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Hauls Way More Than Cargo: Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Test Drive

In the not-so-distant past, only high-performance sports cars were able to achieve a zero-to-60 mph time in the four-second range. Today, this acceleration accomplishment is still a notable, yet not as restrictive, feat, and the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is a prime example. Despite weighing almost three tons, the GLS63 can sprint from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds, and it can comfortably seat seven passengers at the same time. So what’s it like driving a full-size SUV that thinks it’s a sports car? We spent a week in this 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 to find out!

Mercedes-AMG GLS63

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Exterior

Like other AMG-tuned Mercedes cars and SUVs, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is easy to spot thanks to a distinctive and more aggressive styling. Up front, this includes an AMG two-bar grills as well as a sportier fascia with larger air intakes, while the rear gets a unique rear fascia that is more squared off than other GLS models and integrates quad-tipped exhaust outlets. While 21-inch wheels are standard on the GLS63, this tester upgraded to a set of 22-inch, two-tone wheels (at a cost of $1,250), which are a perfect fit in the widened fenders of the GLS550 and GLS63. Surprisingly, the overall design language looks just as sporty and cohesive on Mercedes-Benz’s biggest SUV as it does on the smaller AMG models. Brilliant Blue behemoth look even better!

Mercedes-AMG GLS63

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Interior

For the 2017 model year, Mercedes-Benz changed the name of its GL-Class to the current GLS-Class to reflect this model’s intentions of being the “S-Class among SUVs.” As such, the GLS gets an amazingly luxurious cabin with three rows of seating for seven passengers. And the best part is that the third row has more than enough legroom and headroom for adults to ride comfortably on long trips. The best seats in the house, though, are up front where the heated and cooled seats provide optimal comfort.

Stepping up to the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 brings added style with this example having a rich mix of leather throughout the cabin including quilted espresso brown leather on the seats and door panels and stitched black leather on the door panels and instrument panel; the cabin also has a mix of piano black and metallic accents as well as carbon fiber background on the gauge cluster. This tester also added options such as the soft-close doors, $500 AMG flat-bottom steering wheel, $280 Air Ionization with cabin air filter, $180 heated and cooled cup holders and $5,400 Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Powertrain

Assembled in Alabama and intended for the autobahn, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is powered by a hand-crafted 5.5-liter AMG biturbo V-8 rated at 577 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to the AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic and the AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel drive system with a 40:60 rear bias. This powertrain helps rocket the 5,754-pound performance SUV from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph. As you can imagine, this kind of performance on such a big SUV results in less than ideal fuel economy, but even with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway**, the GLS63 is not that much worse than other full-size SUVs.

Despite its sporty tuning, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is still easy to operate as a daily driver thanks to numerous drive modes. The Comfort setting is what you’ll want with grandma riding in the backseat, but the AMG’s Sport+ mode – instead of the Off-Road mode offered on non-AMG GLS models – tightens up the response of the engine, steering and transmission shift points. For a big SUV, the steering is amazingly precise, while the big brakes (slotted and drilled) get the GLS63 slowed down with impressive distance. On top of everything else, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is still incredibly practical with up to 93.8 cubic feet of cargo inside and the ability to tow up to 7,500 pounds (and this SUV was ready to do so with the $575 trailer hitch).

Mercedes-AMG GLS63

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Safety

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class has not yet rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 2018 GLS does come standard with safety features like Collision Prevention Assist Plus and Crosswind Assist, while the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 adds Distance Pilot Distronic, Steering Pilot, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active LED Headlamps and Adaptive Highbeam Assist to list of standard safety features.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Overall

If you want a big luxurious SUV to haul around your family and friends, then the standard GLS-Class is more than suitable for the job; if you want to haul more than people (and you know what I’m talking about here), the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is the 577-horsepower tool that you need. While there are other performance SUVs out there, the GLS63 is unique in its seven-passenger seating ability as well as its luxurious, limo-like accommodations.

In its base form, the 2018 GLS-Class starts at $69,550* going up against rivals such as the Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, but the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is an entirely different beast, which is reflected by its $125,300 base price. Even though this is almost double a base GLS, you definitely get your money’s worth on the AMG model in regards to both performance and luxury. Adding on all the extra goodies, the Brilliant Blue GLS63 used for this test drive review had an as-tested price of $135,050.

Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Mercedes-Benz dealership and test drive the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 today!

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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