2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV First Look: Meet The New Face Of Big Luxury EVs

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV First Look: Meet The New Face Of Big Luxury EVs

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Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV front view

Mercedes-Benz

As promised, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its new all-electric EQS SUV, the large-format successor to the currently-available EQS luxury sedan, built on the same EV platform. The EQS SUV marks the third Mercedes-EQ model to rely on the modular EVA2 platform, after the EQS and the EQE sedan, and it will be the largest of all the cars made on the purpose-built, electric-dedicated architecture. A smaller EQE SUV will follow sometime later.

We joined an exclusive group of American onlookers in Frankfurt, Germany for a sneak-peek at the EQS SUV ahead of its official debut today. A big question to be answered was how the Mercedes-Benz designers and engineers would handle the larger follow-up to the aerodynamics wunderkind EQS, which at 0.20 has the lowest drag coefficient of any production vehicle. While many specifics of the EQS SUV’s weight, acceleration, and efficiency numbers are still to be announced, the car’s approach combines aerodynamics with size and luxurious style and comfort.

Two models of the EQS SUV are to arrive at US dealers sometime in late 2022: the EQS 450+ SUV and the EQS 580 4MATIC SUV. These are the first Mercedes-EQ SUVs for the American market, and retail prices have yet to be disclosed.

Sizing up the style

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV profile view

Mercedes-Benz

Despite being 7.8 inches taller and just over an inch wider than the EQS sedan, the EQS SUV retains the same design philosophy as the cab-forward EQS with its “one-bow” sheet metal. In fact, the 202-inch long EQS SUV pushes the cabin even closer to the front axle than on the sedan. That choice helped with the aerodynamics, as well as contributed to the look the designers were going for, according to Robert Lesnik, Director of Exterior Design for Daimler AG.

“Our goal was to do something that looks long and sleek,” Lesnik says of the EQS SUV. “I would say this car is exactly that.”

Lesnik continues that the EQS SUV — which in America will be built in the same plant as the gas-powered Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLS SUVs — actually creates a strong contrast between its internal combustion SUVs, because the EQS SUV looks much lower and sleeker. And, while its wheels are 21 inches, their full diameter including the tires is 790 mm (31 inches), which is the same as on the GLS SUV.

“The diameter of the tire is what matters, because it helps to improve the stance of the car,” Lesnik points out. Black trimming above the wheels and around the front and back of the car not only help to give it a two-tone look, but also reduce the amount of weight from sheet metal used. While the final curb weight of the EQS SUV has yet to be released, a rep onsite from Mercedes-Benz told us it would be around 2.7 tons, or 5,400 pounds. While no lightweight, that’s not out of line for a vehicle in this segment.

Aerodynamic mission accomplished?

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV back view

Mercedes-Benz

Besides the cab-forward design, many other aerodynamic efforts help to reduce the drag on the EQS SUV, although Mercedes-Benz concedes that an SUV will never match the same drag coefficient of a sedan.

Like the EQS sedan, the EQS SUV utilizes a smooth underbody and a radiator shutter that’s usually closed to build its air-slippery base. On top of that, the car’s greenhouse tapers a fair amount to become what Lesnik calls “unusually narrow” in the back. “This car does not need any lines, any creases, any undercuts,” he says. “It just has this nice, full, round surface.”

Although it’s only available as an option, the running board below the doors also adds aerodynamic benefits. Taking inspiration from Formula 1 car underbodies, the EQS SUV running boards drop further down into the less-visible area under the car, in the process directing air behind the wheels for less obstructed flow.

Mercedes EQS SUV wheel close-upMarkkus Rovito/SlashGear

The wheels themselves chip-in to the aerodynamic cause. At first glance it may appear that the trademark Mercedes three-point stars in the wheels are a lattice work. However, the chrome stars are pressed onto a closed surface so air can’t get through, again managing airflow.

Lesnick says that when they started to design the EQS sedan, they didn’t think they would be able to achieve a drag coefficient as low as 0.20. However, they made it happen by working on every detail possible. So, while the EQS SUV will not match the EQS, perhaps it can set its own standard for low drag on an SUV.

A tip of the cap to offroading

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV front view

Mercedes-Benz

Mirroring the model breakdown of the EQS sedan, the luxury electric SUV will come in EQS 450+ SUV and EQS 580 4MATIC SUV models. Both versions will include AIRMATIC air suspension with continuously adjustable damping for comfortable handling as standard. They’ll also both have the enhanced maneuverability of rear-axle steering as standard. That allows a rear wheel steering angle of up to 10 degrees to reduce the turning circle from 39 to 36 feet.

The EQS 450+ SUV makes use of a single, rear-axle motor supplying 265 kW of continuous power and has rear-wheel drive as standard. By contrast, the EQS 580 4MATIC SUV has the fully-variable 4MATIC all-wheel drive with torque shift, and its dual front- and rear-axle motors deliver a continuous 400 kW of total output, or 536 hp, and 633 pound-feet of torque. That should make for a noticeable difference in heft compared to the EQS 450+ SUV’s 355 hp and 419 pound-feet of torque.

You can optionally add 4MATIC all-wheel drive to the EQS 450+ SUV, which it will need to make use of what Mercedes calls the intelligent Offroad driving mode. In addition to the Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual driving modes from the EQS sedan, the EQS SUV’s Offroad mode optimizes the all-wheel drive for unpaved roads, inclines, and light terrain. You can also raise the car’s ground clearance by up to one inch.

