Last year, Mercedes-Benz introduced the world to its first modern EV built on an electric-specific architecture, the aerodynamic and distinctive EQS. The slippery full-size luxury saloon is based on the modular EVA2 platform, suitable for a variety of different vehicle types including the smaller, lower EQE saloon. Today, the automaker is going in the opposite direction, introducing us to the three-row EQS SUV.
The EQS SUV is taller than its similarly named saloon relative, but many of its specifications and features will feel familiar to fans of the existing Mercedes EV lineup. Most obviously, the company’s “one-bow” styling theme comes on strong in the EQS SUV, with an aerodynamic, sloping front end and a tapered greenhouse helping it make a strong first impression. Offered in EQS 450, EQS 450 4Matic, and EQS 580 forms, the SUV should also be able to hit up to 373 miles of range (albeit on the optimistic WLTP scale rather than the EPA’s more realistic measure). And like any other modern Benz, the EQS SUV is a technical tour de force.
Styled For The Wind
The EQS SUV looks decidedly futuristic, with a gloss-black grille panel housing a big, centrally located Mercedes star. Triangular headlights with three lighting elements each (a Mercedes S-family signature) bookend the smiley grille, giving the EQS SUV a friendly appearance up front. Shoppers can choose between Electric Art and AMG-Line body styling, the former getting a smooth front bumper and the latter receiving more aggressive features like corner air curtains and a chin spoiler on the front end. The AMG cues will likely more popular with EQS owners, and they give the slightly amorphous bumper some visual interest.
Like the EQS saloon, the crossover has a clamshell bonnet that dovetails into the wheel arch, as well as a funky pop-out washer fluid filler on the left front fender. There’s also a very short visual dash-to-axle ratio, with the base of the windshield residing nearly above the front axle’s centre line. Step back, however, and it becomes clear that it’s a visual trick of the styling, as the actual dashboard and seats are still well back from the wheel. There also isn’t a frunk ahead of the passenger cabin, meaning all of that space is used for electrical components accessible only by Mercedes technicians – the bonnet doesn’t open from the inside.
As part of that cab-forward appearance, the EQS SUV gets the saloon’s one-bow design feature that arches from the top of the front wing/fender to the tapering D-pillar. The crossover has a squarer roofline than the saloon to make room for its optional third-row seat, but there’s still lots of family resemblance. That extends to the full-width taillights as well, which feature helix-style signature lighting that’s intended to recall the filament of an Edison light bulb. The contrasting black roof panel wraps down to incorporate the rear hatch glass, giving the EQS SUV a cohesive, sleek appearance.
Those who like the EQS saloon’s styling will probably appreciate the SUV as well, although to our eyes, the sloping front end and swoopy D-pillar look a bit like a MPV from the early 2000s. The EQS SUV also looks a wee bit bland and featureless after the initial shock of its wind-cheating design wears off. Even so, the styling will undoubtedly help the EQS make the most of its electrons – although Mercedes didn’t confirm its drag coefficient, we doubt it’s far off from the 0.20 of the EQS saloon or the 0.22 of the EQE saloon. It might even unseat the Tesla Model X’s 0.25 to become the world’s sleekest SUV.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV will come in two different trim levels – EQS 450 and EQS 580 – with the former offering dual-motor all-wheel drive as an option and the latter getting it standard. Whether in single- or dual-motor form, the EQS 450 has 355 bhp and 419 pound-feet of torque, both improvements over the EQS 450 saloon’s 329 bhp and 406 lb-ft. The EQS 580 SUV’s stouter dual motors produce a combined 536 bhp and 633 lb-ft, up a similar amount over the saloon. Power for all trim levels comes from a 107.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery mounted in the floor.
Mercedes claims the EQS 450 can achieve an impressive 600 kilometres (or 373 miles) of range using the WLTP scale, likely corresponding to an EPA number of 300 miles or so. Range estimates for the more powerful EQS 580 aren’t available, but even the least efficient model should be able to hit 275 miles before needing a jolt. When it’s time to recharge, the EQS is capable of 200-kW charging speeds – at a DC fast charger with an average output of 110 kW, the battery can go from 10 to 80 percent in 31 minutes. Using a 240-volt wall box, the 10-to-100-percent charge takes 11 hours and 15 minutes.
