2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS Review and Test Drive
Mercedes dives headfirst into the EV era with its all-new EQS flagship sedan.
Until recently, electric vehicles (EV) amounted to little more than a blip on the U.S. car market's radar. Yes, Tesla exploded onto the scene and quickly developed a strong following that continues to grow, but battery-powered transportation was far from mainstream outside of places like Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Seemingly overnight, that has changed as automakers introduce all-new EV models and electric versions of popular gas-powered vehicles. Among them is the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan, a full-size, five-passenger luxury car that is the electric counterpart to the company's fossil-fuel powered S-Class sedan. Joining it are the EQB small SUV, a large EQS SUV, an upcoming EQE sedan, and an EQE SUV in 2024. These new models play a role in Mercedes' plan for EVs to comprise at least half its lineup by 2030.
The debut of the EQS is particularly significant because, as the pinnacle of the brand's lineup, it represents Mercedes's vision for the future of its electric vehicles, not only in terms of luxury and technology but also the capability and performance of its electric powertrains.
Available trim levels for the 2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS sedan include the rear-wheel drive (RWD) 450+, the 580 4Matic, and the AMG 4Matic (4Matic refers to all-wheel drive). Base prices range from the low $100,000s to the high $140,000s, including the destination charge to ship the car from the assembly plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, to your local dealership.
For this EQS sedan review, I tested the AMG 4Matic on northern New England's highways and secondary roads. The car came painted in Cardinal Red Metallic and equipped with optional 21-inch AMG wheels, AMG carbon ceramic brakes, a dashcam, AMG Track Pace and Air Balance packages, and a mid-level Executive Trim package with massaging front seats and four-zone automatic climate control. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) came in at about $157,800, including the $1,050 destination charge. Mercedes-Benz provided the vehicle for this EQS sedan review.
2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS Review: The Design
Mercedes introduced us to its first four-door coupe with its debut of the CLS-Class nearly 20 years ago. The 2022 EQS takes this approach to the extreme, with the sloped rear window and bodyline curves and bulges from almost every angle. At first glance, I was sure that the EQS was larger than the S-Class sedan, but upon further inspection, the two share similar dimensions.
Inside, the EQS sedan proves worthy of its luxury status and an MSRP north of $150,000. Suede material covers the dash, center armrest, upper pillars, and headliner, while Mercedes wraps the seats in perforated leather. That same soft leather was on my test car's flat-bottom steering wheel, a feature unique to the AMG trim.
Accenting the various fabrics was yacht-design walnut wood trim, which resembles the decking you might see on a seafaring vessel. Most buttons and switches were either aluminum or plastic with an aluminum appearance. Mostly, these are quality bits, apart from the swivel air vents on the outer edges of the dash. These feel cheap and unsubstantial, which seems odd given how frequently drivers and passengers may touch them.
The switchgear placement is intuitive, with haptic buttons on the center console and steering wheel for an assortment of safety and infotainment features and seat and mirror adjustments on the door panel. However, Mercedes embedded most of the controls within the infotainment system, including front-seat massage with user-selectable intensity. The 12-way power-adjustable bucket seats offer heating and ventilation that is highly effective, to the point that I was uncomfortable with their maximum settings. Mercedes pairs a heated steering wheel with climate-controlled seats, which you cannot use independently.
Thanks to that abundance of adjustability, I found a seating position that kept me comfortable for hours. Mercedes offers a feature that will adjust the seat and steering wheel to what it determines is your ideal driving position. The result was too far forward for my liking.
Mercedes treats rear passengers to a fairly flat but comfortably reclined split bench seat capable of transporting three people but best suited for two. Aside from a fold-down center armrest with two cup holders and electronic climate controls on the center console, accommodations are surprisingly sparse. That was disappointing to find in an expensive luxury model. Still, Mercedes does offer an Executive Rear Seat package that includes power-adjustable heated and massaging seats, a neck warmer, and a removable tablet with infotainment and climate controls.
Regardless of how you configure the seats, there's 22 cu.-ft. of cargo space behind the rear seats. With the hands-free hatch raised, the opening is wide, easily accessible, and expands to 63 cu-ft. with the rear seatback folded down. There's plenty of room for groceries, luggage, and golf bags, but the sloped glass prevents you from carrying large, bulky items (beanbags being one notable exception). Other storage provisions include the front console and armrest, seatback pockets, and cubbies on each door.
