A BIG BENZ THAT'S BORNE TO RUN
I’ve just spent a week in a new Jeep Wrangler, perhaps the first vehicle to claim the moniker Sports Utility Vehicle. That description, shortened to SUV, appears to label nearly every vehicle produced today except for the few sport cars and sedans still offered for sale. And with this proliferation of offerings, there’s an SUV for nearly every need and budget, even the big, posh and powerful variety for dispatching one’s family with proper alacrity. Fast forward and that SUV largess of size along with AMG performance sits near the top of Mercedes-Benz offerings, with only the Maybach trim level surpassing its MSRP.
The 17-foot-long, 5,800-pound, seven passenger Mercedes GLS63 AMG isn’t necessarily ready for off-road duty, especially with its 23-inch wheels shod with low profile, high speed rated tires. Besides, the 0-to-60 acceleration of 4.1-seconds and 174 MPH top speed are not very useful on a trail in the wilderness. However, the big, hand-crafted 603 HP V8 with 627-pound feet of torque easily enables 7,700-pound towing capacity, enough to pull a 30-foot Airstream in remarkable style. But I’d urge that trailering adventure to keep under triple digit speeds for the safety of the entire highway population around all that mass.
While I didn’t hook up a big load since the press vehicle was absent a tow package, I did my share of luxury performance motoring while nicely ensconced in the Bahia Brown/Black Napa leather seat. That lofty perch, along with the cupholders, are heated or cooled depending on the climate or your mood swings. And the view includes two displays, the driver’s with programmable functions from Classic to Discreet and Sporty along with a center display with touch controls available. I simply uttered “Hey Mercedes” and asked the friendly, feminine MBUX computer to do my bidding. After all, there’s a reason you’ve laid out $153-grand for this grand conveyance.
Along with carbon fiber trim finishes, two grab handles are prominently available on either side of the center console. I understand the usefulness of passenger handles during spirited motoring, but perhaps the driver should keep both hands gripping the AMG Performance steering wheel with its red drive mode buttons begging for attention. Punch up the Sport + setting and the AMG Active Ride Control does its best to allow tossing this big rig around while the exhaust pipes snarl and bark. It’s amusement for the whole family
Along with the serious journalism endeavors during my professional evaluation of performance attributes in the AMG GLS63, I simply surrendered to the luxury. If I decide to drive across our country again, this is a candidate, although the combined 16 MPG (18 highway) might dampen that enthusiasm. But if you like living large, this might fit the bill. Other candidates include BMW’s XM, Land Rover’s Range Rover Autobiography and Cadillac’s Escalade V.
THE FINE PRINT
2024 AMG GLS63 SUV
TYPE: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8
HORSEPOWER: 603 @ 5,750 RPM
TORQUE: 627 lb.ft. @ 2,500 RPM
BASE PRICE: $145,850
AS TESTED: $153,000
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 14 city, 18 highway, 16 combined