Once you’re juiced up and ready to hit the road, the EQS SUV obliges with standard four-corner air suspension with adaptive damping, as well as 10-degree rear-axle steering that will provide better low-speed manoeuvrability and improved highway stability. We expect the crossover to drive very similarly to the EQS saloon, which is impressively poised, quiet, and smooth at speed while also offering some sportiness thanks to its well-damped suspension and instantaneous electric torque. The EQS saloon’s intuitive intelligent regenerative braking should appear as well, slowing the crossover in heavy traffic while allowing it to coast on free-flowing highways.
The EQS SUV’s interior will feel instantly familiar to anyone who’s spent time in either the EQS or the EQE saloons. The 450 model comes standard with a portrait-oriented 12.8-inch touchscreen display housed within a slanted binnacle that takes a note from the cabin of the S-Class. Optional on the 450 and standard on the 580 will be the headline-grabbing MBUX Hyperscreen, a single sheet of high-strength glass that hides a 17.7 OLED center display, a 12.3-inch instrument panel, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen directly in front of the passenger to allow them to make navigation suggestions or listen to their own audio sources.
Both infotainment options make use of Mercedes’ new zero-layer software that keeps the navigation map on-screen permanently and overlays relevant tiles – phone, audio, comfort, etc. – as appropriate. The system also features machine learning, so if you always call home after leaving the office, the EQS SUV will suggest a phone call at quitting time via a subtle on-screen notification. The Burmester 3D audio system incorporates Dolby Atmos technology, so it should sound incredible. If the embedded tech isn’t your style, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
Cabin materials in the 2023 EQS SUV are excellent, with gorgeous swaths of curved wood on the centre console and door armrests, soft-touch plastics and MB-Tex faux leather on the dashboard, and standard leather seat upholstery for all passengers. Mercedes will also include multi-colour accent lighting on the EQS SUV – Miami night club vibes are the touch of a button away, while a standard panoramic sunroof should allow plenty of au naturel ambiance.
The Mercedes EQS SUV comes standard with a two-row, five-seat passenger layout, and there’s an incredible amount of room. The seats are mounted higher thanks to the elevated roofline, eliminating the slightly awkward high-floor feeling of the EQS saloon. The second row slides and reclines electrically, balancing out space and comfort for passengers and cargo (or passengers and more passengers, in the case of the optional third row).
The sixth and seventh seating positions are a bit tight on shoulder room – that tapering greenhouse does come at a cost – but there’s enough knee, leg, and headroom for average-sized adults. With all the seats up, the EQS SUV has about 7 cubic feet of cargo space, expanding to 71 cubic feet with the back two rows folded. Go without the optional rear seats and your cargo area is between 23 and 74 cubic feet.
There’s no denying that’s not a lot of space given the EQS SUV’s large stature, up only about 28 litres (1 cubic foot) over the low-roof EQS. That’s because the crossover is actually only 5,130 millimetres (202.0 inches) long from bumper to bumper, 132 mm (5.2 in. less) than the saloon. That said, the EQS SUV makes the most of its shared 3,210 mm (126.4-inch) wheelbase by being 213 mm (8.4 inches) taller than the four-door, reducing claustrophobia significantly.
As most automakers know, crossovers are essential to a healthy bottom line. And while the 2022 EQS has been a reasonably popular sight in posh neighbourhoods, it still doesn’t have the high-riding form factor that luxury customers demand. By incorporating the best parts of the saloon into a crossover shape, the EQS SUV should be an instant success for Mercedes. Adding to the intrigue is the EQS SUV's concept preview, which was actually a Maybach – is a super-luxe EV crossover on the way?
Refreshingly for US customers, they will be the first market to experience the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV, which goes on sale toward the end of the summer. Pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet, but the SUV should be a few grand more expensive than the $103,360 EQS 450 or the $126,950 EQS 580. Built at the company’s manufacturing facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, it won’t be long at all before the EQS SUV is the darling of private school drop-off lines.