If you haven’t noticed, we’ve entered the next phase of the electric vehicle evolution with segments such as executive sedans, pickup trucks and full-size sport utility vehicles beginning to embrace the power of the electron. No longer are EVs relegated to sub-compact hatchbacks, small crossovers and compact sedans.

The latest example comes from Mercedes-EQ, the all-electric brand of Mercedes-Benz, in the form of a full-size SUV based on the automaker’s luxury sport sedan currently available in Canada.

The 2023 EQS SUV shares the same MEB architecture and many bells and whistles with that sedan, the EQS, but offers seven-passenger seating and other attributes that make the full-size SUV segment so popular with Canadian consumers. Also popular with us Canucks is all-wheel drive, so little surprise both EQS SUV models coming to dealerships next month have power at all four wheels. The EQS 450 4Matic SUV has an MSRP of $136,000 and the EQS 580 4Matic SUV an MSRP of $158,500. Both are built at the Mercedes’ production facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

While it’s unlikely that many owners of this $150,000 luxury SUV will be off-roading, our time spent on an off-road course in the Rocky Mountains demonstrated the full-size EV is more than capable and up to the task. CREDIT: Andrew McCredie

I had the opportunity to drive both models over the course of a couple of days in Denver and into the nearby Rocky Mountains, including on a short off-road loop that underscored the capabilities of a vehicle one usually wouldn’t associate with backroad rough stuff. Before some impressions from my time behind the wheel, let’s dive into some of the facts and figures of this all-electric SUV.

As mentioned, the EQS SUV shares the same platform as the EQS sedan, and that includes the same long wheelbase, however shorter front and rear overhangs give the SUV a shorter overall length. The SUV is also more than 20 centimetres higher than the sedan. As with the sedan, and thanks to that flat EV architecture, cabin space is very generous, and even with the optional third-row seating, the rear cargo space offers room for a couple of full-size suitcases. Fold down those power seats and the big rear hold will swallow up four full-size sets of golf clubs. Likewise, passenger room is excellent, particularly in the second row where head- and legroom easily accommodate six-footers and beyond. One thing this electric vehicle does not have is a frunk, and in fact the only access to the front hood is at the hands of a Mercedes-EQ technician. Under the hood is the HEPA filter, standard on the 580 and optional on the 450, and standing for High Efficiency Particulate Air. The filter cleans the incoming outside air and in recirculation mode, the air is filtered by the interior air filter of the automatic climate control system. To fill the windshield washer reservoir, you pop open a small drawer on the front fender. Towing capacity is 1,800 kilograms (3,980 lbs.).

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

All EQS 4Matic SUVs have an electric drivetrain (eATS) on the rear and front axles, with torque shift function that continuously distributes the drive torque between the front and the rear electric motors. The electric motors on the front and rear axles are permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM). The chassis features a four-link axle at the front and a multi-link suspension at the rear, and air suspension with continuously adjustable damping ADS+ is standard equipment. The vehicle level can be raised by several centimetres, the standard rear-axle steering is set at 4.5 degrees, however there is an optional version with up to 10 degrees steering angle. Drive modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport, Individual and Offroad.

As to the range and charging, each model has an EPA range of 459 kilometres, the lithium-ion battery boasts a 108.4 kWh capacity, and each model has a maximum charging rate of 200kW, with Mercedes-EQ reporting a 10 to 80 per cent charge rate of 31 minutes on a DC fast charger.

As to trims, each model offers Premium, Sport, Sport Interior, Premium Rear seating and Executive Rear seating packages. EQS 580 comes standard with the massive Hyperscreen — which runs the length and width of the dashboard — while the 450 comes standard with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 17.7-inch media display. The Hyperscreen is available as an option on the 450.

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

The EQS SUV is built on the Mercedes-EQ new EVA2 platform. Photo by Mercedes-EQ

Now, to the drive. The first thing you notice when you jump into the cockpit is that this is a Mercedes. The comfort, luxury and attention to detail is first class all the way, and when you grip that big meaty sport steering wheel you know this vehicle is built for driving. The second thing you notice is that this is a big vehicle. As someone who spends most of his working life in and around EVs, the sheer size of the EQS SUV really stood out, but once under way that immense sense sort of melted away. That was due to the big power output number — the 450 has a 265kW output (355 hp) and the 580 a beefy 400kW (536 hp) — the air suspension and that rear-axle steering, which made negotiating city-street driving a breeze. Out on the highway the vehicle was stable and sure-footed, and never put a wheel wrong ascending and descending several mountain switchbacks. Confidence inspiring is an understatement.

That rear-axle steering, the optional 10-degree version, really showed off its prowess on the off-road course, where the terrain was narrow and required some tight maneuvers. Likewise, the off-road mode setting provided a higher ride height and a hill descent feature that flawlessly controlled the speed going down a steep and rocky pitch. Capable off-roaders share a common trait, and that is a stiff chassis, and you’ll be challenged to find a stiffer one  than the all-new EVA2 platform that underpins the EQS SUV. Not sure how many EQS SUVs owners will take their rigs off the beaten track, but they will be secure in the knowledge that they can with confidence if they want to.

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

With the front hood locked down and only accessible by a Mercedes-EQS service technician, this side port on the front fender is where you fill the windshield wiper reservoir. Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

first drive: 2023 mercedes-eqs suv

2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV Photo by Andrew McCredie

What owners will love about the EQS SUV is how refined, quiet and smooth the ride is. In other words, it has the all the trademarks of an electric vehicle, however, thanks to renowned Mercedes’ build quality, luxury appointments and cutting-edge technology, it puts it in the argument as one of the best luxury EVs in the 2023 model year. For that reason, this is the kind of vehicle that keeps Elon Musk up at night. Despite protestations from Tesla fan boys and girls, Tesla interiors do not come anywhere near those of German sport luxury automakers in terms of style, design, comfort and élan. That’s not an opinion; that’s a fact.

The final word on the 2023 EQS SUV is that you certainly pay a big price for this full-size, all-electric sport utility in either of its iterations, but you most certainly get what you pay for. And it underscores that the coming-soon SUV and crossovers from Mercedes-EQ — the EQE debuts next month — will be very desirable all-electric vehicles.

Keyword: First Drive: 2023 Mercedes-EQS SUV

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