Business Opinion

Review: Mercedes GLS 63 AMG Packed With Usable, Luxury Technology

Mercedes GLS 63 AMG. Photo credit: Keith Griffin

The GLS 63 AMG is also a powerful performance SUV that drives like a sedan.

Mercedes GLS 63 AMG. Photo credit: Keith Griffin

By Keith Griffin

Back in the days when I used to write about cars for U.S. News & World Report, there was a rule you couldn’t drive a vehicle that cost over $100,000. I’m glad I’m no longer hindered by that rule because it would have denied me the opportunity to review the Mercedes GLS 63 AMG with its price tag of $155,000.

That’s what I paid for my house over 20 years ago. I’ve always joked with my kids that we could always sell the house and live in the various expensive vehicles that have populated my driveway. The GLS 63 AMG fits the bill. With one daughter away at college now, we could each take up one of three available rows.

Mercedes GLS 63 AMG. Courtesy photo

Of course, I prefer my humble home (better shower facilities), but the GLS 63 AMG offers so much. Topping the list is the handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 Biturbo engine with an output of 603 horsepower that truly delivers powerful propulsion from its twin-scroll turbochargers. Sure, the engine has a cylinder shutoff system that noticeably improves efficiency when less power is required. The problem is you never want less power. This SUV is rated at a combined 16 mpg. My numbers after a week were closer to 13 and it was worth every penny of the extra fuel cost.

There’s another feature I grew to love on cold West Hartford mornings: heated armrests. You never realize how many cold surfaces there are in a vehicle until a wise manufacturer thinks to heat them. Friends of my daughter thought them the most magical thing ever.

Mercedes GLS 63 AMG. Photo credit: Keith Griffin

The standard equipment is even more extensive than in the already lavishly equipped predecessor. It includes, among other things, the panoramic sliding sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive high beam assist and wireless smartphone integration. Also included are the selectable AMG Performance exhaust system, a Burmester surround sound system, 360-degree surround view system, and blind spot assist.

The latest generation of the AMG Performance steering wheel is also fitted standard. The AMG Drive Unit buttons feature brilliant displays and intuitive operating logic. All the driving functions and driving modes can be controlled without the driver’s hands leaving the steering wheel. The steering wheel is heated as standard and is also available with a carbon fiber design.

Mercedes GLS 63 AMG. Photo credit: Keith Griffin

Customers can also look forward to special equipment features such as the MBUX augmented video function, multibeam LED headlamps, and driver assistance package plus. The list continues with the air balance package, multi-contour front seats, and head-up display. The MBUX interior assistant, along with heated and cooled front cup holders, is also provided as standard.

When it comes to style, the GLS 63 AMG is amazingly bland from the side but approach it front or rear and the difference is startling. The four louvers of the radiator grille feature a silver shadow finish. The front bumper also has integrated air inlet grilles, combined with a surround in high-gloss black, and a redesigned front underride guard. At the rear, the GLS has new LED taillights showcasing a light signet formed by three horizontal blocks.

An impressive feature of this Mercedes is its ability to pull its weight. It’s a luxury workhorse. All-wheel drive and a gear ratio designed for pulling power allow a towing capacity of up to 7,716 lbs and a tongue weight of up to 309 lbs. Helpful additional features for use when towing include trailer maneuvering assist and the updated trailer menu in the central display.


MAKE: Mercedes Benz


ENGINE: Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8

HORSEPOWER; 603 horsepower

TORQUE: 627 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm

FUEL ECONOMY: 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway

PRICE: $147,000 (base)


Longtime West Hartford resident Keith Griffin is a veteran auto journalist whose work has been published in U.S. News & World Report, The Boston Globe and online for various New York Times companies. He is a past president of the New England Motor Press Association.

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