2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 SUV Is a Posh Family Truckster

2024 mercedes amg gls63 4matic parked on grass near water
2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Is a Posh Family TrucksterAutoweek
  • The 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 4Matic is the in-house tuner's seven-seat SUV, serving up 603 hp courtesy of a 4.0-liter biturbo V8 paired with a 48-volt hybrid setup.

  • The GLS63 is an opulent cruiser with dazzling tech inside and certainly feels more comfortable on the freeway than it does in town, even though it's maneuverable enough in extra-urban settings.

  • With a starting price of $146,900, the 2024 GLS63 4Matic (optioned to $155,200 as seen in these photos) is a very complete and luxurious land yacht, ready for long vacation blasts on the interstate, especially if fuel economy is not a concern.

The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class has been around long enough to stake out a claim to its own style of luxury errand running. The GLS-Class debuted back when the Range Rover was really its sole European competitor, almost 20 years ago now, and over the years the formula hasn't changed all that much, even though the GLS-Class has now been upstaged to some extent by the redesigned G-Class.


But the boxy and once-spartan G-Class remains a somewhat different offering, one that's not really aimed at long-distance cruises with six or seven people on board.

That's what the GLS-Class is still for, even though most of the time you'll see it on much shorter trips, like in the drop-off lane at a private school.

But even among the various versions of the GLS-Class there are different levels of performance and luxury. At the bottom end of that range we have a diesel version, not available stateside but certainly popular enough in Europe.

And at the top end we have the Mercedes-AMG GLS63 4Matic, which can be easily optioned to twice as much as a base version costs in Europe.

The GLS63 remains a niche and somewhat aloof offering at a time when complex hybrids and EVs are inching toward this elite segment. And its biturbo V8 certainly reminds us of a time when AMG was an outside tuner in the 1990s when, along with Brabus, it was stuffing the biggest V8s it could find into everything Mercedes-Benz made.

the interior of a car
The cabin of the GLS63 is very cozy, with an intuitive infotainment layout that doesn’t overwhelm or distract.Autoweek

In the case of the GLS63, it's "merely" a 4.0-liter V8 these days, but it's helped by turbocharging and a 48-volt hybrid setup, producing 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque.

But for the moment it doesn't really have a direct competitor among EVs, and it won't have one for a while. Even Mercedes' own EQS SUV is a unique machine, aimed at a different use case and a different buyer, one who won't be taking six other passengers on a road trip anytime soon.

The GLS63 will do that, with a bass soundtrack and a range the EQS SUV can't match.

But is the GLS63 worth the hefty price premium over the base GLS-Class, or is it worth two other well-optioned SUVs from Mercedes?

We had a chance to test the 2024 GLS63 4Matic over the course of several hundred miles on the roads of a major city and the rural interstate alike, and we came away impressed with its ability to prevent fatigue over long journeys, even after hours of driving on some rather large 23-inch wheels.

That's more of a credit to the seats and the height-adjustable suspension rather than the biturbo V8 underhood, but the V8 certainly allows one to exploit overtaking opportunities during high-speed cruising, making this a comfortable way to eat up hundreds of miles in an afternoon while offering 18 mpg on the highway (if you take it easy on the gas).

a car parked on a road
With room for seven, the GLS63 offers plenty of power for long weekend jaunts, especially if fuel economy is not a concern.Autoweek

The jumbo wheels in this day and age seem mandatory in this price range, but we're not sure they do the ride quality any favors on standard US urban pavement. We didn't hear any metal clangs driving over some urban pavement that hadn't seen patchwork since the Clinton administration, but there isn't much rubber stretched across those 23-inch rims, either.

Unlike in other vehicles of its type, the Sport and Sport+ modes actually do transform the performance noticeably, without resorting to just making the exhaust louder and the gear changes more aggressive.

For relaxed highway cruising, the 603-hp GLS63 has more than enough power on tap even in Comfort mode, but it becomes a much more focused machine in Sport mode, feeling like a much smaller and lighter SUV.

When pressed to impersonate a sports sedan, the GLS63 can hide most of its weight, but despite 3.6-second sprints from 0 to 60 mph it can't quite hide all of it in the corners. As such, this remains more a hefty 44-gun frigate that can impress with straight-line acceleration, as well as braking, but isn't quite compact enough to be asked to do more.

Sport+ mode does its best to sharpen its reflexes, but it's best to remember that you're in a heavy vehicle with three rows of seats.

The interior of the GLS63 is just this side of baroque, in contrast to BMW's more abstract, angular themes found in its X7 mega-yacht, but it suits the AMG model well, with ergonomic seats and suede surfaces quickly making sense in a vehicle with this kind of price tag.

The plastic steering column shifter, which seemed fragile when it debuted, has become standard across the range a while ago—with Mercedes choosing not to mess with what isn't broken—and the drive mode selection dial attached to the steering wheel, complete with its own little display screen, has also become familiar over time.

The twin 12.3-inch screens in the cabin have become a common sight in the top models Mercedes offers, but the automaker has also retained physical buttons beneath the air vents, so not everything is hidden in complex menus. A touchpad on the center console doubles as a controller for the infotainment screen, and it's orbited by more buttons to quickly call up a map or radio controls.

Mercedes' voice assistant is adept at taking instructions for radio channel changes and interior temperature tweaks, though more complex instructions regarding routes are a bit beyond its reach for now.

On the trim front, Mercedes hasn't followed other automakers down the Piano Black route, which keeps the interior looking non-greasy, with upscale metallic switches and buttons helping keep everything fingerprint-free. It's an interior those familiar with 1990s Benzes will likely appreciate.

The middle row seats, meanwhile, do a good impression of first-class airline seats, especially when reclined, while also leaving quite a bit of legroom for back-row passengers.

The third row of seats is reasonably generous, as far as these things go, but it does take a few seconds for the powered second row of seats to roll forward to allow ingress and egress.

the inside of a car
The third row of seats is quite real and usable, unlike in some SUVs just a segment below this one.Autoweek

Affalterbach's galleon is perhaps one of the last vehicles of its generation, just before everything becomes electric, with some kind of giant battery and a comparable (if not higher) six-figure price tag.

This era is already upon us, in a way, but so far we haven't really seen anything approach the GLS-Class' level of luxury, space, passenger comfort, range, or completeness, with Mercedes itself designing the electric EQS SUV to offer a very different experience.

There's no replacement for displacement, as the old saying goes, and the GLS63 proves a more user-friendly and complete machine than a comparably priced Range Rover at the moment.

The GLS63 throws in everything and the kitchen sink while delivering everyday practicality, as strange as that sounds for something with a biturbo V8 with 603 hp on tap, and a starting price of $146,900.

The closest alternative, if you're in the mood to save some money and buy an A-Class tender with the leftover cash, is Mercedes' own non-AMG GLS, which starts at $88,150 these days.

Odds are, if you're looking at vehicles like these, you can probably afford either one, with the AMG model delivering that extra oomph without seeming excessively garish or resorting to controversial designs to get attention in traffic.

If you had this much to spend, would you rather have two GLE-Class SUVs or one of these? Let us know in the comments below.