Mercedes-Benz used the New York International Auto Show to show off a new, larger version of its full-sized, top-of-the-line GLS SUV, which it describes as “the S-Class of SUVs.” The 2020 model adds length, interior space, luxury, and comfort, the German automaker says.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS front

The 2.4 inches added to the wheelbase give the GLS a longer, less upright look. It also adds to second-row legroom. Mercedes is showcasing the benefits of adding 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which improves fuel economy by reducing demands on the engine, and powers a lot of interior accessories.

As befitting the luxury automaker’s top-of-the-line vehicle, the GLS will incorporate the latest, most advanced version of its MBUX infotainment system and a personal assistant that uses artificial intelligence to guess passengers’ needs. More functions will be activated by voice commands. A camera in the overhead console will also read simple hand gestures.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS

What it competes with: Audi Q7, BMW X7, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX 570, Lincoln Navigator, Infiniti QX80
What it looks like: A big, boxy, full-sized SUV with rounded edges and a bold grille built around a huge Mercedes emblem.
Powertrains: 4.0-liter V8 engine and a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. Both use a 48-volt mild-hybrid electrical system.
Price: $70,000-$125,000 (estimated)

Outside

If the GLS has a sleeker appearance, it’s because the SUV is more streamlined. Mercedes has improved aerodynamics, including on the underbody, to improve airflow. That improves fuel efficiency and reduces wind noise, the company says.

A lot of attention has been given to the headlights, which include a total of 112 LEDs per lamp—producing the maximum intensity allowed by law. Toward the rear, Mercedes has rounded the space from the rear doors to tail lamps, meant to evoke “powerful shoulder muscles.”

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS interior

Inside

The most spacious of Mercedes SUVs, the GLS will come with either room for seven or six luxury captain’s chairs. The third row will seat people up to 6-foot 4-inches tall comfortably, the company says. All the back seats fold flat into the floor when not in use, maximizing cargo space when needed.

More from the 2019 New York Auto Show

The interior features luxury materials, such as wood and leather. There are two large screens embedded in the dash for driver feedback and infotainment. There’s a prominent, raised center console with grab handles in case this high-end beast is driven off road. There’s built-in wireless charging for phones. For backseat passengers, there’s a tablet to control their own heating, cooling, and entertainment options.

A panoramic sunroof is even larger, with 50 percent more area for viewing the outdoors.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS backseat

What Drives It

The electrified V8 engine in the GLS 580 puts out 483 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. When the 48-volt mild-hybrid system, called EQ Boost, kicks in, it adds an additional 21 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The electrical system includes an integrated starter-generator and powers many components. They no longer have to be on the front of the engine, powered by belts. That reduces the length of the engine. The six-cylinder GLS 450 produces 362 hp and 369 lb.-ft. of torque.

Mercedes says the optional E-Active Body Control suspension will control body roll, pitching, and squat, and adjust to curves like a motorcycle. Sensors scan road surfaces and make adjustments to the suspension as needed.

Safety and Driver Assist Systems

Standard features include automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection, and sensors that activate brakes when cross-traffic is detected ahead or moving side-to-side, including bicycles and pedestrians. Also standard is a system called “Pre-Safe Sound” that emits a short interference signal when a collision is imminent. Mercedes says this triggers a reflex in the human ear which can reduce hearing loss from the crash. Also car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications.

Among the features the company will make available as optional equipment: adaptive cruise control that allows following vehicles at preset distances, smart steering that adds torque to help avoid pedestrians, and lane change assist that detects traffic in blind spots and automatically steers over when the coast is clear.

CR’s Take

The GLS has been a strong competitor among full-sized luxury SUVs. We look forward to putting the latest version through our testing process to see how it stacks up against the BMW X7 we’re currently testing.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS rear