2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4Matic
(Photo/Paul Eisenstein)

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV Review: Luxury, Comfort, Impressive On- and Off-Road Performance

Mercedes-Benz got into the battery-car market in a big way last year when it launched the new EQS sedan — the all-electric equivalent of its classic S-Class. For those who want more room and flexibility, the automaker is following up with the new EQS SUV.

Three versions will be offered in the U.S. with an electric range of up to 305 miles. And two feature all-wheel-drive, which GearJunkie discovered delivers better off-road manners than we originally expected.

If you’re looking to go all-electric your choices are growing fast. By the end of this year, there’ll be more than 40 models covering a broad range of product segments — everything from compact hatchbacks to full-size pickups.

Mercedes-Benz is determined to dominate the premium end of the battery-electric vehicle market. It made its first move with last year’s launch of the big EQS sedan and has followed up with the compact EQB SUV. In the months to come, even more new entries are planned, including a crossover version of the original EQS.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 450
(Photo/Mercedes)

Less than creatively dubbed the EQS SUV, it shares the same Electrical Vehicle Architecture, or EVA, underpinning the original sedan, as well as the upcoming EQE line.

It’s a skateboard-like platform that moves both motors and batteries under the load floor, freeing up ample room for both passengers and cargo. Significantly more space, it turns out, with the EQS SUV.

Mercedes EQS SUV Review: One-Bow, Two Different Takes

The two different body styles share a number of design details, including the distinctive black panel that replaces a conventional grille — since there’s no need to flow cooling air into an engine compartment. But while the crossover picks up on the sedan’s “One-Bow” design, it’s not nearly as exaggerated — nor will it likely be as controversial.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4MATIC AMG Line
(Photo/Mercedes)

When it comes to battery-electric vehicles, clean aerodynamics are critical to delivering maximum range. The four-door EQS boasts the lowest drag coefficient of any other vehicle in mass production by adopting essentially a single line curving from nose to tail.

The SUV does maintain a somewhat coupe-like roofline, but it flows into a taller tailgate. And that has numerous benefits, albeit with one key tradeoff.

On the plus side, there’s far more headroom in the second row than in the somewhat cramped back of the EQS sedan. And the SUV even gets a third-row bench, albeit one that falls into the “penalty box” category if any adult has to squeeze in there. Cargo space is fairly substantial, especially if you fold down the power split-fold seats.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4Matic
(Photo/Mercedes)

EQS SUV Range & Charging Times

The tradeoff is range. The taller crossover delivers a maximum of 305 miles in the single-motor EQS 450+, while the EQS 450 4Matic and EQS 580 4Matic come in with — surprisingly — identical EPA ratings of 285 miles per charge. By comparison, the EQS 450+ sedan manages 350 miles on a full charge, and the EQS 580 4Matic sedan has an EPA-rated 340 miles.

Less efficient aerodynamics account for only part of the lost range. The crossover weighs anywhere from 5,963 to 6,228 pounds. The sedan tops out at 5,888 pounds.

EQS SUV Power & Performance

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 450
(Photo/Mercedes)

All models, incidentally, share the same 108.4kWH battery pack. And all three can go from a 10% to 80% state-of-charge in just 31 minutes using a public quick charger putting out at least 200kWH. Using a 240V, 32-amp home charger will get you from absolutely drained to 100% in 12.5 hours.

While it has to make do with a single motor, the EQS 450+ still delivers reasonably impressive numbers, at 355 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. Anyone who has driven a current-generation battery-electric vehicle understands that such figures can be misleading.

Electric motors hit maximum torque the moment they start spinning and the base SUV version I took out from downtown Denver delivered a decidedly sporty launch, hitting 60 in 6.5 seconds.

It easily merged into traffic on I-25 as I headed into the foothills of the Rockies, executing smooth, confident passes, even at speeds in excess of 70 mph. And where vehicles with internal combustion engines would begin losing power, higher altitudes had no impact whatsoever on the battery drivetrain.

EQS SUV Drive Impressions

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4Matic
(Photo/Paul Eisenstein)

Despite the heft of the EQS 450+, it proved surprisingly supple on the winding back roads outside the Mile High City. Give credit to the SUV’s standard Airmatic air suspension and adaptive damping system. But there’s also the low mounting position of the battery pack notably dropping the center of gravity compared to a GLS crossover — while helping provide a near 50:50 weight distribution.

The mid-range EQS 450 4Matic adds, as its name suggests, an all-electric take on Mercedes’ familiar all-wheel-drive system. It also boosts torque to 590 pound-feet, though horsepower holds at 355.

While I didn’t have time to drive all three models, I next jumped behind the wheel of the EQS 580 4Matic, heading even further into the hills for a chance to take the SUV off road. Making 536 ponies and 633 pound-feet, it proved even snappier off the line, hitting 60 in 4.5 seconds. And it was even more aggressive tipping the throttle at freeway speeds.

