I drove Mercedes-Benz's $135,000 Tesla rival and experienced the electric, screen-filled future of luxury SUVs
I drove the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV, the brand's first electric SUV for the US market.
It's astonishingly luxurious and comfortable, and is rated for up to 305 miles of range in some trims.
The EQS 450 4MATIC SUV that Mercedes lent me came out to roughly $135,000, including a delivery fee and a boatload of options.
I can't tell you with certainty whether the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is worth its six-figure starting price. That depends on what $100,000 means to you.
What I can say after testing out Benz's new, all-electric family-hauler is it envelops you in rich materials, glides down the road, and — if you get the chance to drive one — might just ruin you for other vehicles.
Central to Mercedes-Benz's mission to conquer the world of electric vehicles, the EQS is new for 2023 and is the brand's first battery-powered SUV for US customers. It's the bigger sibling to the EQS sedan and competes with the BMW iX, Tesla Model X, and Audi Q8 E-Tron. It comes in three versions:
EQS 450+ SUV (starts at $104,400 MSRP): This base model comes with a single motor, rear-wheel drive, and a claimed 355 horsepower. It earns a 305-mile range rating from the EPA and comes packed with high-end features like ambient lighting, rear-wheel steering, a sunroof, and lots of driver-assistance tech.
EQS 450 4MATIC SUV ($107,400): Adds all-wheel drive, dropping range to 285 miles due to a second, energy-draining motor.
EQS 580 4MATIC SUV ($125,950): This top-line model comes with all-wheel drive, 536 horsepower, and Benz's vast "Hyperscreen," which comprises three displays.
The EQS 450 4MATIC SUV that Mercedes lent me came to $135,020 with fees, including upgraded rear seats and the Hyperscreen as a $7,300 add-on.
What the EQS SUV does right: An amazingly luxurious interior
Shut yourself inside the EQS SUV with a satisfying thunk of its weighty driver's door and you're pleasantly insulated from the noisy, grimy outside world. Its leather seats — which come heated and ventilated — let you sink in enough to get comfy, but won't swallow you whole like that raggedy armchair in the basement. Everything you interact with, from the steering wheel to the window switches, feels remarkably sturdy.
Gaze around at the SUV's luxurious suede surfaces, elegant metallic accents, and subtle ambient lighting, and you can't help but think to yourself: "It's good to have money." (Until, in my case, you remember this vehicle does not belong to you.)
The $2,000 Executive Rear Seat Package equipped on my tester pampers passengers with squishy neck pillows, a tablet, heated seats, and a wireless phone charger. All around, there's plenty of room to stretch out, even for tall people.
Any tech nerds will be blown away by the Hyperscreen, a dazzling array of three displays under a single, giant piece of glass that stretches across the SUV's dashboard. While the central touchscreen is snappy and intuitive — and, thankfully, keeps the all-important climate controls front and center — I found the whole setup excessive.
All that glass sometimes reflects sunlight right into the driver's eyes, and I'm not sure why the front passenger needs a dedicated screen when the main display is only a few inches away. But then again, if you're a driver who can't tolerate anyone messing with your navigation — even when it says to stay on I-95 for the next 93 miles — the Hyperscreen is your savior.
How the EQS SUV drives
The luxurious atmosphere doesn't end when you get moving. The EQS SUV's air suspension soaks up bumps like a sponge and creates a relaxing driving experience overall. New York City's potholed streets still jostled me around, but on normal roads, the EQS SUV rode like a dream.
Since the EQS SUV's primary mission is comfort rather than performance, it doesn't deliver the same rocket-ship EV quickness as sporty Teslas and BMWs. But it still feels powerful, and it'll get your heart pumping if you click into Sport mode.
The EQS SUV's all-wheel-drive range, 285 miles, is solid but less than the Rivian R1S, BMW iX, and Tesla Model X. All of those models deliver well over 300, per the EPA.
The EQS SUV excels in cramped parking lots, too, thanks to 10-degree rear-wheel steering, which comes standard. At low speeds, the back wheels swivel the opposite direction of the fronts, giving the sizable SUV the tight turning radius of a much smaller vehicle.
Plus, some thoughtful tech features make getting around in the EQS SUV that much more convenient. Lots of new cars offer a birds-eye, 360-degree view that helps with parking, and the EQS SUV is no exception. Better yet, during parking, the SUV's head-up display projects a little diagram onto the windshield indicating the vehicle's proximity to other objects.
What the EQS SUV lacks: Confidence-inspiring brakes and a competitive price
One neat feature in electric cars is regenerative braking. Release the accelerator in practically any new EV and the vehicle will start slowing itself down, capturing energy from its motor and recharging the battery in the process.
But in the EQS SUV, the regen braking and regular brakes don't mesh well. The result is a disconnected-feeling brake pedal that doesn't exactly inspire confidence when you need to stop suddenly.
Price presents another weak point. Mercedes' GLS, the EQS SUV's gas-powered equivalent, starts at more than $20,000 less. So does the electric BMW iX.
Our impressions: A fabulous lounge on wheels, for those who can afford it
Even if its brakes need work, the EQS SUV's lavish interior, comfy ride, and flashy tech make it a showstopper.
If you have about $100,000 burning a hole in your pocket — a good test for this is whether you'd estimate a banana costs more or less than $10 — then go right ahead and pick one up. You won't be disappointed.
Read the original article on Business Insider