2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 4Matic SUV Review: Premium Electric Practicality
Mercedes's big electric SUV is thoroughly capable and plenty comfortable, if a little less flashy than its sedan counterpart.
When Mercedes-Benz launched the new EQS sedan in 2021, it came as a major marker of change for the brand. This new car, after all, was meant to be the electric version of the iconic S-Class flagship — a full-size four-door laden with luxurious materials and cutting-edge technology.
But while big luxury sedans may still be objects of esteem, sport-utility vehicles are where the money is at these days. It's why lamborghini made the Urus instead of the Estoque; it's why Bentley sells an extended-wheelbase Bentayga instead of the Mulsanne; it's why Ford and Chevrolet combined only sell four car models these days, but offer 17 sport-utes between them. And it's why Mercedes-Benz was quick to follow up the EQS sedan with an SUV equivalent: the perhaps-too-obviously-named EQS SUV.
The EQS SUV comes in three different powertrain trims, two of which are familiar from the EQS sedan. Base models, dubbed EQS 450+ SUV, use one rear-mounted electric motor that makes 355 horsepower and 419 lb-ft; top-trim EQS 580 SUVs use front and rear axle motors for a combined 536 hp and 633 lb-ft. Unique to the EQS SUV (for now, at least) is the powertrain found in the EQS 450 4Matic SUV I drove for a week: dual electric motors, one front and one rear, providing all-wheel-drive; it makes the same maximum of 355 hp as the RWD version, but torque climbs to a tasty 590 lb-ft. Considering the added grip and extra torque come at just a three grand premium over the base model while the 580 costs more than $20,000 more than the starter version, the 450 4Matic seems like the pick of the litter for most people.
The gas-powered GLS-Class is the largest SUV in the Mercedes lineup, but the EQS SUV runs a close second; while it's four inches shorter than the GLS, its wheelbase is three inches longer, presumably to help make room for the 108.4-kWh battery pack mounted below the floor. And at a curb weight of around 6,200 pounds, it's also the heaviest ride in the line.
But while the EQS SUV is ostensibly a three-row crossover like the GLS, in practice, not so much. My test car wasn't equipped with a pop-up third row, but one look at the luggage compartment suggests a) a pair of jump seats would eat up all the cargo space and b) the only ones who could comfortably occupy those seats would be hobbits. (A peek at the Mercedes-Benz website's image of the third row only confirmed that suspicion.)
Should you only need space for four or five people, though, the EQS SUV proves an absolutely delightful vehicle for everyday living. The combination of all that low-slung mass and the lengthy wheelbase gives the EQS SUV a delightful ride: stable, reassuring and even-keeled, with few bumps and little noise making its way inside. With so much torque on tap and available at split-second notice, the 450 4Matic is smile-inducingly quick to move for such a big beast, especially at around-town speeds; you need fear no passing maneuver or highway on-ramp.
Up front, the layout is much like the EQS sedan, from the ample leather and wood to the crystal-clear displays — three of them, in the case of cars equipped with the Hyperscreen like mine. While there's a dash of plastic trim hidden here and there — the new Benz seat controllers are still a big downgrade from the old ones, for example — most of the materials feel worthy of the price. Even the haptic control pads on the steering wheel work well once you get used to them; having indents in the plastic for your fingers to find works wonders.
The second row is just as commodious as the one in the EQS sedan, but the higher, straighter roofline means entry and exit is easier, and your head never feels The flat-floor design characteristic of EVs means there's a shocking amount of storage space both up front and in back. Speaking of, while the cargo bay is actually just 0.7 cubic feet bigger than the EQS four-door, its squared-off proportions make it feel more usable.
If there's a flaw with this EV SUV, it's that, well, it doesn't quite feel quite as special as the EQS sedan. The four-door is a low-slung, super-slippery jellybean that, whether you care for it or not, looks unquestionably like it's from the future. The EQS SUV, meanwhile, looks like...another SUV. The black paint of my test car did it no favors, either, hiding what curves it has and diminishing the effect of its smooth, grill-less front end.
That's true of the gas-powered equivalents, too; nice as it is, the GLS doesn't have the presence the S-Class does. Still, there's no denying that what the EQS SUV gives up in elegance, it's sure to make up for in popularity.
Price as Tested: $119,575
Powertrain: Front and rear electric motors, 108.4-kWh battery pack; single-speed gearbox; all-wheel-drive
Torque: 590 lb-ft
EPA-Rated Range: 285 miles
All the power and luxury, but with a fresh new sound.