2024 Mercedes-Benz EV SUV: quirky, retains brand’s top status

2024 Mercedes-Benz EV SUV: quirky, retains brand’s top status

In its second year, the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+, the top-line electric sport utility vehicle, has improved from its strong debut. It’s what enthusiasts already liked but with more reasons to appreciate the nearly century-old manufacturer.

The luxury vehicle is available in three standard trims, EQS 450+, EQS 450 4MATIC and EQS 580 4MATIC, the latter two choices with the Mercedes-Benz all-wheel drive system. Starting prices range from $105,450 to $116,073.

All versions accelerate well, 0-to-60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds in the base model and 5.8 seconds in 4Matic trims.

For high-performance buyers, there’s also the new Mercedes-Maybach EQS 680 SUV. It’s additionally opulent and powerful with a 649-horsepower powertrain sourced from the Mercedes-AMG EQS sedan. It completes the 0-to-60 mph standard in 4.1 seconds.

All choices have what’s expected from the German carmaker: quality materials, strong rides, top safety features and state-of-the-art technology.

Regardless of choice, expectations abound with six-figure SUVs. The EQS electric powertrain takes the smooth, comfortable and powerful Mercedes-Benz reputation to another level. It’s additionally quick and it’s agile, the result of four-wheel drive. It’s an SUV with a luxury sedan persona.

Mercedes-Benz doesn’t do gaudy. But it gets close with its lineups’ standard Hyperscreen. It’s a 56-inch curved display housing three screens. The massive infotainment screen transitions into the digital gauge cluster on the driver’s side and also a front passenger screen. The passenger-side setup isn’t intuitive but it can control the audio system, massaging seat functions and other tech features.

It’s easy to forget the EQS is an SUV. But utility is its middle name. The increasingly popular segment, at least in part, is based on its ability to haul people and their stuff.

There’s plenty of room for people in the first two rows with lots of headroom and legroom. Captain’s chairs are a second-row option and are a welcomed SUV feature.

The EQS shares an unfortunate trait with other SUVs with third-row options. Its larger seating capacity isn’t an afterthought, but the back row is best suited by diminutive occupants.

With its two-row configuration, the EQS SUV has 31 cubic feet of space behind the back seat. With the rear seats folded, the area expands to 74.2 cubic feet. Among competitors, it’s a larger cargo area than offered in the Audi Q8 e-tron. But the BMW iX, Rivian R1S and Tesla Model X have larger cargo areas.

The slightly larger 118 kWh battery pack (the 2023 model was equipped with a 108.4 kWh battery) is rated at a combined 85 MPGe. The EQS 450+ has a 305-mile range; the EQS 450 4Matic and EQS 580 both are rated with ranges of 285 miles. The manufacturer reports the SUV can charge from 10 to 80 percent in as quickly as 31 minutes.

Despite its overall appeal, the SUV has three oddities. The side running boards do not retract and can be as much of a hindrance as beneficial. They’re shin level are positioned for potentially awkward foot placements.

Mercedes-Benz stylists decided to use its three-pointed star emblem in replicas as part of the decorative interior trim and on the front grille. The insignia has a long history and it’s handsome as one star. But the collection looks like bugs on the grille. They’re also more distracting than attractive on the dash.

Lastly, the SUV’s driving appeal is hampered every time a new trek begins. There’s a substantial starting lag as if the parking brake may still be engaged. It’s not a deal breaker but it is annoying, particularly for the top-line vehicle with a $114,000 price tag.

James Raia a syndicated automotive columnist in Sacramento. Email address: james@jamesraia.com