Boasting top-notch luxury in an electric package, this big Merc tries to carve out a new niche.
As upper-tier EVs go, the marketplace doesn’t offer much if drivers want an SUV. Tesla has rested on its laurels for far too long with the Model X, and at its price point, it’s lacking the quality a premium electric SUV should have. Rivian has the off-road capable and smartly-designed R1S, and BMW launched the polarizing iX, but the well-heeled driver who wants more from their luxury SUV doesn’t have a lot of options. Mercedes wants to fix that.
Mercedes has launched a couple crossovers in addition to the EQS sedan (that I tested last year) under the EQ brand, but there was a gap in the big SUV segment that seemingly needed to be filled. With bigger proportions and optional seating for seven, does the Mercedes EQS SUV accomplish something substantial?
The Useful Specs
The Mercedes EQS SUV is a new platform that carries five occupants in standard form, with a third row seat option to tote two more kids. Powertrain options include a single-motor with rear-wheel-drive fitted standard on the EQS 450+, sporting 355 horsepower and 419 lb-ft of torque, and the EQS 580 upgrades to Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive and a dual-motor setup that pumps out 536 horsepower and 633 lb-ft of torque.
Despite its 6,200-pound curb weight, all those battery-powered ponies help the EQS SUV sprint from 0-60 MPH in just 4.5 seconds, which is nothing to scoff at. Electric cruise range is stated as 285 miles, and charging is managed with DC fast charging on-board, offering up to 200 kW that can juice up the EQS SUV from 10% to 80% in just 31 minutes.
Pricing for the Mercedes EQS SUV starts at $125,950, which is nearly identical to the EQS sedan I experienced, and slightly less expensive than the traditional S-Class, yet about $20,000 more than a Mercedes’ ICE-powered GLS SUV. With three trim levels–Premium, Pinnacle, and Exclusive–offered, this Exclusive model tester includes all the lower trim features and upgrades with rapid heating and massaging front seats, four-zone climate control, MBUX interior assistant, a cabin air purifying system, and Mercedes star logo projectors in the front grille and under the doors.
Options on this tester include an upgraded two-tone interior, an augmented reality heads-up display, microfiber headliner, heated second row seats, third row seats, thicker glass and sound deadening, 21-inch wheels, two sets of wireless headsets for the infotainment system, and a 110v household charging cable to hit a total MSRP of $147,990.
Daily Driving Is Not Boring
As you would expect from a top-notch Mercedes, cruising in the EQS SUV is enjoyable. Power is smooth and balanced when you don’t smash the accelerator, reminding you that electric torque is more immediately available than in an ICE powertrain. This massive Merc can definitely plant you into the seats if you bury your right foot, but it’s not boasting silly 0-60 figures achieved by the likes of a Tesla Plaid or a Lucid Air.
Steering is light and effortless, albeit a bit more artificial than this enthusiast driver prefers. Rear axle steering is hilariously effective in the EQS, making the turning circle resemble one you’d expect from a Miata rather than a full-size SUV. Bumpy city streets are neatly minimized, thanks to Mercedes’ adaptive air suspension, even if the big electric chassis feels a bit more floaty at highway speeds. The EQS SUV’s suspension automatically lowers its ride height at over 68 MPH to reduce drag, which is smart.
There are three distinct drive modes to choose from, in addition to a customizable setup, to please any driver. I kept the powertrain in the more civil setup, and had the sport suspension activated to give smoother response and less of a boat-like feeling. I’m not sold on the Goodyear range-optimized summer tires this EQS SUV had equipped, which exhibit a fair bit of road noise coupled with average grip.
A 285-mile electric range which isn’t fantastic for a massive luxury EV, when Lucid is pushing toward 400 miles, but most Mercedes drivers aren’t likely to take this on lengthy road trips. Mercedes’ charging app in the infotainment provides lots of data points, including details on what features you’re using that either help or hurt your range. Luckily the fast charging capability of the EQS SUV makes for quick juicing stops, even if public charging infrastructure is still far from reliable. Mercedes is likely betting that EQS buyers utilize a charger in their home garage.
