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Mercedes-Benz GLS 2021 review: 450 4Matic

The hulk of luxury SUVs, the Mercedes GLS 450 4Matic looks good on the road with a large interior.

On your car shopping priority list: Luxury, large, big engine. Here’s a car that ticks those three boxes and then some. The Mercedes GLS 450 4Matic is huge - 5.2 metres long and just over two metres wide. The big success story for Mercedes is that when you’re driving it, you don’t notice the size at all. 

The GLS 450 4Matic is in the middle of the range and costs $147,400, before on road costs and extras. It competes with the BMW X7, the Audi Q7 and the Lexus LX and I test it drove it over seven days for this week’s family review. 

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✅ How does it look?

Besides enormous? The exterior is a little square for this reviewer’s tastes but when you have this much sheer bulk to manage I’m assuming curves might be out of the question.

It’s still, of course, a Mercedes and the design team has integrated signature elements like the front grille and their own brand of flashy sophistication into the GLS body, resulting in a car that is the size of a big off-roader, but a luxe version. 

Inside is lovely and you can immediately sink into the leather seats and relax: you have arrived in a Mercedes and it will handle everything from here.

The design team has integrated signature elements like the front grille into the GLS body. The design team has integrated signature elements like the front grille into the GLS body.

There is genuine wood trimming along the dash and centre console, the steering wheel is leather and feels lovely to hold onto, there are brushed metallic buttons, air conditioner vents and door handles. 

It comes with customisable ambient lighting in 64 colour choices (that you’ll pay for, but hey, you’ve come this far) that looks amazing at night. 

And it has a giant sunroof that goes all the way to the back and takes s-e-c-o-n-d-s to open because it’s so big. It lets loads of natural light into the car while shielding occupants from the sun. 

Inside is lovely and you can immediately sink into the leather seats and relax. Inside is lovely and you can immediately sink into the leather seats and relax.

✅ How spacious is it?

It’s just got So. Much. Room. The front is wide and spacious, with ample leg and head space for taller passengers. Even in the back my children’s legs dangled over the edge of the seat, while I had plenty of room (I’m 161cm/5'3") between my knees and the seat in front of me that taller teenagers and adults will have no problem fitting in. 

The third row is also usable for adults as well as children, though the kids will beat you to it! I can fit back there quite comfortably and while if you’re super tall, you might not want to do an interstate trek in there, it will be fine for shorter journeys. 

  • The front is wide and spacious, with ample leg and head space for taller passengers. The front is wide and spacious, with ample leg and head space for taller passengers.
  • Even in the back my children’s legs dangled over the edge of the seat, while I had plenty of room. Even in the back my children’s legs dangled over the edge of the seat, while I had plenty of room.
  • The third row is also usable for adults as well as children. The third row is also usable for adults as well as children.

The boot is large, even with all three rows in use. At 355L that’s one of the biggest in the seven-seat category and will happily take a pram or a suitcase. 

With the back two rows down, it opens up to 890L which is enormous and will fit most things you need if you’re going on a big road holiday, which we’re all doing at the moment (thanks 2020).

  • The boot is large, even with all three rows in use. The boot is large, even with all three rows in use.
  • At 355L that’s one of the biggest in the seven-seat category and will happily take a pram or a suitcase. At 355L that’s one of the biggest in the seven-seat category and will happily take a pram or a suitcase.
  • With the back two rows down, it opens up to 890L. With the back two rows down, it opens up to 890L.
  • It is enormous and will fit most things you need if you’re going on a big road holiday. It is enormous and will fit most things you need if you’re going on a big road holiday.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

Because of the size, the practicality factor goes up exponentially. It’s true what they say: space is luxury. Apart from that, it has most advanced features you could want: power adjustable front seats with the ingenious Mercedes mini chair control on each door. They have four-way lumbar support, 'hot stone massage effect', heating and ventilation.

There’s keyless entry and no park brake button so you don’t have to worry about turning it on or off. 

Because of the size, the practicality factor goes up exponentially. Because of the size, the practicality factor goes up exponentially.

The front houses two cupholders, a large centre storage bin with snazzy, two centre-opening doors on top, a wireless charger and seven USB-C charging ports throughout the car. 

The tailgate is power operated and you can lower the car with the touch of a button to load/unload the boot. 

The second and third row seats are also operated with buttons in the boot and go up and down at your request, though it must be said, there’s nothing like an old-fashioned handle to yank the seats up quickly, which this Merc is missing. 

The front houses two cupholders and a large centre storage bin. The front houses two cupholders and a large centre storage bin.

✅ How does it drive?

The best thing about the GLS 450 4Matic is that it feels small when you’re driving it, so you get all the benefits of a big car on the inside, but it turns in a surprisingly small circle and doesn’t feel like a large car much at all. 

It’s only a tiny bit heavy on take off, the steering wheel turns easily without your arms getting a workout and it’s more nimble than you’d expect. 

The best thing about the GLS 450 4Matic is that it feels small when you’re driving it. The best thing about the GLS 450 4Matic is that it feels small when you’re driving it.

There’s a 3.0L, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine, which has a lot of power to get up hills quickly and coast along highways with confidence. You sit nice and high in the GLS and it feels good on the road to drive. 

Parking is harder than usual because the car is so big, but it still fits quite neatly when you manoeuvre into a park that has enough space. 

It fit into my local shopping centre carpark height-wise, and even a small, nearby parking garage, which is notoriously poky. There is a high-definition reverse parking camera to help you out. 

There’s a 3.0L, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine, which has a lot of power to get up hills quickly. There’s a 3.0L, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine, which has a lot of power to get up hills quickly.

✅ How safe is it?

The GLS hasn’t been ANCAP tested yet but with the following features, it will most likely score a maximum five stars. 

For advanced safety there is Auto Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active lane assist, rear cross traffic alert, park assist and active blind spot assist

The GLS hasn’t been ANCAP tested yet. The GLS hasn’t been ANCAP tested yet.

There are also nine airbags that cover driver and front passenger and includes side airbags for rear passengers which I appreciate driving around my young children. You’ll get two ISOFIX points in both the second and third rows and five top tether points, making it a true family car. 

✅ What’s the tech like?

You’ll get 'Mercedes me connect' which includes things like Bluetooth connectivity, navigation and online map updates. 

It’s also got Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can instantly sync with the main apps on your phone and choose that technology for maps and listening instead. 

You’ll get 'Mercedes me connect' which includes things like Bluetooth connectivity. You’ll get 'Mercedes me connect' which includes things like Bluetooth connectivity.

The GLS is fitted with a Burmester surround sound system with 13 speakers. Phew! Turn the sound up.

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The Mercedes GLS 450 4Matic costs $147,400, before on road costs and extras. 

Fuel consumption is a claimed 9.2L/100km and I averaged 11.3L/100km over the week. 

The Mercedes GLS 450 4Matic costs $147,400. The Mercedes GLS 450 4Matic costs $147,400.

It’s covered by Mercedes three year/unlimited km warranty and servicing is required every 12months/25,000km.


The Wrap

It’s a fun family ride in the Mercedes GLS 450 4Matic and just looking at the size of the car made me want to take a road trip in it. It’s kitted out with most things you’ll want in a stylish luxury car and has loads of space in the cabin and the boot. 

I gave it a family rating of 8.3 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same. They were happy in that third row, far away from their daggy parents in the front!

Likes

Interior design
Large car with small car feel while driving
Great tech

Dislikes

Fuel consumption (no diesel or hybrid option)
Large for parking
Squarish exterior

Scores

Nedahl:

4.2

The Kids:

4.2

$147,100

Based on new car retail price