2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV: Test Drive And Review

More From Forbes

There isn’t a bad apple in the growing lineup of EQ models from Mercedes-Benz, and the latest to arrive – the full-size EQS SUV – is no exception. The all-electric up to three-row vehicle, which will be offered in EQS 450+, EQS 450 4MATIC, and EQS 580 4MATIC models, is luxurious, spacious, innovative, and impressively capable. And following a pattern we’ve seen with the other Mercedes-EQ-family of models, the EQS is good enough to make shoppers forget about a combustion option.

It won’t be difficult for passers-by to notice the EQS. Its all-electric architecture – shared with the EQS Sedan but tailored for SUV use – allowed the designers to break from traditional combustion design restrictions. Instead, function, aerodynamics, and innovative aesthetics took center stage. The result is one of the most aerodynamic SUVs the company has ever sculpted. The EQS possesses beautiful lines (in sharp contrast to most of its competitors), and the panels reduced panel joints and seamless transitions thanks to the lack of a combustion engine.

Without question, the EQS SUV is still unmistakable as a Mercedes-Benz. The iconic three-point star is prominent on the nose, while the surrounding EQ-signature black panel grill cleverly hides the multiple driving and safety sensors behind it. In addition, the EQS SUV vaunts notable shoulders over each wheel well, providing a look that projects power and stability, while the flush door handles reinforce the sleek aerodynamics. The overall look is fresh without looking too futuristic – it’s timeless.

The interior of the EQS SUV is even more striking than its outer shell. Unlike the competitors, which provide awkward or spartan interior designs, the team at Mercedes-Benz has done an excellent job incorporating a traditional layout with an innovative and futuristic execution. As a result, those in the front seats face a stunning MBUX Hyperscreen. The curved glass panel stretches 56 inches – blanketing the entire dashboard – encompassing the primary instrument cluster, central infotainment display, and a passenger display (all displays, except for the instrument cluster, are OLED touchscreens). Other user interfaces include a thick three-spoke, multifunction steering wheel complemented by door and center console controls.

Second-row passengers enjoy a flat floor (a benefit of the electric powertrain) and generous head, shoulder, and legroom. The seats are motorized, allowing recline and fore-and-aft adjustment. The armrest drops for additional comfort and storage if the middle seat is not needed. There are HVAC vents at the rear of the center console and on the pillars (3-zone climate control is standard, with up to 5-zone climate control optional) to boost air circulation throughout the cabin.

Mercedes offers an optional third row in the EQS, which increases capacity from five to seven passengers. Adults may contentedly occupy the third row for in-town trips (kids are OK regardless), but second-row passengers will have to power their seats forward a bit. The second-row splits/folds 40:20:40, while the third-row splits/folds 50:50 to increase utility.

I’d be doing a disservice to Mercedes-Benz if I didn’t mention the mind-blowing compilation of technology and innovation packed within the EQS SUV. Unfortunately, covering each bit of magic would require an article ten times this length (the vehicle’s press release is a humungous 55 pages in size – about five times the page volume of the average new vehicle release), so I am simply going to say that if you can think of a driving assist system, an infotainment technology, a safety feature, or just about anything else (from audio Summer Rain soundscapes to 2.6 million pixel LED headlights), the EQS SUV likely has or offers it.

Initially, Mercedes-Benz is offering three different models that are essentially differentiated by their powertrains. All EQS SUVs share the same 108.4 kWh lithium-ion battery, but unique motor configurations, outputs, and curb weights alter acceleration and range.

The EQS 450+ SUV (base price of about $105,000) is fitted with a single 265 kW motor on the rear axle for a rear-wheel configuration. The motor provides 355 hp and 419 lb-ft of torque, which enables the 5,963-pound SUV to accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 6.5 seconds. In addition, the battery provides approximately 305 miles of driving range – on par with most combustion vehicles of the same size.

The EQS 450 4MATIC SUV (base price of about $108,000) boasts a dual motor set-up for permanent all-wheel drive. Its powertrain is configured to deliver 265 kW of output (355 hp and 419 lb-ft of torque), equal to the rear-wheel drive model. Thanks to the additional grip of 4MATIC, it accelerates the 6,208-pound SUV to 60 mph in about 5.8 seconds – a tad bit quicker than the 450+ model. The extra load on the battery drops range to about 285 miles on a full charge.

The EQS 580 4MATIC SUV (base price of about $126,000) also boasts a dual motor, all-wheel drive powertrain with higher output. The motors are tuned to deliver a muscular 400 kW of output (536 hp and 633 lb-ft of torque), which rockets the 6,228-pound SUV to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds – it’s downright fast. Range is about 285 miles.

All models offer DYNAMIC SELECT with four self-explanatory driving programs (COMFORT, SPORT, ECO, and OFFROAD). Most owners will be pleased with COMFORT driving around town, ECO when trying to squeeze a few additional miles out of the battery, or OFFROAD when seeking a bit more ground clearance. SPORT will likely be used the least, only existing for those who insist a three-ton SUV must be able to keep up with a Volkswagen GTI on the onramp.

On the road, the ride equals the lavish promises made by the exterior design and interior appointments. Air suspension delivers an elegant ride, while the weight of the belly-mounted battery pack (within its armored protective shield) acts like a large mass damper – effectively erasing the annoying jiggles and bumps found on all road surfaces. Stability is exemplary, and handling is predictable and safe – kudos to Mercedes for fitting rear-axle steer as standard equipment. Of course, go bonkers and push any of the EQS SUV models hard into a corner, and it will understeer, but only a madman (or an automotive journalist) would expect their 7-passenger SUV to handle like a svelte AMG sedan.

Absent a growling combustion engine, the EQS is nearly silent while sitting still (as are almost all pure-electric vehicles), yet Mercedes engineers ensured that wind and tire noise doesn’t permeate the cabin at higher speeds, either. So on the highway, passengers can whisper their conversations – it’s that quiet.

Like the EQS Sedan, the EQS SUV offers four brake regeneration settings (Strong, Normal, None, and Intelligent). Intelligent is most useful, as it factors in the surroundings (traffic and geography) for predictive assistance. The Strong setting still falls short of the neck-snapping lift-off-the-accelerator drag some competitors offer, but it won’t matter to most who are behind the steering wheel.

Those who venture off-road in their EQS 4MATIC SUVs won’t be disappointed. The rear-axle steering improves maneuverability immensely, allowing the Mercedes to follow wavy switchback paths easily (where all other off-roaders are forced into three-point turns, the EQS can do a simple U-turn). And the immediate torque of the electric motors, combined with the all-digital traction control systems, makes easy work of slippery surfaces. Best of all, there is something magical about driving through nature in a near-silent vehicle. There are few things as pleasurable as rolling down the windows, turning off the audio system, and simply enjoying the birds singing.

Dealers will receive the all-new 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV as you read this. Without question, the all-electric SUV is a better vehicle than the GLS-Class in terms of luxury, innovation, efficiency, and safety – checking each box effortlessly. Although the battery-powered vehicle may lack some of the emotional and visceral connection that a combustion engine offers, smart owners with a Level 2 charger at home – waking to a fully charged SUV each morning – will never miss visiting a gasoline station.

The new Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV doesn’t merely make sense for most families seeking a family-oriented emission-free vehicle – it’s rightfully the intelligent choice.