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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Honda is working with Verizon on self-driving cars technology.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

The Mcity campus was designed to be a proving ground for new technologies. Honda and Verizon are utilizing it as such as they partner to explore how Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) can be used to ensure quick and reliable communication between road infrastructure, vehicles, and pedestrians.

The 5G technology leverages cloud technology to deliver lower latency, a large amount of bandwidth, and improved communication. This communication includes the way that vehicles interact with ther cars, traffic lights, pedestrians and emergency vehicles to improve threat detection and avoid accidents when seconds matter most. That's where the "V2" in acronyms like "V2V" (vehicle-to-vehicle) and "V2X" (vehicle- to-everything).

Honda and Verizon Test How 5G Enhances Safety for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles www.youtube.com

Honda has been working since 2017 to develop a technology that will help to create a collision-free society. The technology, called Safe Swarm, uses V2X communication to enable vehicles to communicate with other road users and share key information such as location, speed, and vehicle sensor data.

There are some obstacles, not the least of which is the need to outfit each vehicle with onboard artificial intelligence capabilities. The use of 5G helps move the AI capabilities from the vehicle to the MEC, reducing the need for AI onboard each vehicle.

"The ability to move computing power to the edge of our 5G network is an essential building block for autonomous and connected vehicles, helping cars to communicate with each other in near real-time and with sensors and cameras installed in streets and traffic lights," said Sanyogita Shamsunder, vice president of Technology Development and 5G Labs at Verizon. "When you consider that roughly 42,000 people were killed in car accidents last year and 94% of accidents are caused by human error, our new technologies including 5G and MEC can help drivers 'see' things before the human eye can register and react helping to prevent collisions and save lives."

Three safety scenarios have been explored as part of the testing:

  • Pedestrian Scenario - A pedestrian is crossing a street at an intersection. An approaching driver cannot see the pedestrian due to a building obstructing the view. Smart cameras mounted in the intersection relay information to MEC using the 5G network. Verizon's MEC and V2X software platforms detect the pedestrian and vehicle and determine the precise location of road users assisted by Verizon's Hyper Precise Location services. A visual warning message is then sent alerting the driver of the potential danger.
  • Emergency Vehicle Warning Scenari - A driver cannot see an approaching emergency vehicle and cannot hear its siren due to the high volume of in-vehicle audio. Verizon's MEC and V2X software receive a safety message from the emergency vehicle and send a warning message to nearby vehicles. The driver receives a visual warning.
  • Red Light Runner Scenario - A vehicle fails to stop at a red light. Using data from the smart cameras, MEC and V2X software detect the vehicle and send a red-light-runner visual warning message to other vehicles approaching the intersection.

You can watch the video of Honda and Verizon's Mcity tests at http://honda.us/5GResearch.

Honda isn't the only company exploring what 5G communication can offer. Pirelli has installed the tech in its tires and BMW recently updated its My BMW app to make it compatible with the new technology. Audi is working on similar technology out on the road in Virginia and Georgia.

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The new Maps+ app will allow drivers to use a navigation system who had not previously purchased navigation.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is giving its vehicles a new navigation solution. Maps+, an in-vehicle, app-based way-finding program, will begin rolling out to approximately 900,000 model year 2018 and newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles by the end of 2021, starting on April 30.

"We know customers want an easy and convenient in-vehicle experience that improves over time," said Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of Global Connected Services. "We listened to customer feedback and developed a product that works seamlessly with our current infotainment systems and provides a highly personalized experience that will iterate throughout the lifetime of the vehicle."

Maps+ was developed in partnership with Mapbox. The new app replaces navigation functionality in already-purchased vehicles that had purchased a navigation system. It provides navigation functionality to drivers of vehicles that did not opt for navigation at the onset.

The new application features Alexa build-in voice control that allows users to listen to music or podcasts using the system's integrated audio apps. A search box allows users to find points of interest, shops, restaurants, parking, and more. There is also embedded speed alert, low fuel recognition, predictive keyboard entry, day and night modes, category shortcuts, rear-time traffic routing, and dynamic mapping capability.

"Our obsession is the driver," said Peter Sirota, CEO of Mapbox. "The map is the canvas for providing the driver with a delightful, easy-to-use experience. From discovering new places to avoiding traffic on your commute to paying at the pump or the plug, Maps+ lays the foundation for an excellent navigation experience. We are excited to build upon this with GM to continue to drive adoption."

GM and Mapbox are committed to continuing Maps+ post-launch, developing new features and improvements based on feedback and metrics.

Maps+ will be available on select vehicles through Connected Vehicle, Premium and App Access subscription plans. Current eligible Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac owners will be notified when their vehicle is eligible for Maps+.

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