3 Reasons to Splurge on the V8 in the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

Full-size luxury SUVs are the ultimate, multi-passenger, premium transport. This fact was reaffirmed in our minds after spending a week with the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 4MATIC. No other segment can match the combination of towing, cargo capacity, comfort, and luxury.

As is the case with higher-end vehicles, there is a lot of choice when shopping for the GLS. Currently, three core models can be selected, the GLS 450, GLS 580, or AMG GLS 63. Each model increases the amount of power and opulence over the one before it.

But are the upgrades worth it? It’s a tough question to answer when discussing the AMG 63, as it’s significantly more expensive than the two regular models. It also offers a very different sort of SUV experience.

If we focus on just the Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 vs the GLS 580, we feel the latter is the better choice. Here are three reasons why.

The Performance Factor

We’ll start with the most obvious difference – performance. Under the hood of the GLS 580 is a turbocharged 4.0-liter mild hybrid V8. It pumps out 510 horsepower (hp) and 538 pound feet (lb-ft) of torque. That’s a significant increase over the GLS 450’s 3.0-liter turbocharged mild hybrid V6. It only generates 375 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

That translate to a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.7 seconds for the GLS 580 compared to 5.8 seconds for the GLS 450. But drag racing isn’t the reason we recommend the V8. The engine is less strained under load and provides more low-end torque. If towing near the SUV’s 7,700 lbs limit, or when carrying six passengers and a lot of gear, having ample power on tap makes for a smoother, quieter driving experience.

There is a downside to all that power though – fuel economy. With the V8, the GLS 580 is only rated for 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Compared to the GLS 450’s numbers of 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, there is a significant gap.

Suited Style

A true luxury experience is all-inclusive, pandering to all five senses. That makes sound a factor in the GLS’ user experience. To our ears, there isn’t much better music than the soft purr of a silky smooth V8. It makes the SUV feel more special when driving it, more like a top luxury car.

Although it may be completely in our heads, it also feels a bit smoother behind the wheel. Then there is the inevitable show-off factor, where having a larger number on the back of a Mercedes-Benz announces to the world that the owner isn’t driving some sort of base model.

The Price Gap Equation

Finally, we come to the price gap. The starting MSRP for the GLS 450 is $87,000 before destination charges. The GLS 580 clocks in at base MSRP of $117,000. That’s an increase of 34.5% - over a third of the price.

Load up the two models to feature similar levels of equipment, and the GLS 450 now runs at $102,740, while the GLS 580 will cost $125,210. That drops the difference to 21.9%. Although a price gap of roughly $22,500 is by no means insignificant, for context, this is like buying a $36,561 dollar vehicle over a $30,000 one.

If that sort of increase is manageable by prospective owners, we say go for the GLS 580.

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Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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Join the conversation
  • Robert B. Fedich Robert B. Fedich on Feb 23, 2024

    I would like to see a comparison between the GLS and the new Lexus GX. Bang for the buck ? Off road capabilities ?

  • Ray Ray on Feb 23, 2024

    I drive an "older" 2015 GL350 diesel. 7,500lb towing, 455 ftlb torque, and 20+ mpg around town. No, I'm NOT going to trade it in!