Saturday, June 20, 2020


After updating the GLS with new GLS 450 and GLS 580 models for 2020, Mercedes-Benz is now out with the AMG version of its largest SUV with the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63.

The Germans say it “is more dynamic and versatile than ever before” with “plenty of space for seven people” and “improved driving dynamics” powered by a 4.8-liter biturbo V8 engine that boosts horsepower to 603 and torque to 627 pound-feet over the 577/561 numbers of its predecessor.

And that engine gets a 48 horsepower, 184 torque jump from the EQ Boost mild-hybrid system that also controls idle speed for increased fuel efficiency. (The EPA has not released numbers for the 2021 model but it does publish numbers of 16 miles-per-gallon city, 21 highway and 18 overall for the 2020 GLS 580, which has a 4.0-liter V8 with slightly lower horsepower and torque numbers than the AMG GLS 63.

Mercedes clockers caught the AMG GLS 63 at 4.1 seconds from zero-to-60 mph and an electronically limited stop speed of 174 mph. That should satisfy the power-hungry.

That engine is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission and is configured with the company’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system.

You also can vary the driving dynamics by selecting one of six driving modes — Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Sand, Trail, and Individual, or you also may select gears manually via the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

But lest we not forget that the AMG GLS 63 also lives to its SUV mission as a family hauler.

It seats seven passengers. Though you probably wouldn’t want to take a long trip sitting in the third row, getting back there takes little work. There is plenty of legroom in the first two rows with 40.3 inches up front and a generous 41.9 in the second row.

Cargo room is only slightly compromised when all seats are in place with 17.4 cubic feet behind the third row and 42.7 cubic feet when those seats are lowered by pushing buttons at the rear

Highlighting the front are a pair of 12.3-inch display screens incorporated into one flowing piece by a single glass cover. Content in the instrument panel may be set in one of four display styles— Modern Classic, Sport, Discreet and AMG-specific Supersport.

Infotainment features of the company’s MBUX system can be run via voice command (“Hey, Mercedes”), buttons on the steering wheel, or an annoying touchpad system that is supposed to mock the gestures used for a typical laptop but mostly just get in the way. They require an inordinate time away from keeping your attention on the road. Imagine “pinching” two fingers together on the pad to adjust the navigation scale, for example.

Standard features in the super-luxurious interior include a panoramic roof, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Burmeister surround sound, multi-contour heated and ventilated front seats, Mercedes’ “me connect” services, wireless charging, 64-color ambient lighting, and safety systems like Attention Assist, Brake Assist, blind-spot assist, and parking assist.

That is included in the base MSRP of $133,095 (including destination and delivery).

My test model featured a couple of items you can probably live without depending on your family (like a $3,700 Rear Seat Executive Package that added rear-seat wireless charging and heated and cooled rear-seat cupholders among other things) so the bottom-line totaled $153,035.

Just another example of how the GLS lives up to the company’s billing as the “S-Class of SUVs.”

What I liked about the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63: The bold, aggressive styling exudes a “no compromise” ambiance. It is every bit as powerful as the image it projects. Highway cruising is unbelievably smooth and quiet, and you won’t have an issues with taking advantage of the smallest break in traffic to scoot across an intersection. The roomy interior is stuff with high-grade materials as might be expected with a vehicle from the Mercedes shop. The back cargo area behind behind the third row is OK, but far back seats fold with the touch of a button to provide access to a wide, yawning stowage area.

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63: It’s a bear to maneuver in crowded mall parking lots, but my real issue with the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 (as it was with the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S I reviewed on May 19) is the MBUX infotainment system, especially the touchpad pad for selecting the desired feature. The small flat pad is simply in a bad spot and you can easily find yourself listening to a different audio station if your fingers brush it when you reach for something in the cupholders. Moving it to another location on the center console farther from the cupholders might help, but would not eliminate accidental touches entirely. They just would not occur as often.

Would I buy the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63? Probably not. The touchpad system is a deal breaker with me. You have other options for changing a function, but the real killer to me is the effect of accidental brushings to change modes on the screen.

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