Behind the Wheel

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 Review: Beautiful, stylish, and mediocre all at the same time

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 is the base model.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

There's no two ways around it. The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS is beautiful to be in, stylish to be seen in, and a mediocre drive experience. Mercedes redesigned the GLS for the 2020 model year and while it ups the ante in so many ways, the three-row SUV proves unsatisfying to drive.

The looks of the GLS are expected and deliver a fresh take on the last-generation's body design that keeps the model in line with the current design language of the brand. It looks like the GLB's big brother (or is it that the GLB looks like it's little brother) and that's mostly a good thing.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 The model wears a two-bar grille with a giant Mercedes star in the center. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The model tested wore a handsome Emerald Green paint job and base model double-bar Mercedes grille. Frankly, the silver elements (the bar and large star emblem) appear cheap. It looks like the bubble letters version of a grille and doesn't portray the strength or elegance one associates with a $75,000+ vehicle.

As tested, the GLS 450 is powered by a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with mild-hybrid EQ Boost technology. The 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque numbers are deceiving. The GLS is heavy and while getting it up to speed isn't a chore, there's just no oomph from the powertrain, though the nine-speed automatic transmission makes sure that it's a smooth operation.

Changing to the Sport drive mode, the engagement picks up, but still makes makes you long for a vehicle with more of a sense of immediacy.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 The GLS retains its profile despite having a redesign for the 2020 model year. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Steering the GLS feels like it could be done with a pinky - almost too light for its size. The GLS parks easily but forward visibility isn't great for shorter drivers, especially when traversing rolling hills on more rural roads.

The interior of the GLS is as expected, but that's a good thing. It's truly luxurious. The tester was equipped with real wood trim that wasn't heavily lacquered and just looked expensive.

The climate controls are easy to use despite their minimalistic design. One large housing joins the driver information and infotainment screens with ease. Their design is attractive and the system easily performs most tasks. However, the touch controller on the center console isn't an ideal solution for most any function.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 The new GLS has a dashboard influenced by Mercedes sedan design. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The GLS is as much about the passengers as it is the driver. All seats are comfortable. For second-row passengers, it's nearly business class style seating that will make traveling with kids much less of a headache for parents.

Small item storage and cargo space is good. Using the GLS as a daily driver won't feel too limiting to the average family unless they're transporting a large amount of sports equipment and musical instruments to and fro at the same time.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 The car's touch pad controller for the infotainment screen is not easy enough to use that it doesn't create headaches. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLS wins when it comes to a luxurious interior, but its powertrain makes a strong argument for opting for the AMG version, though it's a hefty $25,000 more. The GLS is better sit in than its closest competitor, the BMW X7, which is similarly powertrained and priced, and has three rows of seating. If you don't want to spend $100,000 for the Mercedes-AMG version of the GLS, consider the Land Rover Range Rover, which starts around $90,000.

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Updated compact SUV

2022 Nissan Rogue gets new VC Turbo engine

The Rogue was fully redesigned last year.

Nissan

Nissan refreshed its best-selling vehicle, the Rogue SUV, in 2021 with a grown-up new look and plenty of new tech. Changes the year after a major overhaul are usually minor, but for 2022 Nissan's giving the Rogue a new powertrain. A brand-new 1.5-liter variable compression (VC) Turbo engine is on board, producing 201 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Nissan Rogue The new VC engine can change its compression to adapt to driving conditions.Nissan

Power is up 11 percent and torque is up a staggering 24 percent with the new power plant. The variable compression engine is capable of adapting to changing driving conditions. When the driver needs more power, the engine shifts to higher compression, which delivers better acceleration at the expense of fuel economy. When efficiency is best, the engine changes its compression again. The VC engines made their debut in 2019 in both the Infiniti QX50 and Nissan Altima. It's trick engine technology, but it doesn't always deliver on its promise of efficiency gains. Nissan's continuously variable transmission is still in place, though it has been improved with 17 percent wider gear ratio coverage and 32 percent lower friction. The automaker says it helps deliver better acceleration and fuel economy.

2022 Nissan Rogue Top Rogue trims get upscale finishes and a handsome cabin.Nissan

Pricing for the 2022 Rogue S FWD starts at $27,875, including a $1,175 destination charge. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the price by $1,500. Nissan offers three packages for the SUV as well, including a $2,660 SV Premium Package, a $1,320 SL Premium Package, and a $400 10.8-inch head-up display for the top Platinum trim.

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The G-Wagen was already over-the-top.

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The Mercedes-AMG G63 is rolling excess, in every sense of the word. It's huge, expensive, loud, quick, and demands attention, but some people feel that it needs even more of all of those things. That's where tuner Brabus comes in, and as this G-Wagen shows, people are willing to shell out big money to own a Brabus-tuned G.

Among other upgrades, the Brabus B40S-800 and G800 Widestar packages brought more power, 20-inch forged wheels, a lift kit, a performance exhaust, extra bodywork, and carbon fiber trim as far as the eye can see. The already impressive twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 to boost output to 800 horsepower and 712 pound-feet of torque. An AMG nine-speed automatic transmission handles gear shifts, while a dual-range transfer case and three locking differentials help the hulking SUV handle off-road duties with ease.

2021 Mercedes-Benz G63 Brabus G800 Widestar The G63's interior is opulent and spacious.Bring a Trailer

Inside, the G-Wagen features quilted Nappa leather upholstery, carbon fiber trim, and aluminum accents throughout. Features include a Burmester sound system, blind spot monitors, ambient lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, and plenty more. An AMG flat-bottom steering wheel, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and large center touchscreen highlight the front cabin. Just 900 miles are shown on the odometer.

2021 Mercedes-Benz G63 Brabus G800 Widestar Power output has been boosted to 800 hp.Bring a Trailer

The standard G63 starts at over $156,000, so it's not surprising to see one with far more power and a laundry list of custom features with a current bid price of $376,000. The B40S kit alone costs $35,000, and then there's installation, tuning, and all of the surrounding work. That's before we even get to the lift kit and other work done here. The price tag is steep, but this may be one case where we can actually add things up to see where the selling price comes from, instead of ogling at the six-figure price tag with no context.

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