Mercedes-Benz is currently in the middle of introducing all-electric versions of their model lineup. The latest vehicle to be introduced is the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV. This is the “S-class” of electric SUVs, but it’s not the same size as the gasoline GLS SUV. It’s actually similar in size to the GLE. But, unconventional naming aside, does this new car feel like an S-class of electric SUVs?
Motors – This EQS 580 SUV definitely has the power of an S-class. Total output from the two electric motors is 516 hp and 632 lb-ft (385 kW & 857 Nm). This power allows the 2,810 kg (6,195 lbs) EQS SUV to accelerate from a stop in a claimed 4.6 seconds. But Mercedes-Benz always errs on the side of caution so in reality, it’s probably a little bit quicker than that.
The different drive modes provide varying power delivery. In Comfort, acceleration is gradual and linear. In Sport, the acceleration and response of the electric motors is much more snappy. In a straight line, this heavy SUV really sheds the weight and gets going. This EQS 580 is also capable of towing up to 3,500 lbs.
Here in Canada we also get an EQS 450 SUV which has 335 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque (250 kW & 800 Nm). This one accelerates from a stop to 100 km/h in 6.0 seconds according to Mercedes-Benz.
Battery & Charging – In the floor is a massive 107.8 kWh battery pack that can provide up to 459 km (285 miles) of driving range. The battery pack is the same in the EQS 450 SUV as is the driving range.
The level 2 charging speed is 9.6 kW at its maximum which will allow the SUV to be recharged from 10% to 100% in 12.5 hours. The level 3 maximum charging speed is 200 kW and it will recharge from 10% to 80% in 31 minutes.
Braking – This is where it gets a bit weird and unsettling to some. Firstly, the brake discs on the EQS SUV are massive. It’s hard to see them behind the unique aero wheels but I assure you they are huge. These stop the heavy SUV with ferocity and the brake pedal is firm under emergency situations.
However, under normal driving conditions, the brake pedal does some funky stuff. There are 4 different regen braking modes from no regen to normal regen to strong regen and finally intelligent regen braking. The intelligent braking mode is adaptive and it varies depending on driving factors such as a vehicle ahead of the EQS or the vehicle’s speed. But it’s never consistent and you never know what the computers are going to do next. I personally find that discomforting and I did not like using this mode. Strong regen is powerful enough to bring the SUV to a complete stop without the use of the brake pedal. Essentially, it is a one-pedal drive mode. But if you need to apply more braking force to stop more quickly, the brake pedal literally moves whenever the SUV slows down in this regen braking mode. That means that the brake pedal is never where you expect it to be which is unsettling. Additionally, the brake lights do come on when slowing down but they turn off once the car arrives at a complete stop without using the brake pedal. That seems very dangerous to me.
Switching to the normal or no regen braking modes results in less pedal movement of its own accord. But there’s a distinct difference between regen braking and the physical brakes in these modes. This makes smooth stops very tricky and it’ll induce some head bobbing. This brake pedal feel is the strangest, unnerving, and frankly worst that I’ve ever come across.
Handling – The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV isn’t particularly spritely around corners. Then again, this is a luxury oriented SUV rather than one adorning an AMG badge. Steering is firm at autobahn speeds but lightens up just enough at slow speeds for ease of maneuverability. Additionally, the EQS SUV is equipped with standard 4.5° of rear wheel steering to aid around tight parking lots. You can option for 10° of rear wheel steering for an extra cost.
The EQS SUV also comes equipped with an Off-Road drive mode which raises the air suspension and softens the throttle response among other powertrain changes to make it a fairly capable off-roader. I doubt that most, if any, EQS SUV owners will take this 6-figure SUV on a forest service road but at least you’ll have the knowledge that it can cope with some light off-roading.
Ride Comfort – This EQS SUV definitely has the ride of an S-class thanks to the standard air suspension and active dampers. The body is unbelievably well controlled by the dampers which is no easy task when the SUV weighs well over 6,000 lbs. The air springs absorb the worst potholes and manhole covers that city streets throw at this SUV. Again, not an easy task with the 21” wheels. All in all, this is a superbly comfortable SUV that is very much deserving of the “S” in its name.
Interior Space – As is the norm, front occupants are treated to a lot of space in the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV. Whether you’re short or as tall as myself at 6’4”, there’s just the right seating position. Additionally, the seats provide great support and comfort with an optional massage feature.
The second row seats have an ample amount of space for taller adults but not quite as much as in the GLS. However, my knees just barely brush against the back of the front seat in my tall driving position and headroom is adequate for my tall height. The 2nd row seats have some degree of electric adjustability though not as much as in the actual S-class. Also, the rear seats do not have any sort of ventilation or massage option unlike the S-class.
