2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV Review
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First Drive: 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV Review

Mercedes-Benz morphs its EQS luxury electric sedan into an SUV to create the first real competitor to the Tesla Model X. But can this 3-row electric SUV compete? Canada Drives heads to Denver, Colorado to find out.

Key Features:

  • Exquisite build quality
  • Highly luxurious and loaded with state-of-the-art technology
  • Seven-row seating and 4,000-pound towing rating

Direct Competitors:

  • Tesla Model X

Before Mercedes-Benz dropped the EQS SUV, there were no three-row electric SUVs on the market. Scratch that. There were no three-row electric SUVs that were not a Tesla Model X. With this new model, Mercedes not only faces Elon Musk’s eccentric SUV head on, but it also manages to keep its image of high-luxury and sophistication intact.

We flew down to Denver, Colorado, to drive Mercedes’ latest flagship SUV during its North American launch to see how it fairs in the fast-evolving world of battery electric vehicles. 

Pricing and rivals

Mercedes is serious about electrification. By the end of this year, it will have put to the market the EQS luxury full size sedan, the EQE midsize electric sedan, this EQS SUV full size utility vehicle and, later this year, the midsize EQE SUV. How’s that for a quick transition?

2023 EQS SUV | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

EQS 450 and EQS 580

The EQS SUV is exactly what its name suggests: a lifted, more spacious and a tad more capable version of the already impressive EQS premium limousine. This means that, inevitably, it’s not cheap, kicking off at $137,250 for an entry level EQS 450 and topping the lineup at $159,750 for a fully loaded EQS 580. Oh, and that’s before adding options!

But considering what it’s up against, the EQS SUV is priced accordingly. For now, it only has one main rival and that’s the Tesla Model X. That one is even more expensive, starting at a whopping $156,000. And that’s not even the Plaid – that one costs $183,600.

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV interior

While the Tesla’s cabin is simplistic, spartan and not particularly luxurious, the EQS SUV is the complete opposite. This is where Mercedes flexes its muscles by offering a meticulously well put together machine. 

Like the sedan on which it's based, this SUV welcomes you in a vast cabin covered with plush leather, veneers, and soft touch materials. Everything feels and looks of utmost quality, feeling expensive, but also as if it’ll last forever.

2023 EQS SUV | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

MBUX Hyperscreen infotainment system

Perhaps where the EQS SUV impresses the most is through its MBUX Hyperscreen infotainment system. It’s essentially a full dashboard made up of screens. While overwhelming at first, the system becomes somehow easy to manipulate within a matter of minutes, allowing the driver to fully customize the displays to their liking. Gauges, maps, passenger screen and ambient lighting can all be tailored to your favourite settings, adding a personalized feel to the whole experience.

Bang the door shut in an EQS SUV, and it thumps like a vault door, isolating you from the elements thanks to exquisite sound deadening, thick massaging, cooled and heated leather seats and a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter that cleans the air quality to 99.75%, says Mercedes.

2023 EQS SUV | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

Out the rear, the lifted roof line quells the EQS sedan’s main issue: the lack of headroom. It’s not a problem in the SUV, where even tall passengers find ample comfort and space to stretch their limbs. But while we appreciated the comfort and support that the rear seat offers, the level of equipment back there is a bit scarce considering this thing’s price. A centre console with some form of control over the car’s technology would have been a welcomed touch.

2- and 3-row configurations

Finally, the third row. It’s a tight squeeze for adults. We’d recommend leaving it for children only. Luckily, the EQS SUV is also available in a two-row configuration. In this form, it’ll even grant you more cargo space, going from 2,020 to 2,100 litres when all seatbacks are folded flat.

Performance and driving impressions

EQS electric range

2023 EQS SUV | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

Underneath the EQS SUV sits a 108.4-kWh usable lithium-ion battery pack that powers two electric motors installed on both axles. This allows this SUV to come standard with all-wheel drive. 

Both the EQS 450 and EQS 580 offer the same 459 kilometers of range, as per EPA ratings. That’s considerably behind the EQS sedan’s 547 kilometers and significantly lower than the Tesla Model X’s 531-kilometer rating.

Horsepower, torque, and towing capacity

Opting for an EQS 450 or 580 will grant you different levels of performance and towing ratings. The 450 pumps out 355 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6 seconds flat. In this configuration, it’ll tow 1,653 pounds.

2023 EQS SUV | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

The EQS 580 cranks things up to 536 horsepower and 633 lb-ft of torque, granting a 4.6-second 0-100 km/h acceleration time. That one can tow up to 4,000 pounds.

How does the all-electric Mercedes-Benz SUV perform and handle?

We drove a total of 325 kilometers through the Colorado mountain range just outside Denver. That’s where elevation changes forced us to utilize the EQS’ full power, but also where we were able to recover some electrons using regenerative braking, which operates through three different levels of resistance. 

During our time with the SUV, we recorded a 23.8 kWh/100 energy consumption average, which totals a real-life range estimate of 455 kilometers. That’s in tune with Mercedes’ promises.

Punch the accelerator pedal in the EQS SUV, and it’s never as brutal or mind-blowingly fast as a Tesla. But it’s not slow. It gets up and goes with much anticipation, allowing you to quickly catch up with traffic. The entire structure always feels rock-solid, and we were pleased by the overall calibration of its adaptive dampers. 

The EQS SUV is also quite the handler considering its size and weight. Thanks to the addition of rear-wheel steering, it quickly shrinks underneath you and exhibits fantastic road composure. We swore we were driving something much more compact.

2023 EQS SUV | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

Our only complaint comes from the brake pedal where it always felt too squishy, as if stepping on a wet sponge. We were also put off guard from the fact that the pedal moves during regenerative braking. That’s odd and unsettling, leading to a disconnection with the drivetrain since you never know where the brake pedal will be before stepping on it.

Verdict: is the EQS SUV worth it?

Mercedes' first electric flagship SUV will never win a drag race against a Tesla Model X and won’t go as far on a single charge. But the overall quality of the thing is mind-boggling, allowing it to come through as a well-rounded package that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to luxury, craftsmanship and state-of-the-art technology. If for you, all of the above are more important than 0-100 km/h acceleration times, then yes, the EQS SUV is worth every penny. 

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