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The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4MATIC.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Mercedes-Benz is expanding its electric vehicle lineup adding a seven-seat SUV. The EQS SUV is the third EV to use a new all-electric platform under Mercedes’ EQ umbrella, which follows in the footsteps of two electric sedans, the EQS and sportier EQE.

The EQS SUV is based on Mercedes’ first all-electric vehicle, the EQS sedan, which is a battery-electric version of the iconic S-Class. But there’s one major difference between the EQS models. The SUV is made-in-America, while the sedan is built in Germany. “The EQS SUV is made in Tuscaloosa, [Ala.]. We’ve got our own battery plant nearby so it’s the same cell technology within the battery itself, but it’s built in our own battery plant in nearby Tuscaloosa,” said Holger Enzmann, project manager for all-electric EVA2 platform that underpins the EQE and EQS models, during the global press launch of the EQS SUV in Denver.

In Canada, the EQS SUV will come in two all-wheel-drive trims: the 450 4MATIC and the 580 4MATIC. The alphanumeric badging system is confusing especially because the numbers are irrelevant, having no correlation to an engine.

The SUV shares the same wheelbase as the EQS sedan, but it’s shorter in length and more than 20 centimetres taller. It’s available with two or three rows of seats for up to seven passengers. Moving up to the three-row option costs approximately $2,500 more.

The 580′s interior is exceptional, especially with the massive curved Mercedes-Benz hyperscreen that spans almost pillar to pillar.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The EQS has 108.4 kilowatt-hours of usable battery capacity. The lithium-ion battery, with up to 12 cell modules, runs along the bottom of the EQS, creating a flat cabin floor. Both models have up to a claimed 459 kilometres of range and powerful electric motors. The EQS 450 has 355 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque; while the 580 has 536 horsepower and 633 lb-ft or torque. While both models are eerily quiet and smooth, the 580 is faster. Nail the throttle and there’s instant torque, you’re thrown back into the sculpted driver’s seat with a cozy little cushion nestled behind the head. It can sprint to 100 kilometres per hour in 4.6 seconds; the 450 will do it in six. Not bad, considering the EQS 580′s curb weight is 2,735 kilograms; the 450 is 2,730.

The 580 has an off-road driving mode, which raises the car's height by 25 millimetres to prevent damage under its body.Andrew McCredie/Handout

Not only did we test the EQS on city and highway roads, but we also took the 580 off-roading on a trail built for ATVs. Most people won’t drive a luxury EV off the curb, but it’s useful to see what it can do. Five driving modes are available: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Individual and Off-road, which we used on this route. It raises the EQS’s height by 25 millimetres to prevent damage under its body. It also changes the electronic stability control so the tires don’t slip or rotate, giving the driver more control. Going up steep hills with only the blue sky in view, a front camera is helpful for seeing the road ahead in the centre screen. A rear axle steering system, with a steering angle of up to 10 degrees, reduces the turning circle to 11 metres from 11.9, making it easier to take tight corners on the trail. A hill descent control system is handy when descending steep inclines. Set the speed to three miles an hour and it maintains that speed downhill – the driver doesn’t touch a pedal. Driving through deep mud ruts, the vehicle balances gingerly on two wheels, tackling the obstacles without any issue. After the 1.5-kilometre trek, which took about 30 minutes, the 580 emerges unscathed.

As expected, the 580′s interior is exceptional, especially with the massive 56-inch curved Mercedes-Benz hyperscreen that spans almost pillar to pillar. It’s standard on the 580; optional on the 450. Three screens sit under a glass cover and merge together beautifully. The centre touch screen is bold and futuristic, devoid of traditional buttons. The graphics are crisp and clear; augmented reality is overlayed on top of the navigation screen, showing useful real-time driving info. The front passenger gets their own screen above the glove box to access everything from YouTube to music videos. And if it’s too complicated and confusing to find functions fast, you can turn to the intelligent assistant voice system. Simply say, “Hey Mercedes, turn on my ventilated seats” or “Hey Mercedes, change the ambient colour from blue to red.” It understands natural language and works well every time. The 450 gets a smaller touch screen display, but it’s still attractive and perhaps not as distracting as the hyperscreen.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is expected to arrive at Canadian dealerships this October. Starting at $136,000, it’s expensive, but perhaps a better deal than the EQS sedan, which costs about $10,000 more than the base model.

Tech specs

The EQS SUV is based on Mercedes’ first all-electric vehicle, the EQS sedan.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS
  • Base price: EQS 450 4MATIC SUV: $136,000; EQS 580 4MATIC SUV: $158,500
  • Motors/drive: permanently excited synchronous motors/all-wheel drive
  • Usable battery capacity: 108.4 kilowatt-hours
  • Charging time: Level 2 (9.6 kilowatts) 11.5 hours; DC fast-charger (200 kilowatts) 31 minutes (10 – 80 per cent)
  • Power/torque (lb-ft): EQS 450 – 355/590; EQS 580 – 536/633
  • On-board charger: 9.6 kilowatts
  • Claimed Range: 459 kilometres (both models)
  • Alternatives: Tesla Model X, BMW iX, Audi Q4 e-tron, Cadillac Lyriq, Fisker Ocean, Genesis GV60, Lexus RZ

Looks

The three-pointed star stands out against a black front grille, flagged by an LED light bar with three triangle-shaped lights on either side. There is no front trunk, or frunk, under the hood. Instead, there’s a High-Efficiency Particulate Air, or HEPA, filter. It cleans the incoming outside air and traps up to 99.75 per cent of fine particles, micro particles and pollen, according to the car maker. Only a Mercedes-Benz technician can go under the hood, but drivers can access the windshield wiper reservoir via a port on the driver’s side door.

Interior

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4MATIC comes with an optional third row of seats.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Spacious, luxurious cabin with comfortable front and second-row seats. Getting in and out of the third-row requires the skill of a contortionist. While headroom is good, the third-row seats are tight and short on legroom for taller passengers. They’re best suited for kids. Be careful opening the second-row doors, too. They’re long, wide and easy to ding against other vehicles in tight parking spots.

Performance

Powerful electric motors provide smooth, quick and quiet acceleration. The cabin has little noise and vibration. Despite its tall body, there’s little body roll or lean when cornering or driving along the sweeping, winding roads of the Rocky Mountains. Off-roading capabilities are impressive – it can conquer different terrain easily and confidently. Towing capacity is up to 1,800 kilograms.

Technology

There is a wide range of the latest driving and parking assistant technology plus cool tech touches including the hyperscreen, Augmented Reality Head-up Display and the intelligent assistant with “Hey Mercedes” voice commands that understands 27 languages.

Cargo

There is 645 litres of cargo space behind the second-row seats.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The five-seater has 645 litres of cargo space behind the second-row seats; while the seven-seat option has 565 litres behind the third row. You can also kick under the bumper to open the tailgate.

Verdict

A luxurious, tech-filled electric SUV that’s capable of tackling any terrain, while offering up to three rows of seats, which is still a rarity when it comes to electric vehicles.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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