2021 Mercedes AMG GLS63 First Test: Big, Bold and Fast

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Rationale for this thinking: Who needs another Mercedes three-row luxury SUV when we already have the GLS450 and GLS580?

It could be discerning moms and dads who want sports cars to work in a full-size SUV from Clifford the Big Red Dog. Or the younger generation investor trying to impress his entourage by showing them what a nearly 3-ton sports utility can do on the back roads.

In any case, we put a 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 through our battery test, drove it on the fierce streets of Los Angeles and had fun with it on the scenic roads of Santa Clarita and Pasadena for full review.

We wanted to know if the luxury SUV was worth the $153,125 price tag and matched the AMG nameplate. Right? Read to find out.

Mercedes AMG GLS63 Presence, power and class
Beneath the hood is the crown jewel, a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 with mild-hybrid technology making 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent to all four wheels through an AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic transmission. The shocking combination with its stupidly fast acceleration, enhances the GLS63’s docile appearance.

Those unfamiliar with the AMG line will also be impressed by this woolly mammoth’s agility and precise handling of a 5,900-pound SUV.

Mercedes says the AMG GLS63 does a good 0–60 mph time of 4.1 seconds. However, in our track test, we finished it in 3.7 seconds.

Faster than the Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye and in the ballpark of the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 PDK we recently tested. The GLS63 big boss also did the quarter-mile in 12.1 seconds at 115.7 mph.

Mercedes-Benz element
Over the years, Mercedes-Benz has developed a successful formula to create one of the most stylish, luxurious and innovative interiors. The result is an elegant design, cutting-edge technology, premium materials and the highest levels of comfort, all wrapped up in a package that performs well. The modern Mercedes-Benz cabin has become a defining aspect of the brand.

Features of the GLS63 that we like include a Burmester sound system, ambient lighting, and a seat massager. The giant leather seats with diamond stitching are reminiscent of the recliners you’d normally find at a high-end movie theater.
They’re luxurious, offer plenty of support, and are fully power-adjustable. Someone about the same size as this 5-foot-1 author sinks right into them and feels safe and cozy.

Technology and Safety Mercedes GLS63
Mercedes offers a multitude of active safety systems as standard, including brake assist, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, parking assist with 360-degree surround-view camera and LED headlights with beam adaptive light.

Additional interior options on our test car include the following packages:

The MBUX Technology Pack includes enhanced video for navigation and overhead display; Acoustic Comfort increases insulation for a quieter driving experience;
Energizing Plus complements the air-balancing package with a unique fragrance;
Warmth and Comfort complements heating throughout the interior, including on the door panels and center console.
A notable feature in the GLS63 is the Mercedes-Benz Polarized User Experience (MBUX) system. People think it’s intuitive or feel it’s a pain in the butt.

MBUX combines a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen to form a skateboard-sized display. Some of my colleagues hate it, but some, like me, beg to be different.

Having said that, I am very sensitive to the idea that technological features in your face can be distracting while driving.

Chief among the complaints are buried menus that seem to be more of an inconvenience than ingenuity. For example, you can access the lumbar adjustment knobs and seat side support through the seat’s comfort menu.

Another complaint is the infotainment touchpad controller, which requires too much of the driver’s attention. One way to get around this is to use the touch screen directly. We also found the shortcuts on the center panel to be very useful for quick access.

The passenger legroom available in the second row will accommodate anyone tall, short or in the middle, but this does not apply to the third row.

Better fold the third row of seats down for more cargo space, or use it to bring a rebellious teen to the waiting room. In short, the kids should go back there; adults will be cramped.

Performance and Handling
A word of warning about the AMG GLS63: Pay attention to your speed. It’s amazing how little effort it takes to hit 100 mph and you won’t notice until you look at the speedometer.

Considering its size and weight, the GLS63 has to be the most enjoyable three-row SUV to drive fast. With the suspension set to Sport Plus, we ramped up the throttle through turns on narrow roads, and the GLS63 didn’t flinch.

The huge SUV darted forward like a hungry leopard and darted straight into every turn. The stiffened suspension and active anti-roll bar supported by the EQ Boost system provide strong stability even through corners where the front passenger can reach for the center console handlebars. Gearshifts are clear, and ride quality is largely smooth despite the 23-inch monocoque wheels.

The brakes are so responsive that you only need to press the brake pedal to bring the GLS63 to a stop. At the track where we ran the test, it took 110 feet to brake from 60 to 0 mph. “Strong brake feel; 110 feet is impressive for this large brick,” said road test editor Erick Ayapana.

Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, 285/40 / ZR23 at the front and 325/35 / ZR23 at the rear, give a rather clumsy grip. On the skidpad, the GLS63 got past lap eight in 24.9 seconds at an average of 0.78 g.

On a class of its own, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 starts at $133,150, and provided a large, super-fast SUV is on your wish list, worth every dollar.

Take the kids to school, do some grocery shopping, clean up the dry cleaners, and then treat yourself to a secret getaway. The AMG GLS63 has your back. It matches its AMG line-up and offers a unique driving experience, even if it’s a car that no one asked for.

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