2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS Review: The Technology
Mercedes understandably places much focus on the EQS sedan's electric powertrain, but the abundance of technology packed within the vehicle is equally noteworthy. Let's start with what Mercedes calls the Hyperscreen. Standard on 580 4Matic and AMG trims, this single glass panel covers the width of the dash and contains three different displays: a 12.3-inch LED gauge cluster, a massive 17.7-inch OLED touchscreen for the infotainment system, and a 12.3-inch OLED touchscreen for the front passenger.
As someone who is often slow to embrace new technology, I was a bit intimidated by what I expected to be a steep learning curve. As it turns out, I'm a quicker study than I realized. Either that or Mercedes worked hard to make all these systems intuitive and easy to master. I'm going with the latter.
Using haptic buttons on the steering wheel, I scrolled through many options for the gauge cluster, briefly settling on one that showed the amount of horsepower and torque I was using (interestingly, very little when cruising on a flat highway). For the center display, I used the touchscreen. Mercedes permanently displays some climate controls for quick access, but everything else requires tapping the Home icon. That brings up a display with a limited number of intuitive icons. The Comfort icon, for example, allows you to turn on the seat massager, while the Settings icon lets you activate any of the many safety systems.
The screen positioned furthest to the right is only operable by a seated passenger who can control the radio, browse the Internet, or play a game of Tetris if they so choose.
Alternatively, the voice-recognition system allows the use of verbal commands. Activated by uttering the wake-up phrase "Hey Mercedes," the automaker claims the technology recognizes common language and no longer heavily depends on a limited number of specific words and phrases. I viewed that as a challenge and proceeded to pepper the system with a host of requests and questions. The results were overwhelmingly positive, correctly directing me to a specific coffee shop, turning on my heated seat, and providing some information about election day (the midterms were coming up). There were also a few hiccups.
While driving the backroads of southern Maine, I asked “Hey Mercedes” to direct me to nearby Mousam Lake and then the town of Acton. It didn't recognize Mousam and returned two Acton options, neither of which was in Maine. My last test was to ask “Hey Mercedes” if I had enough range to drive to Boston. In response, it simply told me the distance to Boston. Not quite what I was asking for, but with my remaining range clear as day in the gauge cluster, I came to my own conclusion quickly.
Though amusing to push the limits of the system, I found it to work well for the majority of things I attempted to control by voice.
My travel route overlayed a 3D map displayed on the 17.7-inch infotainment screen. As the navigation system provides route guidance, it also alerts the driver to an upcoming turn by showing arrows in the head-up display. This little feature is helpful for those who aren't always sure when and where to turn.
As a final note on the infotainment system, phone pairing was a simple process that linked wireless Apple CarPlay with my iPhone. The system also supports wireless Android Auto.
More importantly, the 2022 EQS sedan has numerous safety features, including pre-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and more. As of this writing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash-test ratings are not yet available for this vehicle.
In the EQS, buttons on the steering wheel activate adaptive cruise control. Users can select their speed or opt to have the system increase or decrease automatically to match the speed limit displayed on road signs. A separate button sets the distance between you and any vehicle ahead. The system worked almost flawlessly, except for seeing a 25 mph sign where there wasn't one. Unlike in some other cars I've tested, the EQS decelerated and accelerated smoothly with the flow of highway traffic.
The same can be said of Mercedes' lane-keeping and lane-centering systems. I've often found these systems aggravating, with constant minor steering adjustments that don't instill confidence. In the EQS, these inputs are nearly imperceptible, even when the roadway isn't perfectly straight. To evaluate this, I'd occasionally remove my hands from the steering wheel, though an alert soon followed, urging me to place them back on the wheel. Ignore that warning too long and the emergency flashers come on as the car rapidly decelerates.
When a driver follows a route programmed into the navigation system, these safety features will guide the car into a different lane when it's safe to do so. This triggered the system to check for traffic before gradually steering the EQS into the preferred travel lane. Again, I was impressed by the seamless and fluid execution.
