Prototypes for Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation GLS have been spotted again. They hint at a more fluid yet still imposing design for the automaker’s biggest SUV offering.
Mercedes was smart to get into the full-size SUV segment a decade ago with the original GL-Class. The second-generation model currently on sale was rebranded the GLS for the 2017 model year as part of a naming shakeup at Mercedes, so this new GLS represents the model’s third iteration.
Rival brands Audi and BMW are yet to catch up, although BMW will join the fray this year with an X7 based on last year’s X7 iPerformance concept.
The new GLS is expected to trail a new GLE by about a year, meaning we should see it on sale sometime in 2019, as a 2020 model.
Compared to prototypes for the GLE, the GLS is much higher and longer. The two vehicles also appear to share design traits, with Mercedes’ Ener-G-Force concept from the 2012 Los Angeles auto show looking like it was the inspiration.
Underpinning the vehicle is a stretched version of Mercedes’ MHA platform for SUVs sized from the GLC up (excluding the G-Class). The platform is closely related to Mercedes’ MRA platform found in most of the automaker’s sedans and coupes and made its debut in the GLC.
Powertrains should include a 3.0-liter inline-6 and 4.0-liter V-8, both with mild-hybrid technology. A plug-in hybrid utilizing the inline-6 should also be offered, as should a GLS63 with over 600 horsepower on tap. A 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive should be standard on most models in the range.
There will also be Mercedes’ latest tech including self-driving systems. The most advanced should be a feature that relies on sensors and map data to automatically slow the car for corners.
And finally, expect the lux factor to be dialed up considerably. We’re talking to S-Class levels this time around. And don’t be surprised if Maybach launches its own version of the new GLS, possibly with the the last two rows swapped out for a pair of executive-style seats. Such a design was previewed at the 2018 Beijing auto show by the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury concept.