Photos: Mercedes

These days Mercedes-Benz’s naming conventions for crossovers and SUVs follows that of the sedans, which everyone understands pretty well. There’s the GLA, the GLC and the GLE, in that order. That follows that there should be an S-Class of SUVs as well, and this is it: the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS.

The GLS name was first attached to what used to just be called the GL-Class back in 2016. This is the first all-new car to bear that name. As these things go, it’s longer and wider than the car it replaces, and is currently the largest SUV Mercedes makes. It’s built right here in America, too, in Alabama.

Design-wise it’s a bit on the bland side, I think, and to me doesn’t really scream “SUV S-Class.” Then again, this thing competes with the BMW X7, and visually compared to that it’s a damn Jaguar E-Type.

Two models will launch in the U.S.: the GLS 450 4MATIC with a 3.0-liter turbo inline-six (remember, Benz is back to doing those) and the GLS 580 4MATIC, with a twin-turbo V8. The six is rated at 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and the V8 is rated at 483 HP and 516 lb-ft of torque. All GLS models get a nine-speed automatic transmission.

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Both include Mercedes’ 48-volt mild hybrid system (read more about those here) called EQ Boost. That system includes an integrated starter generator to run the E-Active Body Control suspension, the complex electronics and to add a boost in power and torque to the engine.

Here’s how that works when off-roading, from Mercedes:

E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL operates with a voltage of 48 V. On poor road surfaces the system is even able to recuperate energy, roughly halving the energy requirement compared with the preceding system in the S-Class. The hydropneumatics generate dynamic forces that overlay the air suspension forces and actively support and dampen the vehicle body during linear and lateral acceleration or when driving on uneven roads.

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Even cooler is this, which is how it handles winding roads:

E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL in the GLS also has the curve inclination function CURVE: like a motorcycle, the GLS leans into bends and thereby allows cornering in three stages with practically no centrifugal force. If the GLS is equipped with a stereo multi-purpose camera, ROAD SURFACE SCAN becomes possible: the camera continuously scans the road surface, while the suspension responds in advance to any undulations before the vehicle drives over them and largely compensates for them. In this way, the GLS improves the perceived road quality.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but it goes on sale at the end of the year.

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