Mercedes Benz AMG GLS 63: Low-Key Good Looks Disguise the Beast Under the Hood of this Luxe 3-Row SUV

Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

Yes, it’s all that.

Here’s the thing about luxury 3-row SUVs: You don’t really want them to give away your tax bracket. You want them to be luxurious and comfortable, and powerful enough to get away, even if the getaway is more like towing a boat to your cabin in the woods than fleeing a ‘Fast and Furious’ villain. 

And, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 keeps your secret (mostly). All new for 2021 with a fresh design inside and out, the Mercedes-Benz badge gives away the this is a luxe SUV and for those in the know, the AMG 63 badge indicates a badass engine under the hood. But does it give away that this is a $150,000 SUV? Not to the uninitiated. 

Related: Peek into the Future of Mercedes-Benz: The New Mercedes-Benz S Class Super Luxe Sedan Leads The Way

 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

The AMG steering wheel in the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63, outfitted with carbon fiber, micro suede and drive mode control selectors. ?Scotty Reiss

The First Surprise: Even in a 3-Row SUV, the Drive Experience is a Luxury, Too

Even once I learned the price of this car I was surprised at just how luxe this SUV is—and in looking at the Mercedes-Benz site, I discovered that our test model wasn’t topped out with all the goodies! I could have added another few thousand dollars worth of upgrades and pushed the price even higher. 

The luxuries in this SUV go beyond plush seats, a quiet ride and the awesome MBUX infotainment system. I found the hand-built V8, 603 horsepower engine with 627 torque, an engine that is anxious to perform, turned a typical and predictable SUV experience into a thrilling one. 

The AMG 63 drive experience matches your lululemon and barre-toned goals; it’s lean and elegant when meandering around the grocery store parking lot or jockeying for a parking spot at Starbucks. 

But floor it to merge into traffic and, wow. The AMG engine bears down with incredible strength and catapults you confidently past trucks and sports cars (and that was in comfort mode!). You’ll get some quisitive looks from other drivers, like you’re trying to show off. But no, that’s just how this car rolls. And you might just get addicted to that feeling.

Related: 6 Reasons Why a Luxury Car is Worth the Splurge

 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

The panoramic sunroof is standard in the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63. ?Scotty Reiss

Modern Luxury Defined by Sporty Details 

These days modern luxury is defined by performance: strength, endurance, athleticism achieved through  innovative materials and designs. It’s why brands like lululemon and Peleton can dominate the marketplace and still command top dollar. Our Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 test model was outfitted in exactly this way, from the sportiness of the AMG 63 engine to the black and white details and the oversized matte black wheels (a $4,950 option!), all coming together for a subtle yet refined experience. It may have been my favorite test model spec of the year, but I love black and white, especially in cars. Hats off to the person who spec’ed out this model. Nicely done. 

Inside, the sporty elegance continues with suede-like microfiber inserts on the seats and steering wheel — which I would choose, hands down, in any car that has this option — and carbon fiber dash and door trim (I’m nonplused by carbon fiber; it speaks ‘money’ but I’m not sure it provides any performance advantages). From there, leather seats (of course) that are vented for heating and cooling, a panoramic sun roof with a fabric cover that keeps the cabin from heating up and dark color carpets outlined in sharp white piping so you can see where to put your feet, backpacks or other things that go on the floor.

Related: 9 of the Best 3 Row SUVs–From Luxury to Affordable

 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

USB C fast chargers mean you can charge a tablet or laptop. ?Scotty Reiss

The new MBUX infotainment system is an elegant single panel of touch sensitive glass that spans the dashboard from the driver’s view to the center of the car. It’s visible by everyone in the car and easy to see and use. And, you can simply say “Hey, Mercedes” and the voice assistant kicks in, able to set navigation directions, turn on the air conditioning, activating the massage seats, change the radio station or tell you what time it is in Rome. It even tells jokes.  

Buyers can select from a number of different materials and finishes on the interior. Our test model was distinctly designed to reflect the sportiness of the AMG 63 engine with black seats and carbon fiber. I’d go with white leather and chrome or wood accents, but that’s me.

Related: Mercedes-Benz GLS 450: The Definition of Family Luxury

 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63. ?Scotty Reiss

How Big is this 3-Row SUV? More Than You Probably Need. But Dang, it Feels Good

That feeling of sitting above traffic. Of being able to see the horizon, to see past tractor trailers and other SUVs. Commanding a beast of a car and captaining the family ship is a great feeling. And that’s how this SUV feels. It’s big, and that took getting used  to, but once I did it was fine. I never had trouble parking it or driving it, and with the AMG power it never felt hesitant merging into traffic. 

Related: Mercedes-Benz GLC AMG: Is it for You?