Where the EQS SUV shines is in the cabin, upholding Mercedes’ “The Best or Nothing” tagline. Interior appointments are nearly identical to the EQS sedan I tested, which also reminds me of the cabin of the ICE-powered Mercedes S-Class sedan I also reviewed, and that’s a good thing. The blend of cool and luxurious is perfectly executed inside the EQS, and I love the space age ambient lighting that somehow works well with fine leather, just enough brushed metal, and open-pore wood trim on the doors and center console. Thanks to the SUV body, the cabin feels downright huge, with a little help from the light-colored headliner and massive panoramic sunroof. Wireless Apple CarPlay is installed in MBUX, and the Burmester audio system is clear and powerful, pumping your favorite tunes through cool metal speaker covers.
Seats are wonderfully comfortable, providing cushioning in all the right spots, with heating that fires up quickly, and a handful of massage modes to keep you relaxed while avoiding any soreness after a long day of driving. Second-row legroom is spacious, with a full range of adjustment to suit even the tallest passengers, and I appreciate Mercedes fitting the second row’s center armrest with a wireless phone charging pad. The third row is definitely designed with younger kids in mind, and even with the back seats up, the EQS SUV has a bunch of cargo volume, which increases dramatically when you hit the button to power-lower the two rear rows. I’m not sure I’d opt for my tester’s white carpets, which are prone to getting filthy with ease. Kids are not going to be kind to them.
The Pros And Cons
Mercedes dove head-first into the EV pool, focusing its energy into new platforms for the EQ models, and the EQS SUV expresses an upscale look that also encourages better efficiency. The drag coefficient doesn’t get as low as the EQS sedan’s .20, and while Mercedes doesn’t publish that figure, it has to be good if Mercedes is going to design an egg-shaped SUV at this price point.
Some may not dig the front appearance of the EQS SUV, but I think the design language of the EQ line is cool, and I like the three-pointed stars neatly spread across the EQS’ fascia. The 21-inch AMG wheels look slick though, giving the EQS a hint of sportier style. Power-activated door handles are a little wonky to use, having a slight delay to open when you pull the handle.
Because there’s no drivetrain running through a central tunnel in the cabin, Mercedes provides a big storage space and strap under the center console that’s perfect for charging devices, tossing your purse, or concealing fast food bags when you don’t feel like making dinner.
Tech for the sake of tech is my least favorite trend in the automotive industry. Physical buttons and knobs are useful for vital functions like audio and climate systems, to ensure drivers keep their eyes on the road, yet OEMs are replacing them with screens. I don’t love the EQS SUV’s steering wheel controls that are too easy to accidentally hit when driving and have no positive sensations, and incorporating the climate controls into the huge center touchscreen is a choice I’ll never approve of. I do love the look of the 55-inch Gorilla Glass-covered Hyperscreen that stretches from pillar to pillar, incorporating the driver instrument cluster, center infotainment system, and a secondary infotainment screen in front of the passenger.
Tipping the scales at over 6,200 pounds, the Mercedes EQS SUV reminds you that it isn’t exactly light when you seek out curvy roads, but that’s the compromise when stuffing a ton of batteries into a luxury SUV package. Despite lacking a conventional engine, Mercedes does not utilize the front of the EQS SUV as a cargo area like other EVs it contends with. The hood doesn’t actually open, and the only compartment you’ll spot in the front of the car is the washer fluid filler door on the driver side fender.
Mercedes Filled A Gap In The EV Space
Rather than being simple commuting appliances, manufacturers are now crafting distinct segments of performance, luxurious, and stylish electric models. The EQS SUV is certainly luxurious, well-built, and enjoyable to drive for hours at a time, but I struggled with the feeling that it didn’t leave a meaningful impression on me. That’s not a total complaint, but I wish it had some killer feature other than fine cabin appointments to make it stand out versus Rivian, Tesla, or others in this pricier EV segment.
At $145,000, the Mercedes EQS 580 SUV is a fine electric vehicle, but is the nicer fit and finish worth the extra $40,000 over the Rivian R1S that can conquer any terrain, haul ass over any surface, and fit all your family and their gear in a package that’s still reasonably cool and refined? I’m not so sure. What I do know is that anyone who steps inside the EQS SUV will be treated to a top-level Mercedes experience that happens to be powered by electricity rather than gas, and that might be exactly what the German marque set out to accomplish.