Review: 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
– Gateway, Colorado
I shouldn’t need to explain why, for those of us who live in The Real World, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is something of an extravagant absurdity. Does your seven-passenger luxury SUV need 577 horsepower and the ability to hit 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds? Of course not. I know, I know – you really need to get to Starbucks before all of your Range Rover-driving neighbors, lest they run out of your favorite pumpkin spice whatever. But I promise, at the end of the day, you’ll be just as happy with any other version of the incredibly well-rounded GLS family – they all carry the same amount of people and things, they all coddle you with the same amount of luxury, and they all look just as good in the pick-up line at your kids’ private school.
- That engine. I love everything about the hand-built, biturbo, 5.5-liter AMG V8. There’s oodles of power everywhere in the range, it’s constantly shouting at you, and it burbles and snorts and pops and crackles as you quickly fire off shifts from the AMG Speedshift 7G-Tronic automatic. Yes, the lower-priced GLS550 has more than enough power with 449 hp on tap, but I’m certainly not going to kick an extra 128 ponies out of the stable – especially when they’re this eager to scoot.
- The GLS63 actually knows how to use that power, too. The adaptive air suspension keeps body roll to a minimum, and the AMG model includes both Sport and Sport+ modes in the Dynamic Select system (non-AMG GLS models have an Off-Road mode in place of Sport+). The difference between the two settings is honestly pretty negligible, and even in Comfort, it’s easy to really tear the GLS63 open and have it rip down the road. Steering feel could be a little better on-center, but overall, this GLS feels planted and more confident during high-speed cornering than you’d expect, considering its size.
- At the same time, the core mission of the GLS range is to be comfortable and luxurious, and that’s not lost in the AMG package. Leave the GLS63 in Comfort mode and it’ll happily cruise down the highway without any jarring suspension movements or harshness. The V8 will even quiet down a bit, too.
- I think the redesigned GLS is a handsome thing, and while the AMG treatment to the lower front fascia is a bit fussy, overall, I think this is a really good-looking SUV. It’s not overwrought or angular for the sake of visually proving its sportiness. Instead, the GLS63 largely flies under the radar, even while wearing 21- or 22-inch wheels.
- An overarching AMG GLS63 cool factor is that, really, it’s in a class of one. There aren’t any other high-performance, three-row SUVs on the market yet. Similarly powerful and comparably priced alternatives are listed below, but in terms of balls-out performance with seating for seven, it’s the GLS63 or nothing. This car exists because it can, not because it has to.
- My main issue with this SUV isn’t related to the AMG part of the equation, but to the GLS itself. For starters, Mercedes uses phrases like “GL meets S” and “the S-Class among SUVs” to describe its range-topping seven-seater. That’s all well and good from a marketing perspective, but I’d like to see more S-Class influence here from a luxury standpoint. A lot of the interior switchgear feels like last-generation Mercedes stuff, and nothing about the cabin feels like it’s a true step up from the smaller GLE-Class. That’s not to say the interior is bad – it’s comfortable, well-equipped, roomy, and nicely executed – it just doesn’t feel as premium or special as an S-Class. Honestly, it doesn’t even feel as premium or special as the new C-Class.
- I can't in good conscience ding a 577-hp, 5,754-pound SUV for its poor fuel economy ratings, but I will say 14 miles per gallon combined is pretty hilarious.
- I find it a little silly that the AMG GLS63 is almost twice the price of the lovely, diesel-powered GLS350d. Heck, even the extra $30,000 premium over a 449-hp GLS550 is a bit much. But again, the GLS63 doesn’t exist in the realm of real-world expenses or practicality. If you have the means, then by all means.
- BMW X5 M
- Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged
- Porsche Cayenne Turbo
|2017 MERCEDES-AMG GLS63|
|ENGINE||Biturbocharged 5.5L V8|
|OUTPUT||577 Horsepower / 561 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||4.5 Seconds|
|TOP SPEED||174 MPH (limited)|
|EPA FUEL ECONOMY||13 City / 17 Highway / 14 Combined|
|CARGO VOLUME||93.8 Cubic Feet|
|AS-TESTED PRICE||$130,000 (est.)|
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