1-Pedal Driving

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4MATIC AMG Line
(Photo/Mercedes)

One thing I appreciated about the EQS SUV was the availability of 1-Pedal driving. All battery-electric vehicles use brake regeneration to recapture energy normally lost during braking and coasting, sending it back to the battery to extend range.

With the EQS family, the amount of “regen” can be electronically controlled by the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. In the maximum setting, it’s like downshifting an internal combustion engine three gears — but without the mileage penalty. And it allows the driver to speed up or slow down, even come to a stop, simply by modulating the throttle.

The one drawback: you can’t leave the EQS in 1-Pedal mode like some other EVs. You have to remember to reset it every time, and to shut off the creep mode that has the SUV crawl forward at a stop like a conventional gas-powered vehicle.

Heading Off-Road

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4Matic
(Photo/Paul Eisenstein)

After a 90-minute drive out into the Rocky Mountain hinterlands, I caught up with my Mercedes guide who pointed to an easily missed track leading off the main road.

The EQS 580 4Matic I was driving came with an optional off-road package activated by a rotary knob on the center console. It instantly adjusted a variety of vehicle settings, including the air suspension, steering, and throttle.

While the trail we traversed was no Moab, it offered enough steep, rubble-strewn hills, moguls, and sharp turns to challenge most soft-roaders. Not so the EQS. It proved uncannily sure-footed, easily overcoming the loose soil and gravel. But the most impressive part was the way it took tight corners.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4MATIC AMG Line
Transparent hood screen, which is a useful feature off-road; (photo/Paul Eisenstein)

The off-road package also allowed the SUV’s rear-wheel-steering to turn a full 10 degrees, rather than 4.5 degrees like other versions of the crossover. (Buyers, however, can upgrade the 4WS package through an over-the-air update.)

Luxury a Mercedes Buyer Would Expect

In reality, few EQS SUV buyers will ever experience those sorts of off-road conditions. For the rest of its customers, the crossover is loaded up with all sorts of appealing luxury and high-tech features.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 450 4MATIC
(Photo/Mercedes)

As with the original EQS sedan, you can opt for the Mercedes Hyperscreen which spreads across the instrument panel from pillar to pillar. It features three digital displays behind its glass panel, including one for the passenger riding shotgun. A rear-seat infotainment system is also on the checklist.

As with most other new Mercedes models, all versions of the EQS feature the MBUX voice assistant, allowing a driver to control a variety of infotainment and vehicle functions using plain English commands, much like those used by the Amazon Alexa system. There’s also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Qi wireless smartphone charging system, and more.

The EQS SUV also features a variety of advanced driver assistance systems, though the highway assistance technology still requires you to maintain a light grip on the steering wheel.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4MATIC AMG Line
(Photo/Mercedes)

Sounding Off

To ease stress, there’s a Burmester 3D audio system with Dolby Atmos. And, notes Mercedes, the SUVs come with an “Enhanced ENERGIZING Comfort health and wellness system boosts drivers’ attentiveness and well-being while reducing sleepiness and stress. Programs intelligently combine comfort and vehicle functions and now includes ENERGIZING NATURE programs that offer soothing sounds such as ForestGlade, Sounds of the Sea and Summer Rain.”

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4MATIC AMG Line
Center console details; (photo/Mercedes)

With the sound system turned off, I realized the tomb-quiet nature of the EQS. For those who prefer a little audio accompaniment, you can turn on one of the pre-programmed “Soundscapes” which digitally match the way you’re working the throttle. Let’s just say the concept doesn’t work for everyone.

2023 Mercedes EQS SUV: Pricing & Availability

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4MATIC AMG Line
(Photo/Mercedes)

All three versions of the 2023 Mercedes EQS are produced at the automaker’s Alabama assembly plant, and they’re just starting to roll into dealer showrooms. With the ongoing shortage of semiconductors, availability could be limited in the months ahead.

The new entry is an impressive package and, as some EV buyers begin to suffer from Tesla fatigue, the Mercedes EQS SUV provides a stylishly distinctive, competent, and well-equipped alternative.

Pricing starts at $104,400 for the EQS 450+ SUV, jumping to $107,400 for the EQS 450 4Matic SUV. And the top-level EQ comes in at $125,900. Add $1,150 to those numbers for the delivery fee. But, in today’s market, you might also run into a dealer markup, especially if you’re in a rush to drive the EQS SUV home right away.

Paul Eisenstein
By

Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning publisher, photographer, editor, and one of the world’s most widely published automotive journalists. His work appears in a wide range of print, broadcast, and electronic outlets, including AutoWise, GearJunkie, NBC News, Forbes Wheels, and his own automotive website, TheDetroitBureau.com. He’s a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror, and board member and past president of the Automotive Press Association. J.D. Power also named him a “Pioneer of the Internet."