Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV — All-new electric flagship

By Jim Prueter

(December 4, 2022) The first fully electric U.S. Mercedes-EQ rolled into dealer showrooms about a year ago with the EQS sedan and was also the first EQ lineage built on the dedicated platform the German automaker dubbed EVA. We recently reviewed that vehicle and came away super impressed with its rear-wheel steering, a respectable driving range of 350 miles between charges and was further surprised with an AMG version that delivers 649 horsepower and a massive 700 lb.-ft of torque.

Now for 2023 the high-riding EQS SUV is the third and latest Mercedes’ to join the growing line up of fully electric models with the EQB, the GLB-based EQ compact SUV making a splash earlier this year. Both the EQS Sedan and EQS SUV are built on the same identical platform despite being almost 8 inches taller and over an inch wider than the sedan. While the sedan is built in Germany, the SUV is built in Vance, Alabama, the same manufacturing plant as the gas-powered Mercedes’ GLE and GLS SUVS.

The new SUV is available in two flavors, the 355-horsepower EQS 450+ SUV and EQS 450 4MATIC with 305 miles and 285 miles respectively of driving range, and the more powerful 536-horsepower EQS 580 4MATIC SUV with 285. Mercedes USA provided the EQS 450+ SUV for our weeklong testing.

Mercedes tells us the EQS SUV also comes with standard fast charging capability. If you can locate the right charger it will recharge from 10% to 80% in just 30 minutes using a 200kW DC Fast charger. Mercedes claims an industry-advancing charging ecosystem offers over 60,000 public charge points nationwide.

Our base EQS 450+ with a starting price of $105,590 including $1,150 destination and delivery charge, along with desirable standard features, such as adaptive air suspension, rear-axle steering, heated and ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a BurmesterÆ sound system, selectable ambient lighting, leather seating, wireless Smartphone charging, active parking assist with PARKTRONIC, surround view camera system and more.

It came equipped with loads of optional equipment like the excellent MBUX Hyperscreen stretching the entire width of the interior from left to right A-pillars with three displays under a single 56-inch curved glass surface, multi-contour front seats with a selectable massage feature and rapid heating, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a third row of seats and more.

The top version EQS 580 has a starting price of $127,000 before options. Pricing for all SUV models pretty much is equal to the EQS sedan offerings.

One thing that takes a significant amount of learning is the capabilities of the Mercedes MBUX vehicle operating system that works fantastic, is very intuitive, extremely responsive, is well laid out with most functions primarily operated via the touchscreens. One of the more interesting features is the little black square button at the bottom of the screen is a fingerprint reader. Once you set up your personal driver profile with all your preferred settings such as seat, mirrors and steering wheel position, cabin temperature, audio infotainment settings are all matched up to your fingerprint and when you enter the vehicle simply touch the button and all settings are matched to your preferred profile. You can set this up for numerous different drivers if so desired.

There’s even a massage screen for the front seat where you can select a wide range of massage types from hot relaxing back, hot relaxing shoulders, classic massage, wave or deep waves. Scrolling to the bottom of the massage menu there’s even choices for massage workouts while you’re driving.

What is missing from the otherwise excellent operational control touchscreens is manual operating knobs and switches. So, you will find no on and off switches, knobs or buttons, dials for climate control and so forth. Most everything is operated by touch or voice activation commands. For example, if you want to open the sunshade that covers the entire panoramic sunroof it’s operated by simply swiping your finger up or down on the overhead panel and it opens or closes depending on which way you are swiping. Ditto for the audio volume control located on the steering wheel or the Hyperscreen panel since there is no volume control knob to use.

Inside, cabin materials are premium with impeccable build quality. The cabin is rife with carefully thought out and designed niceties like storage spaces below the floating center console, roomy door panels, wireless device charging, multiple seat adjustment selections both up front and in the second row of seats. There’s also a climate control screen for the rear passengers located at the beck of the center console and two USB ports.

Outside, the exterior design is what Mercedes calls One-bow sheet metal design in line with their Progressive Luxury design philosophy. Unlike the sedan the SUV pushes the cabin even closer to the front axle than on the sedan to help with aerodynamics efforts to help reduce the coefficiency to reduce the drag, as well as contributing to a roomier cabin and cargo areas.

Like the sedan, the SUV utilizes a smooth underbody and a radiator shutter that’s usually closed to build its air-slippery base. Overall, the exterior surface is smooth and slippery with a complete lack of chiseled angles, creases or undercuts. Just nice round surfaces. Even the wheels are specifically designed to aid the aerodynamic cause with closed surfaces so air can’t get through and better manage airflow.

And unlike most electric vehicles, the EQS SUV doesn’t have a front “frunk” with some cargo storage capability. In fact, the hood doesn’t even open thus a small door opening on the front driver’s side fender that when pressed pops open with a funnel tray to refill the windshield washer fluid.

The other thing that’s interesting up front is the grille which really isn’t a grille because electric cars don’t need them. On the EQS SUV it’s a giant, shiny black panel with a massive Tri-Star Mercedes log. But at closer look its completely populated with tiny Mercedes stars that we think looks cool.

On the road acceleration is more than adequate quickly darting to 60 mph from a complete stop in about 6.5-seconds. We imagine most drivers will be more than satisfied with its power for both acceleration and when passing on the highway. Handling is confident and predictable with minimal steering feedback. But know that the vehicles demeanor is engineered to return quiet, comfortable and relaxing luxury however, “sporty driving” is not in its DNA or part of the product offering. We found it delightful to drive and eliminates most of the stress associated with driving.

Consistent with all Mercedes-Benz vehicles the EQS SUV is loaded with advanced driver safety and assist features. For example, on the highway the vehicle will essentially drive for you with its standard driver assist tech. The vehicle will actually steer for you as long as your hand remains on the steering wheel and does an excellent job of speeding up, slowing down, maintaining the lane you are driving in even around curves.

Along with expected safety equipment like the assortment of air bags, automatic high beam headlamps, emergency automatic braking and lane departure warning, there’s an exit warning feature for advanced protection when exiting the vehicle. A visual warning for passengers is displayed in the exterior mirror and if it’s a car or bicycle about to drive past the vehicle an audible warning sound and ambient door lighting will start to flash red warning the occupants.

Overall, the new EQS SUV is a very large luxury vehicle with room for up to seven, a decent driving range, and a showcase for technological innovation with driver assist and driver safety features. And did I mention it was fantastic to drive? It’s a superb family vehicle for the financially well-heeled buyer who will no doubt be equally impressed.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $105,590
Price as Tested: $118,000 (Est.)
Engine/Transmission: Permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor developing 355-hp and 419 lb.-ft torque from the liquid cooled 108.4 4kWh battery pack and single-speed automatic transmission.
Fully Electric Driving Range: 305 miles
Seating: Up to 7

Crash Test Safety Ratings: Consistent with large luxury vehicles the EQS SUV has not been crash tested for safety ratings by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the U.S. Government.

Where Built: Vance (Tuscaloosa) Alabama

Competes With:
BMW iX xDrive501
Rivian R1S
Tesla Model X

Luxurious interior
Compelling, punchy, fully electric driving
Wonderful to drive
DC-Fast charging capability

Wish it had a few manual control knobs/dials for
audio system and climate control