Updated: Jul 21, 2020
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 makes a lot of first impressions---its size, its beauty, and its voice. Go ahead. Press the "start" button.
That low, throaty rumble is coming out of the chrome-tipped quad exhausts at the rear. But exhaust pipes alone do not such a sound make.
No, what's really making that sound is a handcrafted 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8, which makes 603 horsepower and 627 pounds per foot of torque. And then a 48-volt electric motor tosses another 21 horsepower into the mix for a total of 624. There's an AMG Speedshift TCT nine-speed automatic transmission and AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
A standing start to 60 miles per hour takes 3.6 seconds. Three point-six. As in "onethousandoneonethousandtwoonethousandthreeonethou". Yes, the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk I reviewed for the old TireKicker site last September does 0-60 in 3.5. But it takes 707 horsepower from the 6.2 liter supercharged V8 found in the Challenger and Charger Hellcat to do that. And the penalty is 11 miles per gallon city, 17 highway, according to the EPA.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63's EPA fuel economy averages haven't been published yet, but in 200 miles of city streets, urban freeways and mountain roads to, around and from Lake Tahoe, it averaged 21.4 miles per gallon.
In terms of performance-oriented tech, there's also an electronic locking differential, active dynamic engine mounts and AMG Ride Control+ suspension. Even without taking it into Sport mode, the GLS 63 handled winding mountain roads at speed with total composure. And the driver and passengers ride in supreme comfort.
Yes, all this costs money. The starting price for the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 is $132,100. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see the full list, but among the highlights on the standard equipment list is a panoramic sunroof, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 12.3-inch media display and navigation system with touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM Satellite Radio (a six-month All-Access trial), multicontour heated and ventilated front seats with massage function and wireless phone charging.
Our test vehicle also had about $16,000 in extra-cost options, including $1,500 for a carbon fiber engine cover, $500 for an AMG performance steering wheel in Nappa Leather and Dinamica, $4,450 for 23-inch AMG multi-spoke forged wheels, $350 for augmented video, $380 for manual second-row sunshades, $4,550 for an amazing Burmester high-end surround sound system, $580 for heated rear seats, $350 for Magic Vision Control, $360 for heated third-row seats, $1,100 for the Warmth and Comfort Package (rapid heating, heated door center panels, heated front and rear armrests and a heated center console), $550 for the Energizing Package Plus, and $1,100 for the Acoustic Comfort Package (increased cabin insulation, windshield with infrared-reflecting film, side windows with acoustic and infra-red absorbing film).
Add $995 destination and delivery and the as-tested price of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 is an eye-watering $149,115. Hey, that's sobering for anyone. If you had $1.5 million, this'd be a tenth of your money.
So---is it worth it? If you have that kind of money for an automobile, then yes. A non-AMG Mercedes GLS isn't meant to be the SUV for everybody and the GLS 63 is special beyond that. In terms of comfort, speed and exclusivity, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 is the performance car for a family with means.