The EQS SUV is related to the EQS hatchback that arrived late last year, and while it’s built on a version of the same EVA2 skateboard architecture as that flagship electric car, in many respects it’s a completely different vehicle—and more of a trendsetter in the U.S. vehicle market.
That’s of course because its format is a popular one. It’s also the model in this EV lineup that Mercedes-Benz has decided to make in the U.S.—in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with cells from battery supplier Envision AESC and its own local facility.
Unlike its fellow Best Car To Buy finalist, the Cadillac Lyriq, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV has the chops—and the modes—for trail driving if not hardcore off-roading. And it’s one of the few new electric SUVs to offer a third row of seating, for a total seating capacity of up to seven. With a range topping 300 miles in some versions, it gives a lot more families a reason to trade in their gasoline SUV for electric.
What does the EQS SUV cost? Well above the Audi Q8 E-Tron, BMW iX, and Rivian R1S, but less than a Tesla Model X. In the U.S. it starts at $105,550, for the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive EQS 450+, which makes 355 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. Stepping up to the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive EQS 450 4Matic costs just $3,000 more, while the EQS 580 4Matic ups the price to $127,100 and pushes power to 536 hp and 633 lb-ft. A top-of-the-line Pinnacle model costs $133,350.
Driving range is impressive for such a large, heavy vehicle—starting at around 6,000 pounds. The base EQS 450+ goes 305 miles on a charge, according to the EPA, while the other variants go 285 miles.
All versions in the lineup come with the same 108.4-kwh battery pack, and the EQS SUV can fast-charge at up to 200 kw, according to Mercedes-Benz. On a 150-kw CCS connector, in a session during Best Car To Buy testing, we saw a steady rate far below that but close enough not to question Mercedes’ claimed peak time of just 31 minutes from 10% to 80%.
We like a lot about how the EQS SUV drives. Its acceleration is precise and linear, and the combination of ride quality and reasonably nimble handling afforded by its air suspension and adaptive damping is rivaled by few. With available rear-wheel steering, the EQS SUV handles like a much smaller vehicle. And in its Offroad mode, that suspension allows 9.0 inches of ground clearance, in a vehicle that you wouldn’t suspect as so trail-ready given details like its running boards, aero bodywork, and flush door handles.
We do have two rather significant bones to pick with the EQS SUV—one of which you can work around. One of them is the 56.0-inch wall-of-glass Hyperscreen interface, which is prone to reflection and simply too busy and cluttered, or migraine-inducing, for a lot of tastes.
Thankfully, unless you’re going for the 580 version you can opt for a simplified layout. The other off-putting element that can’t be changed is the EQS SUV’s brake pedal feel, which we’d rank as among the worst among any brand, luxury or not. In slow, creeping gridlock conditions, the brakes would unexpectedly grip earlier than intended, bringing an imprecise feel, and in harder stops it feels as if you’re pressing against a foam board that changes position a bit each time.
Check back Jan. 4 for our announcement on which model makes the final cut and is named our Best Car To Buy 2023.
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- DOE research looks at EV charging infrastructure vulnerability
- Full US EV tax credit guidance delayed to March