say something like, “Hey Mercedes, I want coffee,” and your car will find you the nearest coffee spots. I used to hate voice commands because it was next to impossible to actually get what you were asking for, but this modern iteration that you see on luxury cars has really changed the game. I don’t have to think up the robotic command I’d need to change the radio station. I can just say it.
The digital dashboard was also one hell of a feature. You can cycle through tons of different displays, most of which are just mind boggling. You can literally have your navigation map displayed on your dashboard — and I don’t mean you get a little box that has navigation. The whole screen turns into a map. I’m sure some folks will enjoy it, but it was massively overwhelming for me.
As was the augmented reality navigation, which feels a little bit more video game-y than anything else. Maybe I’m just too old to appreciate these things.
It’s difficult to offer a verdict for a car that I can’t compare to the other vehicles in its class, I can say that the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS450+ is a delightful vehicle that transforms much of what makes Mercedes special into a flagship luxury sedan — but it does feel like the German automaker couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. It tried to combine modern austerity with Benz’s traditional elegance, and it works... but it’s probably not going to work for everyone. It didn’t work for me, but it could very well work for you. And you know what? I respect a delightfully polarizing car.