 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

Parking sensors light up in the head up display to let you know you’re about to hit the wall. ?Scotty Reiss

One of the reasons the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 is so large is so it can accommodate 6 or 7 passengers. Again, if I were building this SUV I would opt for second row captains chairs to make the 3rd row more accessible. However, the SUV is equipped with one-touch electric sliding seats and plenty of buttons to operate them; so just pull the tab on the center row seat shoulder and the seats slide forward to allow third row access.

One of the things I loved about this is — and if you’ve ever had antsy kids anxious to climb into the third row, you’ll understand— when you pull the tab or push the button to move the second row seats, the system moves ALL the seats that need to move in order to accommodate access. So the front seats move too. There is no putting everything down so you can run to the front and move the drivers seat forward and then restarting the moving-the-center-seats process over again. 

 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

The front cabin in the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63. Notice the grab bars that frame the center console that holds the MBUX touch pad controller, cup holders, drive mode selectors and a wireless charge pad. ?Scotty Reiss

The Full Size, Full Luxury SUV is a Thing, and There’s a Good Reason

The Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 is a full sized, 3-row, full performance, full-on luxury SUV. With a starting price of $132,000, and fully loaded at more than $160K, It competes with a small, elite class of SUVs that include the BMW X7 Alpina and the Range Rover Sport supercharged V8. So who is this SUV for? Buyers who may often have a driver and a number of passengers — family, colleagues or VIPs — in the car. I think of royals, Kardashians or Fortune 500 CEOs, especially those who live or work in places where you want to add bullet proof glass and drive to remote places like oil fields or diamond mines. 

It’s also great for drivers who really just want it all: The 605 horsepower engine with uncompromised performance, seating for everyone and basic luxuries like the panoramic sunroof and heated and cooled leather seats. And a sharp but sublime SUV that doesn’t advertise your tax bracket. 

 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

Heated and cooled front cup holders in the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63. ?Scotty Reiss

What We Loved

  • That engine. 605 HP ? And sport mode and sport+ mode (not that you need it)
  • The AMG ‘drive unit’ which includes a drive mode selector and drive settings on the steering wheel; you can shift into sport mode without taking your hands off the wheel
  • Hands free motion activated lift gate 
  • Suede seating and steering wheel details 
  • Seating for 6 or 7, take your pick (and no additional charge for captains chairs)
  • One touch sliding center seats for third row access
  • MBUX infotainment system. This may be the best of all the systems out there
  • The large matte wheels. It took a while, but I grew to love them
  • A fragrance diffuser! There is no better way to counteract sweaty soccer players or set the tone after a stressful day
  • Massaging front seats. These are awesome—and standard on this model!
  • Heated center row outboard seats 
  • Heated and cooled front cup holders
  • A clever wireless charge pad that charged my phone even though its case
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto 
  • All wheel drive, which is standard
  • Head up display
  • Navigation with augmented reality: this overlays arrows on a video image making turn by turn directions a bit easier to follow
  • USB-C fast charging ports and a household outlet ?
 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

Groceries stacked neatly in the huge cargo space. ?Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know

  • Premium fuel recommended
  • Fuel economy is estimated at 14 MPG city/22MPG highway; we averaged about 16 MPG during our test drive
  • 4 year/50,000 mile warranty
  • Seating for 6 (with center row captains chairs) or 7 (with a center row bench) and no uncharge for either
  • USB ports are C-type fast charging ports; you may need an adapter for standard USB cords
  • Even with the electric slide seats, getting into the 3rd row is easier for smaller or more agile people
  • A full size SUV, it may require a learning curve to drive and park 
  • Most of the options you’d want on this SUV are standard 
 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

Cargo space with the third row folded flat. ?Scotty Reiss

What This Car Costs

  • GLS base price with a V6, 362 horsepower engine, seating for 6 or 7 and the MBUX infotainment system, $75,950;
  • AMG GLS 63 with a V8 605 horsepower engine, seating for 6 or 7, panoramic sun roof, AMG performance features including the steering wheel controls and brake calipers, heated and cooled massaging front seats, wireless charging, ambient lighting, active park assist, blind spot monitors, lane keep assist, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Burmester sound sound audio system and puddle lights, $132,100
  • Add augmented navigation and head up display, $1,450
  • Add carbon fiber interior trim, $1,590
  • Add the suede steering wheel, $900
  • Add 23” forged wheels matte black, $4,950
  • Heated rear seats, $580
  • Additional acoustic insulation, $1,100
  • Fragrance diffuser and air filter package, $550
  • Rapid heating package with heated door panels, head rests andarm rests, $1,100
  • Price of the model we tested with delivery, $149,160
 Mercedes-Benz Amg Gls 63

Eli loved having the back seat to himself. ?Scotty Reiss

What We Listened to in the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63

The premium Burmester sound system begs you to turn it up. So we did.

Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz provided the AMG GLS 63 for this test drive. All opinions are my own. 

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss