2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

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2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Test Drive Review: One SUV To Rule Them All

by Gabe Beita Kiser

Big, brash, bold, yet somehow still tasteful. These are the characteristics one can find by looking at Mercedes' most extreme vehicle, the AMG GLS 63. The GL in its name designates it as a Mercedes SUV, the S as the largest of the bunch, and the 63 as the most powerful and dynamic in the family. Now, saner heads may be wondering how a large luxury SUV with lots of horsepower can be "extreme" in any way outside of its size, weight, and horsepower figures, but that group should kindly be reminded that its much easier to make a small low sports coupe like the AMG GT fast and dynamic. It's much more extreme to do that with a luxury-lined GLS. But alas, Mercedes figured out a way to combine all of those attributes into one car…way back in 2013 when the 2nd-generation GLS first debuted, but the result is so good that it stuck around until now. And with the non-AMG versions of the 2020 GLS, the SUV's third generation, available to the masses and replacing the 2019 model we drove, it's only a matter of time before the AMG GLS 63 is overshadowed by the 3rd-generation GLS 63.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 6 /10
  • Performance 10 /10
  • Fuel Economy 5 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 6 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 7 /10
  • Value For Money 6 /10
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2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2018 AMG GLS 63?

Mercedes-Benz has not made any major changes for 2019, and the GLS carries over the same specifications from last year. Mercedes have however added a Grand Edition Package that includes exclusive brown Nappa leather and Linden wood inserts, as well as multicolor ambient interior lighting and door sill lighting.

Pros and Cons

  • One seriously fast SUV
  • Hides its weight well
  • Has enough space for seven people
  • Ultra-luxurious speed
  • It's thirsty, even for a large SUV
  • You pay dearly for the extra performance
  • Cargo space is limited behind the third row of seats

What's the Price of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63?

The 2019 Mercedes AMG GLS 63 SUV costs $126,150 (MSRP) excluding license registration and a destination fee of $995. The 2019 BMW X7 xDrive50i undercuts the Mercedes-Benz by $33,550, costing $92,600 and the top of the range Cadillac Escalade will still be nearly $30,000 cheaper at $97,295.

Best Deals on 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
5.5L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

Behind the wheel of the GLS 63, it's easy to be tricked into thinking one is driving a vehicle that's much smaller than this AMG really is. One feels low in the cabin thanks to the AMG Sport suspension, which can be raised or lowered to suit terrain and handling needs, but that (relatively) low-slung feeling is also coupled with a nimble ride that has just about all body roll ironed out of it. It's a marvel really, crank the wheel at high speed and the nose just darts in the chosen direction but stays flat against the horizon. The rest of the body follows through as flat as the nose, with the AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel drive system allowing all four wheels to max out their grip budgets. Even the brakes, which usually reveal a "sport" SUV's weight if it has a suspension made of magic, are no help here because the AMG High-Performance stopping system features a pedal with a smooth athletic feel as well as large rotors and eager calipers that can erase the engine's most savage efforts without making much of a fuss. And then, just when you think there's no way to make an SUV feel more worthy of a track day, you get to the steering. A single turn is all it takes to reveal its natural athleticism and a strong sense of engagement. Steering is direct and quicker than that of a normal SUV, but weight is balanced perfectly as to make it so inputs have to be deliberate but don't require exertion. The GLS 63's on-center area is also larger than a sports car's but smaller than a normal SUV's, translating to easy maneuvering at low speeds and stability well into the triple digits.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 A Good SUV?

The AMG GLS 63 is not just a good car, it's utterly fantastic. Sure, it's going stale, at least visually and technologically, but what will never go out of style is how much of a joy it is to drive. There is, however, one big and obvious catch: the fact Mercedes is on the cusp of replacing it with a model that will likely be just as good to drive and will remedy the gripes we have with its aged styling and infuriating technology. That alone makes it hard to justify our tester's $137,005 price including destination. There is, however, a counterargument to be made. That would be the 2020 GLS' change in focus. Rather than getting the "S" in its name by default because it's the largest Mercedes SUV available, the new GLS is larger and more comfort-focused than the one it leaves behind. That could have serious implications for the third-generation GLS 63' handling, which is the 2nd-generation's best attribute. At least if Mercedes does ruin the 3rd-generation AMG's handling, there's always a chance to snag the 2019 AMG model on the used market.

What Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Model Should I Buy?

Like the S-Class, the GLS already comes loaded with most of the premium features a range-topping luxury car should have. That being said, there are still a few options that should be added. As with all Mercedes, the GLS 63 gets better as its price goes up (which is not something that can be said about all cars). That's why the ideal GLS 63 has 22-inch wheels for a more stylish look, the optional $500 AMG performance steering wheel that's wrapped in Nappa leather and DINAMICA suede, the $4,550 Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, power Easy-Entry feature for the second-row seats for $400, heated and cooled cupholders for $180, a $1,950 rear-seat entertainment system, 2nd-row window shades to enhance viewing pleasure for $380, and a $280 cabin air purification system to round it all out. All said and done, our optimal GLS 63 comes out to $136,000 excluding destination.

Check out other Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class Styles

2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Comparisons

Cadillac Escalade Cadillac
BMW X7 CarBuzz

2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 vs Cadillac Escalade

The Cadillac Escalade is one of the most well-loved big SUVs on the market, and also offers true seven-seater capacity. The 2019 Escalade sticks to a traditional naturally aspirated V8 that produces a high flying 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. All that power is sent to all four corners via a ten-speed automatic transmission. The Escalade uses slightly less gas (14/21/18 mpg city/highway/combined) and provides more interior space than the GLS, but can't beat the German's build quality and choice of materials. Both cars offer similar levels of cargo space. The Cadillac costs $97,295, almost $30,000 cheaper than the Mercedes, but for good reason, the Mercedes is in a different class, both performance- and comfort-wise.

See Cadillac Escalade Review

2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 vs BMW X7

The 2019 BMW X7 is BMW's largest SUV offering and will seat seven passengers in premium comfort. Powering the BMW is a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that kicks out 456 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. The lighter and less powerful BMW gets 18 mpg on average, slightly better than the Mercedes. The BMW has a smaller interior and less cargo space than the AMG GLS. The BMW is on par with the GLS in terms of build quality and tech features and also drives superbly. The BMW X7 xDrive50i costs $92,600 and offers a lot of the same capabilities as the AMG GLS but at a much cheaper going rate. Newer and likely to stand the test of time better, we'd recommend the X7.

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