The face of Mercedes-EQ

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV grille close-up

Markkus Rovito/SlashGear

There are a couple of other features new to the EQS SUV, including an “occupant presence reminder,” which will sense and alert you to children still located in the rear of the vehicle.

However, much of the EQS SUV harkens back to the EQS sedan, particularly the similar styling decisions. Lesnik says the design team wanted all four of its EVA2 EVs to have many similar or identical details, because such graphical cues are easy to remember and to associate with the brand. These include the unique shape of the “helix” tail lights, illuminated door handles that eject and retract, and the glass-faced Mercedes star-patterned “grille.”

“It’s not a grille anymore,” Lesnik says. “It’s not an air intake. This is the face. There are so many car companies coming up that have nothing in the front. They are, let’s say, faceless. So they all look alike. We believe it’s very important to have a facial expression in the front of every car we have.”

Interior spaciousness

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV side interior

Mercedes-Benz

In the same week as our EQS SUV first look, we also took a first drive of the EQE executive sedan EV. Stepping into the EQS SUV and having a seat in both the front and second row seats imparted a similar elegant and home-away-from-home feeling as the EQE, but with noticeably more headroom and legroom in the SUV. Many of the interior details were the same, such as the 64-color LED ambient lighting, illuminated door sill panels, and panoramic sunroof.

Of course, the EQS SUV has more trunk space with which to work, and that allows seating of up to seven people with an optional third row of seats. That extra row is best sized for two children or else two rather cramped adults. Both the third- and second-row seats fold flat to configure the car for more storage space. With both rows of rear seats up, you get 7 cubic feet of trunk capacity. It’s 31 cubic feet with the third row folded flat and a generous 74 cubic feet of trunk space with both back seat rows folded flat — enough to fit up to four golf bags, according to Mercedes-Benz.

An optional Executive Rear-Seat package pampers back seaters with displays and other luxuries like comfort headrests, heated seats, and wireless device charging.

Displays and speakers for days

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV front interior

Mercedes-Benz

The EQS 580 4MATIC SUV comes standard with the MBUX Hyperscreen, the 56-inch glass-faced array of three infotainment screens: a 12.3-inch driver-side instrument cluster, a 17.7-inch center OLED touchscreen, and a 12.3-inch passenger-side OLED touchscreen. In European countries and an increasing number of other geographies that permit it, that right-side passenger display can entertain the lucky rider with videos and other content. If the driver gets caught looking at it instead of through the windshield, however, the system will detect that and shut off the passenger display with a warning. Big brother is watching, but all in the name of road safety.

A standard 15-speaker Burmester 3D Sound System is compatible with Dolby Atmos for immersive audio. If implemented right, Dolby Atmos creates a soundstage that sends audio elements not just left/right and forward/backward, but also above/over you.

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV back seat displayMarkkus Rovito/SlashGear

For EQS 450+ drivers, meanwhile, the Hyperscreen array is optional. Mercedes’ standard 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 12.8-inch center OLED touchscreen combination was still highly functional when we tested it on our EQE 350+ drive first drive. For both EQS SUV models, the optional head-up display that projects vital navigation info onto the windshield was a favorite perk when at the wheel of the EQE sedans.

No range yet, but also no anxiety

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV rear three-quarters

Mercedes-Benz

The MBUX navigation system can also estimate whether the battery’s charge is enough to get to your destination, and dynamically updates the calculation based on traffic conditions and your driving style. Available charge points conveniently show in the map.

While we don’t yet have the specs for the EQS SUV’s 0-60 mph acceleration, top speed, battery pack kWh, or all-electric range, we do have some estimated charging times. From a Level 2 wall charger, the EQS SUV should go from 10 to 100 percent charged in 11.25 hours, and when using 110 kW DC Fast Charging, it will top up from 10 to 80 percent in 31 mins.

American customers seeking DC fast charging on the road will have free access to more than 60,000 Electrify America fast-charging stations for the first two years after purchasing an EQS SUV. The Mercedes me Charge membership will allow you to access all these stations using a single account, and Electrify America is planning to add another 10,000 charging stations by 2025.

In a gesture to sustainability as a part of its “Ambition 2039” goal to produce a completely carbon-neutral vehicle fleet by 2039, Mercedes-Benz aims to offset any power drawn from Mercedes me Charge in Europe and the US with renewable energy fed into the grid.

The electric luxury SUV world is heating up

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV front angle

Mercedes-Benz

When it rolls into US dealerships sometime in late 2022, the EQS SUV will be the luxury electric SUV option from Mercedes-Benz, to be joined by the company’s less-powerful and smaller EQB crossover that will also launch in the US sometime in 2022. US pricing for both are still to be announced. The EQS SUV will arrive to existing competition in the segment, from models such as the BMW iX xDrive50 and the Tesla Model X.

If Mercedes-Benz wants to compete with those alternative strictly on price and electric range, if will have to beat the $83,200 base price/305-324 miles of range of the iX xDrive50 and the highest-in-class base price of $114,990/333 miles of estimated range from the Model X. With the EQS sedans measuring up at $102,310 base/350 miles for the EQS 450+ sedan and $125,900 base/340 miles for the EQS 580 4MATIC sedan, the EQS SUVs are likely to fetch a price that does not beat all of the competition, with an electric range that remains to be seen.

However, from we have observed so far, Mercedes will not rely on the numbers alone to sell the EQS SUV to electric luxury connoisseurs. Rather, like it has been with the EQS sedans, it seems to be confident that the EQS SUVs combination of signature looks and styling, high-level technological offerings, and interior comfort will win the day. We’re looking forward to getting behind the wheel ourselves, to find out whether that’s the case. 

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