2017 Mercedes AMG GLS63

PHOENIX — In case you haven’t been paying attention, the definition of upper social class, prestige, luxury motoring is now the SUV, having supplanted large luxury sedans from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche as the choice vehicle for the global one percent. That certainly includes the seven-passenger Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS63 tested here.

It comes equipped with exhilarating driving dynamics powered by the mind-boggling adrenaline performance of 577 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque from the handcrafted 5.5-liter biturbo V-8 engine, connected to the AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-tronic transmission.

The GLS63 is a massively overqualified high-end luxury SUV with impeccable materials and refined quality. Loaded with cutting-edge high-tech operating, infotainment and safety innovations, there is no shortage of glitz and glamour atop Mercedes’ “king of the hill” SUV pile, which includes GLE, GLC and GLA.

The GLS isn’t a new vehicle for Mercedes, but for 2017 the GL changes its name to GLS. It also got a fresh look, with a facelift to the front end, a new hood with power bulges, and light design tweaks to the back, including a new rear bumper, full LED taillights and new wheel options. Despite the exterior changes, styling remains boxier rather than taking on Mercedes’ latest design language, which is curvaceous, aggressive and futuristic. It seems dated when parked next to a Range Rover or Porsche Cayenne.

The inside has a redesigned instrument panel and media display, a new multifunction steering wheel, and new trim options, which include special edition “designo” Diamond White and Cardinal Red quilted leather upholstery.

Mercedes has the edge when it comes to luxury SUVs outselling all other brands and the AMG GLS63 is not only everything you would want in a vehicle it’s also everything you could dream about wanting.

But what I love about the vehicle is its flat-out performance. Zero to 60 is achieved in just 4.6 seconds, matching a Mustang GT. It has surprising grip on twisty roads when selecting Sport or Sport+ from the suspension setting menu. While both of these measurements don’t approach supercar stats, when considering that GLS is a heavy 5,800-pound full-sized SUV, that kind of performance is more than impressive.

While it’s styling both inside and out may be close to expiring its freshness date, there’s something thrilling about driving a three-row family vehicle that’s loaded with safety tech, and a monstrous V-8 under the hood.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $121,100
Price as Tested: $131,470
Seating: 7
Engine: 5.5-liter Biturbo V-8
Horsepower: 577-hp
Fuel Economy: 13-MPG City – 17-MPG Highway
Crash Test Safety Ratings: Not yet rated

Competes With

Cadillac Escalade
Land Rover Range Rover
Porsche Cayenne

Fab Features

Thrilling performance
Mellifluous exhaust notes
Luxurious, roomy cabin

— Jim Prueter