The field of electric vehicles (EVs) is getting bigger by the day, and in the luxury landscape, Mercedes-Benz is doing their part to fill the obvious spaces of each class with a new EV. When it comes to the largest SUV they make, the GLS, Mercedes brings us the new EQS SUV for an electrified large 3-row luxury crossover that’s proved to be quite the overwhelming vehicle during my week with the nearly-loaded EQS 580 4Matic SUV. While the new EQS SUV looks very different from its GLS gas-burning sibling, it shows a progressive movement by the German luxury brand to do something different but not offensive for its new line of EQ EVs.
The new Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV comes in three defined levels, the 450+ rear-wheel drive (355-hp/419 lb-ft torque), single motor variant, an all-wheel-drive dual-motor 450 4Matic (355-hp/590 lb-ft torque), and my dual-motor AWD EQS 580 4Matic test vehicle that packs in 536 horsepower and 633 lb-ft of torque. The power for all models comes from a 108.4-kWh battery pack with DC fast-charging capability of up to 200 kW.
Driving the EQS 580 SUV is a serene experience where it’s almost eerily quiet in the large airy cabin, and everything the EQS SUV does is soft, followed up with an even softer adaptive air suspension system. Often enough, the EQS 580 SUV feels heavy as it is just over 6,200 pounds. However, that heft is ever so slightly hidden when you put your foot into the accelerator, and the EQS 580 SUV gets up to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. The way the EQS SUV feels for power delivery is mostly unlike other EVs as it steps the power in softly, and it feels that it builds and pulls like a fright train. The body movements can become a little busy, but the adaptive dampers seem to step in to check some of the lofting around upon braking and going over undulations and rises in the road. The overly soft suspension does soak up road imperfections well, but some may find it to be a little too soft on occasions, even though it prevents the body from being sloppy.
The one characteristic of driving the EQS 580 SUV that feels wacky is the braking, which they feel totally artificial, and the transition from regen braking and use of the friction brakes is a mixed bag. Overall, the braking needs refining, possibly by some reprogramming, as you’re left with braking situations where passengers think you’re trying some funny business by bucking the car when you are slowing – but you can’t help it because the braking is hard to judge. There are four regenerative settings, none, normal, high, and an intelligent mode that uses the front radar to add regen automatically as you approach vehicles.
The EQS 580 SUV is a simple driving experience for a large SUV. The rear-wheel-steering, the most aggressive that I’ve ever experienced, turns the rear wheels up to 10 degrees, which is extreme and turns more than any other production vehicle with a similar system. You’ll even glance in your side heated and auto-dimming rearview mirrors and notice the aggressive canter of the rear wheels turning in the opposite direction of the front wheels at lower speeds. It’s a fun experience and often a way to show the EQS 580 SUV off to others as being something completely different that literally turns on a dime.
The drive modes for the EQS 580 SUV make small changes in how it drives, and there’s an off-roading mode that raises the air suspension and proves to be rather surprising in handling loose sand dunes that I was able to experience. But who’s going to be taking such a vehicle off-road? The 21-inch wheels and tires look unique but not attractive in my view but prove to be a quiet, smooth, and efficient affair.
Having driven countless EVs the past few years, I’ve taken notice to an interesting factor for range estimates given by manufacturers. That interesting finding is the fact that most manufacturers are underestimating the range, which may play into the idea of the stated range being closer to cooler climate conditions, which EV batteries do not like. Here in our hottest season of the year in Florida, temperatures have been around 95 degrees or higher, and I am willing to bet that this factor alone has contributed to the EQS 580 SUV giving me a much longer range estimate, almost as much as having 100 miles more of range than the 285 miles estimate stated by Mercedes. That means after fully charging the Benz SUV overnight on my Level 2 charger, maxing out at a rate of 9.6 kW, taking just over 10 hours from a 10% state of charge, I was left with a 380 miles range estimate. Putting that estimate to the test proved that it was nearly correct from my calculations.
Even though I didn’t run the battery state of charge any lower than 20%, the range estimate fell in line with having a total range of about 360 miles after a mixed driving experience on the highway and local roads. The real-world rating should easily surpass the 74 MPGe city, 74 MPGe highway, and 77 MPGe combined EPA estimate in ideal warm conditions.
The charging capability using a DC fast charger is up to 200 kW, which gives you a 10% to 80% state of charge in about 30 minutes.
The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV takes most of what you find in the latest GLS. While the EQS 580 SUV is actually shorter than the GLS, it still makes the best use of its generous interior dimensions and even offers up a two-row setup, as found in my test vehicle. Buyers can still opt for a three-row seating setup for up to 7 seats, but doing such will sacrifice cargo room, leaving you with less than the GLS offers. Also, there is no front trunk (frunk) as Mercedes keeps the hood sealed to owners where the advanced air filtration system with its HEPA filter is housed.
The seats are nicely placed for liberal spacing and a lot of adjustment of the comfy heated, ventilated, and massaging front seats. The second row of seats in the bench configuration proves to be comfy as well with outboard seat heating. There’s an abundance of soft-touch surfaces throughout and unique material selections instead of the customary leather-wrapped surfaces.
Mercedes-Benz isn’t shy about experimenting with advanced technology in the real world, as the EQS SUV is a rarity in having an abundance of infotainment screen real estate. Even so, when equipped with the new hyperscreen setup, as in my test vehicle, you have 56-inches of screen to play with. The setup technically has three screens, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, same size front passenger touchscreen, and a large 17.7-inch infotainment central touchscreen with haptic feedback. There’s a neat novelty of such a screen setup, which has all three screens oddly encased in one large piece of glass that looks very expensive to replace if it were to ever break. However, the setup looks amazing, and while the use of the latest MBUX infotainment system feels extremely overwhelming at first, there’s a welcoming appreciation for so many features that you eventually master through a steep learning curve. Fundamentally, you’re going to need several hours of experiencing and playing with the system before you appreciate all that it has to offer when it later becomes less of a distraction.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nicely integrated into the system, with a quick access prompt to bring up either system. The Burmester audio system, which doubles for producing subtle artificial drivetrain noises, proves to be one of the best on the automotive market for sound quality, in my opinion. To add to the entertainment theme factor, the EQS 580 SUV has an abundance of multi-colored and animated LED ambient lighting.
Other unique characteristics of the Mercedes EQS 580 SUV remain to be the exterior sounds that it makes in certain conditions where if you fail to lock the vehicle, it emits a theatrical sound until you do, or until an allotted time has passed by. Other sounds, such as a conformation of it starting to charge, are neat reminders that you’ll eventually learn through ownership of such a technologically advanced vehicle.
The expected active safety features from the driver assistance package take front stage in the EQS 580 SUV, which also brings you active distance assist/adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning/assist, lane keeping assist, parking assist, a clever guard 360 vehicle protection w/parking damage detection system, and one of the widest-angle 360-degree camera systems I’ve ever experienced. The digital, adaptive LED lighting system with automatic high beam is very bright and covers a long distance ahead of you with neat visual animations upon vehicle startup and shutdown.
The pay-to-play factor is evident in the Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 SUV with a starting price of $125,950, which can quickly rise to my test vehicle’s price of $138,940 and beyond if you opt for the Pinnacle Trim level adding things like executive 2nd-row seats and a docking MBUX tablet for the rear seats.