2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS Review: The Drive
In Mercedes lingo, AMG is synonymous with performance. That's as true with the EQS as with any of the car's gas-powered counterparts, though the go-fast parts are very different. Under the AMG EQS sedan's hood, which Mercedes says only a trained technician should open, is a pair of massive air filters and various bits of gadgetry. There's no engine, of course, nor is there the front trunk (frunk) found in many EVs. Instead, this AMG features a 107.8-kWh battery pack paired with dual permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM) – one to power the front wheels and the other to propel those at the rear. A single-speed automatic transmission is standard. Output equals 649 hp and 700 lb.-ft. of torque, or 751 hp and 752 lb.-ft. with the available AMG Dynamic Plus package.
After only a bit of driving, I came to a clear conclusion: if EVs ever win over the exhaust-sniffing enthusiast crowd, it will be thanks to the copious amounts of instantaneous torque and exceptional acceleration provided by cars like the AMG EQS sedan. Unlike traditional sport sedans with gas engines and turbochargers, power delivery from the EQS is smooth, without any lag or dead spots in the throttle. In my case, asphalt and nerves ran out well before the car would have finished accelerating.
Sadly, the fake exhaust sounds are disappointing. I had a choice of mild or performance settings and was hopeful the latter would live up to its name. Instead, I heard only loud, somewhat raucous noise that was more 1990's Total Recall than modern Hot Rod.
The AMG EQS sedan's chassis characteristics gave me a slightly better impression. Dynamic Select allows the driver to opt for progressively aggressive steering and suspension tuning modes. In the mild comfort setting, I expected the ride to be compliant and luxury-car soft, but it was somewhat stiff and didn't isolate bumps as well as an S-Class I drove earlier in the year.
With the Sport+ mode selected, the steering took on extra heft but never made me feel connected to the road, and I didn't discern any significant change to the suspension. A spirited drive on a twisty stretch of pavement made for a fun experience as colorful fallen leaves whirled in my wake. The rear-wheel steering, which turns up to 10 degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels, likely contributed to the car feeling sure-footed in tight corners. And yet, despite the plethora of modern hardware, nothing about the drive spoke to my inner enthusiast. Perhaps I was missing the sensation of a high-revving AMG-tuned engine and barking tailpipes.
Of course, the EQS sedan employs an electric powertrain, so let's look at how that performed from an efficiency perspective. The EPA has yet to publish estimates for the AMG version of the EQS, but Mercedes claims the car has a maximum range of 277 miles. I'm confident that figure is low since my test car arrived with its battery charged to 79% and displaying an estimated range of 244 miles. Either way, I was assured I had enough juice to get me wherever I wanted to go, so range anxiety wasn't an issue.
I headed out on an excursion that included a mix of highway and local roads. According to the odometer, I traveled 81 miles, yet the vehicle's range only dropped by 77 miles. In gas-engine terms, fuel economy was better than expected. However, I subsequently drove the EQS on several shorter trips for 142 miles, which corresponded precisely with a 142 mile drop in range.
Overall, the estimated range proved to be accurate. However, keep in mind several factors are involved, including the use of climate controls and heated seats. As noted, the AMG EQS arrived with a 79% charge and 244 miles of range, yet when I later recharged the battery to 80%, the car indicated an estimated range of 274 miles. I attribute the difference to how I drove the car. When delivered to my home, the EQS had just spent roughly two hours cruising on the highway, where EVs use more battery power. My evaluation included a mix of roads, allowing the EQS more opportunity to recharge its battery via regenerative braking.
Speaking of charging, I don't have a unit installed in my home, so I relied on the Electrify America chargers just a few miles away. Rated at 150 kW, Mercedes claims they will replenish the EQS sedan's battery from 10 to 80% in 31 minutes. When I plugged in, the actual recharge rate was 101 kW, and the battery went from a 30 to 80% charge in 33 minutes. My 142 mile test drive consumed 56.5 kWh of energy, equivalent to about 39 kWh/100 miles.
Is the 2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS a Good Car?
Styling is subjective, but there's no denying the appeal of the interior's luxurious materials, provisions for personalized comfort, and highly technical yet user-friendly infotainment system. Mercedes has also done a remarkable job of seamlessly integrating an array of safety features. And with up to 277 miles of travel distance supplied by the battery, it virtually eliminates range anxiety. That's one less hurdle for shoppers apprehensive about transitioning to an EV and makes the 2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS sedan worth considering.