Driver Not Included: The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC

Full disclosure: I am not the world's happiest passenger. I don't believe I cause a driver or other passengers any discomfort. I'd bet they're not even aware that---most of the time---I'd rather be the guy that's at the wheel. I just love to drive. The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC could change that.

Don't get me wrong. There is an enormous amount of pleasure to be had in driving the Maybach version of the Mercedes GLS-class SUV that we drove in AMG GLS 63 form last summer. But the real party is in the back.

Under the hood, the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC ups the horsepower from the Mercedes GLS 450's 362 and the GLS 580's 483 with a four-liter biturbo V8 rated at 550 horsepower---and an electric boost of 21 horses---for a total of 571. That's just 53 shy of the fire-breathing AMG GLS 63. And the power goes to all four wheels from a nine-speed automatic transmission. The EPA fuel economy average is 15 miles per gallon city, 19 highway. The Maybach is still capable of 60 miles an hour from a standing start in 4.8 seconds. And the Maybach has a different mission. The Maybach is all about smooth. It has AIRMATIC air suspension and E-ACTIVE body control. You could drink from a glass in the GLS 600 4MATIC. In fact, they're counting on it.

That black box with the fan dividing almost the rear half of the cargo area? That's the working end of the refrigerator. More about that in a moment.

The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 eliminates the third row of seating found in other GLS-class Mercedes. That allows for the second-row seats to be set further back in the vehicle, allowing for limo-like legroom and private jet-like adjustability.

Rear seat passengers get control over their climate settings, music and other amenities through a dedicated touchpad on the rear center console. There's also a wireless-charging phone cradle and USB jacks.

The refrigerator? Optional at extra cost. Just the right size for some artisan snacks and a bottle of your favorite vintage. And the part you fold down to access the fridge holds two champagne flutes (also optional at extra cost), which weren't in the vehicle when we got it. The flutes have magnetized bottoms, as do the rear seat cupholders, so in the unlikely event of a harsh motion, they'll stay put.

The base price of the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC is $160,500. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are navigation, a surround-view system, active multicontour seats with massage, a cabin fragrance system, four-zone climate control, a power tilting and sliding panoramic roof and a Burmester high-end 3D Surround Sound system.

The Energizing Comfort feature is remarkable. A series of programs that adjust the lighting, seat massaging, heating, cooling and in some cases, music to create and maintain a mood and ambience for driver and passengers alike. It's part of the epic center screen in the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC, which also has more practical information to share.

Our test vehicle also had extra-cost options. The designo black flamed natural grain ash wood trim is $850, the champagne flute holders are $800. The two-tone paint job is $18,500. The 23-inch multi-spoke forged wheels are $5,500. The refrigerator is $1,100 and the folding tables (really nifty silver trays that swing out from inside the rear console and which yours truly totally forgot to take a picture of) is $1,800.

With $1,050 destination and delivery charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC is $190,100.

Not having a driver, I spent the week I had the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC in the front seat, and I loved every minute of it. It's a terrific vehicle to drive. But in the back of my mind was always the thought that maybe, just maybe, hopping in the back, reclining the seat, getting a heated massage from it and popping open a bottle of Napa Valley's finest while leaving the driving to someone else might not be a bad way to live.

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