When the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads charged towards Promontory, Utah, in 1869 to hammer the golden spike that may open up North America’s first transcontinental hyperlink, that they had no thought how rapidly they’d change the world. What as soon as took an agonizing six months to journey, unreliably, by ship from New York to San Francisco now took simply 5 days.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class gained’t make freeway jaunts any sooner than some other SUV—there are velocity limits to heed, in spite of everything—however it civilizes the street like few vehicles earlier than.
MORE: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS goals to be the S-Class of SUVs
I’ve spent a day hustling a 2020 GLS450 by means of the Wasatch Vary, the westernmost stretch of the Rockies in Utah, a few 90-minute drive from Promontory, and I’m offered. I’m able to money in my financial savings and my 401(okay) and perhaps swing by just a few pawn outlets to scrounge up the remainder wanted for this $78,000 surprise machine.
The brand new GLS has all of the presence of a locomotive, a burly SUV with a blunt face that punches by means of the wind on its method to ship one thing—youngsters to highschool, maybe—in supreme consolation. It, maybe much more than first-class on an Airbus A380, is the trendy equal of the Pullman coaches that hustled titans of business from coast to coast alongside the Transcontinental Railroad.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
A suspension like no different
The darkish blue GLS that I snake down Freeway 65 glides on its non-compulsory E-Lively Physique Management suspension. The E-Lively system makes use of sensors to learn the street forward for imperfections and adjusts every nook of the air suspension in anticipation of what’s to come back. Hustled by means of a winding street, the GLS stays virtually too upright, with so little lean that I discover myself by accident hitting triple digits although a yellow signal strongly steered that I dial it again to 55 mph for security.
Earlier within the day, I’d pushed a GLS with the usual air suspension. Whereas it’s too bouncy in Consolation mode, the bottom suspension responds extra predictably. E-Lively Physique Management is astounding in its skills, and it whets the urge for food for what might occur with the subsequent technology of this technique. It’s additionally certain to be jaw-droppingly costly when particular person possibility costs are introduced; Mercedes expenses $Eight,100 for the choice on its associated however smaller GLE, although that features the air suspension that’s normal on the GLS. It gained’t take a lot to possibility a GLS into six figures, at which level E-Lively Physique Management is only a tick of another choice field for some consumers.
A 48-volt starter-generator paired with a lithium-ion battery supplies oomph to make the power-hungry E-Lively Physique Management system viable. The 48-volt system, which Benz calls EQ Increase, may also provide a swift 21 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque kick within the pants to both the GLS450’s 362-hp turbocharged inline-6 or the GLS580’s 483-hp turbocharged V-Eight. It’s like a real-world model of the nitro button on a 1990s driving simulator, solely extra predictable (however perhaps most likely sooner). For almost any driver, the GLS450 will show greater than adequate. Its Three.Zero-liter inline-6 is a mildly detuned model of the engine underneath the hood of the automaker’s varied 53 AMG fashions, such because the E53. The V-Eight supplies extra punch, however it works virtually too properly with the 9-speed automated transmission. Stab the GLS580’s throttle into the ground and it vaults ahead with terrier-on-the-prowl ferocity.
Each engines are refined virtually to the purpose of absurdity, extra like a Japanese bullet practice of their silence than the Union Pacific No. 119 that charged towards Promontory from Chicago. The GLS defies its brick form with planted, steady monitoring, even because the wind picks up as I head towards Salt Lake Metropolis. It feels virtually as if it’s on rails, to cite the overused cliche, and the out there 23-inch wheels aren’t all that a lot smaller than the massive metal wheels on a practice. The journey even with the most important wheels is tender in Consolation mode due to the air suspension, however extra managed in Sport and Sport+.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
With the twisties in my rearview mirror, I faucet the cruise management swap, which permits for restricted hands-free driving. Nudge the flip sign and the GLS appears for a gap in visitors and, discovering one, mechanically motors itself right into a neighboring lane. It’s removed from autopilot, however it does take some stress out of day by day driving. As if the spacious inside with its built-in perfume diffuser, seats that present a number of massaging modes, and elegant Burmester audio system wasn’t sufficient of a relaxing presence.
These Pullmans had sufficient inside quantity that one proprietor is rumored to have arrange a bouncy placing inexperienced, however they had been hardly as cosseting as the most recent GLS. One of the best seat in the home right here isn’t up entrance, although the first-class thrones supply an expansive view and really feel simply nearly as good within the base artificial leather-based as they do within the extra-cost hides with contrasting piping. Go for the Govt Rear Seat Bundle and the second row boasts seats almost as power-adjustable as these up entrance, plus heating and cooling, and a Samsung pill that stows within the heart console and serves as a mirror of the infotainment display screen up entrance. An influence-folding row three is normal and is tolerable for adults, however finest for teenagers.
The inside appears finest in lighter hues, which pair properly with the assorted open-pore wooden trims Mercedes presents. The usual panoramic sunroof is huge, however may benefit from the automated dimming system Mercedes and Boeing have used of their SL and Dreamliner, respectively. With it open, the cabin will get toasty on a scorching Utah day. I solely have one different criticism concerning the inside: the plastic trim that makes up the small-items storage bins within the door panels is difficult slightly than being coated with a tender, leather-like materials.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
The principle management interface consists of two 12.Three-inch screens housed behind a glass panel, a glance Mercedes has spent the final couple of years rolling out on its high-end fashions. In entrance of the motive force sits a configurable instrument cluster. To the precise above the quad air vents rests an virtually an identical display screen that responds to touches, gestures, voice instructions, and a touchpad on the middle console. Mercedes’ newest MBUX infotainment software program is on board, and it really works properly sufficient by itself that the usual Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility might go unused. Buried inside the system’s myriad menus are as many controls as one may discover within the cab of a locomotive, although they’re accessed by way of icons with extra character than the easy-read numerals on a railroad pocket watch.
With the massaging driver’s seat set to Sizzling Stone mode, the GLS450 does its closest impression to the rhythmic ca-chunk, ca-chunk of a practice automotive because it chews up the freeway beneath and spits out asphalt within the rearview mirror. It’s exhausting to think about a extra civilized method to discover America.
Mercedes-Benz offered journey and lodging to Web Manufacturers Automotive to convey you this firsthand report.