The EQS SUV can be optioned with a 3rd row. This demo vehicle did not have this option but in looking at the pictures, the space in those back seats look tighter than tight even for little kids. Without the 3rd row, the EQS SUV has 651 L (23 cu-ft) of space with the 2nd row seats up and 2,095 L (74 cu-ft) of space with the seats folded. These are almost the same luggage spaces as the GLE. However unlike the GLE, the EQS SUV does not have any button in the trunk that allows the rear air suspension to lower for easier loading and unloading.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – With the transition to an electric powertrain, there are absolutely no vibrations through the chassis because there’s no engine. The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is as smooth as taking a flight in a 787 Dreamliner. Speaking of flying, wind noise is minimal, there is some road noise but it’s not any worse than in the gasoline Mercedes SUVs.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is as expensive as one expects from a luxury German car brand. The EQS 450 SUV starts at $136,000 CAD ($107,400 USD) while the EQS 580 SUV starts at $158,500 CAD ($125,950 USD). There is an EQS 450+ SUV ($104,400 USD) that is available in the United States but not here in Canada. This demo vehicle came equipped to the price of $178,600 CAD ($137,790 USD).
Gadgets – With this 6-figure price tag, the EQS SUV has features on it that you’ll only find out if you read the spec sheet. Of course it has the usual features of soft leather upholstery throughout the cabin, heated seats all round and a heated steering wheel that turns on with the driver heated seat, 4-zone climate control (5 if you option for the 3rd row), pillows in the headrests, panoramic sunroof, the aforementioned massaging front seats and many, many more options.
Some of the more unique features include LED digital headlights that not only adjust on the fly when there’s an oncoming car or to changing road conditions but they can also project animations when turning on or off the car. There’s pre-entry climate control with purification which will precondition the cabin before you enter the car. There’s a carwash mode that will raise the suspension, close the sunroof, turn off the rain-sensing wipers, and set the climate control to recirculate. The windshield, side windows, and rear window have an acoustic membrane to reduce outside noises. Additionally, the glass is infrared-reflecting which helps reduce the sun’s harmful UV rays. You can even set different profiles in the infotainment system and quickly load them with a touch of the fingerprint scanner on the center console.
However, the biggest gadget of all has to be the hyperscreen. This is a single piece of glass measuring 56 inches that contains three individual screens. A 12.3” driver display, a 17.7” OLED display for the infotainment, and a 12.3” OLED display in front of the passenger. These screens display the latest iteration of the MBUX infotainment system. It may feel a bit daunting to dig through submenus in order to change a vehicle’s function but it is fairly well structured. My biggest complaint about this system has to do with the integration of the climate controls and most used functions into the touchscreens. It can be distracting trying to fumble with touchscreen controls rather than physical controls. There are voice controls that can change the temperature but these don’t always work on the first try. Additionally, the passenger screen can reflect sunlight at just the right angle into your eyes while driving.
Interior Design – The hyperscreen and the 64-colour ambient lightning system make the cabin of the EQS SUV look visually stunning. I am a big fan of Mercedes-Benz’s ambient lights. They add an aura and an ambience that no other car can match. You can also turn down the lights by different sections if it’s too distracting at night.
But speaking of distracting, the hyperscreen and the touch controls on the steering wheel are by far the most distracting aspects of this car and other current generation Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The controls on the steering wheel are a combination of hard presses and swipes, which half the time, register the wrong movement. Also, the touchscreen controls do have haptic feedback but you still need to take your eyes off the road to make sure that you changed the function that you wanted changing.
The design is visually stunning and striking but it just feels as though Mercedes-Benz interiors are not designed with craftsmanship anymore. It’s as though they put a giant screen on the dash and then let the programmers and UX designers finish the rest of the job.
Exterior Design – From head-on, the EQS SUV looks pretty good for an electric car. It has a muscular build and the fake grille isn’t too imposing. As for the rest of the body, it’s all been designed with aerodynamics in mind which is why there are so many curves. I think it looks better than the EQS sedan but somehow, it doesn’t hold quite as much presence as some other SUVs in this class like the Porsche Cayenne.
Safety – Just like the convenience features, the list of safety features is a long one. In fact, there are only 4 optional safety features available on the EQS SUV. These are a built-in dashcam, trailer stability assist, rear side-impact airbags, and rear-seat beltbags. Everything else is standard and the list is too long to mention in this review. But some of the highlights include emergency braking that will apply more braking force on its own if you don’t press the brake pedal hard enough, the brakes are gently applied when it rains to keep the surface dry for better performance, there’s crosswind assist which will warn you of heavy crosswinds and compensate for them, the lane centering system on highways keep the car dead center and the system can change lanes on its own but this is not a hands-free system. So there are a lot of safety and driver aids to keep you and your family safe in this SUV.
Warranty – The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV comes with a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle warranty. It also comes with 4 years / unlimited km roadside assistance, 4 year / 80,000 km surface corrosion, and 10 years / 250,000 km for the battery. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For U.S.A. warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – What I don’t understand about the EQS SUV is why the engineers put so many safety and driver aids but made the interior so distracting when driving? On one hand they want you to be safe but they also want you to take your eyes off the road and look at the hyperscreen. I don’t understand nor like the new design language of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
But, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 SUV definitely has the luxury of an S-class, it has the comfort of an S-class, and the price of an S-class. This is a very expensive SUV and I’m not sure it’s all worth it. If it were my money, I’d wait for the EQE SUV. The reason is because it is available with the same air suspension system, same rear-wheel steering, same hyperscreen, and same general designs. Yes, it’s a bit less powerful, slightly less range, and slightly smaller but crucially, it is significantly less expensive. That’s the one I’d go for if I were in the market for a Mercedes electric SUV.
Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mercedes-Benz.ca