Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

My time behind the wheel of Automotive Rhythms’ Lunar Blue Metallic weekly loaner was meaningful as I used it to travel up Interstate 95 North from Maryland to visit friends and family. Dubbed the S-Class of the Mercedes-Benz SUV line, the luxuriant 2021 GLS 450 4MATIC is a jewel on wheels that provides graceful performance, stylish exterior amenities, and interior comfort akin to a Blohm + Voss Motor Yacht A.

Utilizing the massage function of the multicontour performance seats, jamming to roots reggae from the Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound System, enjoying the stately Natural Grain Grey Oak Wood Trimmed interior, and allowing radar cruise control to take over some driving duties, the roadtrip was pure bliss. The 4-hour ride seemed like just two with various technologies and comfort features in the GLS. My first day in the German SUV was a testament to its stellar 4-Zone Automatic Climate Control as it was 97 degrees out. My appreciation for the A/C and cooling seats transpired just as quick as the heated cabin was chilled off upon starting the ignition. Macchiato/Black leather provided character to go along with the 2nd and 3rd-row captain chairs (making this a 6-seater SUV), panorama sunroof with a Porcelain headliner, and the advanced MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system.

From the rear, the automatic tailgate opens rather quickly and cargo area controls are available to operate both rows of power seats. There is also a setting to lower the rear AIRMATIC Air suspension, which comes in handy when loading large/heavy items such as a mountain bike. Furthermore, the 2nd-row captain chairs are heated, power slide, and tilt. The seat controls on the door also power the headrests. Devotedly, the kids will appreciate the 9 USB charging ports, being that they can’t live without a smart device.

An efficient 3-liter Inline-6 turbo engine is adequate for typical family outings. This setup features 362-horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque between 1,600 – 4,500 rpm. I received the highway performance I needed, especially when tapping into the mode settings of Dynamic Select, which can offer a more comforting and relaxed ride or sportier vehicle reactions. The 3.0 pairs with M-B’s articulate 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission with paddle shifters. At the same time, 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive and chunky 275/50 R20 Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires provide ultimate traction whether needed for performance or navigating through inclement weather. For individuals requiring more boost, look into the various versions of the 4-liter with output from 483-horsepower to 603-horsepower depending on the GLS model you purchase.

Safety should always be at the engineering forefront in the automotive space, and Mercedes-Benz offers plenty as both standard and optional packages. I was elated to see the Driver Assistance Package Plus in my ride, which instilled the GLS with clever protection features. They consisted of Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Stop-and-Go Assist, Active Steering Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Route-Based Speed Adaptation, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Evasive Steering Assist, and Active Blind Spot Assist to name a few. Yet, the Active Lane Change Assist was too aggressive, so I disabled it.

Today’s Mercedes-Benz vehicles use artificial intelligence from MBUX, operated by an advanced touch controller and displayed on dual 12.3″ widescreen displays. LINGUATRONIC voice control and augmented video for navigation are two critical attributes of MBUX. Scrolling through the right-side screen, I was impressed by the active multi-contour seat app with bolster adjustments and various massages such as the waving massage or active workout massage. In addition, the Multicolor Ambient Lighting app offers different hues to set the proper mood, like Ocean Blue, Red Moon, and Purple Sky, my daughter’s favorite.

MSRP starts at $76,000 for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 4MATIC. My loaner came in at $87,150 with all available options. Enjoy the drive!