2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S SUV

2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S SUV

If you’ve got more than 100-grand to shell out for a midsize luxury SUV, the GLE 63 delivers smokin’ performance, an opulent cabin, and cutting-edge technology and safety features. It’s basically a sports car in the body of an SUV. This over-the-top Benz can take you from the track to a camping trip.

Base Price: $113,950
As Tested: $131,880
Horsepower: 603
Mileage: 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway/16 mpg combined

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE comes in two body styles: SUV and coupe. There are five trims: GLE 350, GLE 450, GLE 53, GLE 580, and GLE 63 S. The GLE 53 and GLE 63 S trims are new for 2021. The coupe is only available in the 53 and 63 S trims. Starting prices range from $54,750 to $116,000.

While the regular GLE has room for up to seven passengers with an available third row, the AMG has seating for five in two rows.

The AMG GLE 63 S has blistering performance. It’s powered by the AMG 4.0-liter V8 biturbo engine that generates a stout 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired for the first time with an integrated EQ Boost starter-generator. This system combines a starter motor and alternator in an electric motor integrated between the engine and the transmission. It makes an additional electric output of up to 21 horses plus 184 pound-feet of torque providing for quick acceleration and powers the 48-volt onboard system and is used as a generator to perform hybrid functions. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard.

Despite its hefty size of 5,568 pounds, the AMG GLE63 can sure hustle. Mercedes-Benz says it can rocket from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds (all the while you’re enjoying a heated massage.) It has an electronically limited top speed of 174 mph. The AMG GLE63 will never have you wishing that you had more power. Body roll is surprisingly minimal, even when you corner with some speed. The AMG has a stiffer ride than you might expect in a Mercedes. It’s not jarring but you will feel some road imperfections.

Fuel economy is poor. EPA ratings for my tester are 15 mpg city and 19 mpg highway with a combined rating of 16. I got 17 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. Premium gas is required.

The sumptuous cabin is beautiful and loaded with the latest tech and features. Fit and finish is exceptional, with saddle-quality leather, brushed stainless steel door sill panels and sport pedals, and AMG trim elements in carbon fiber. Both rows are comfortable and spacious with lots of leg- and headroom. The cabin is quiet with road and wind noise barely noticeable.

Choose from Sport, Sport+, RACE and Comfort driving modes. Off-road capabilities are improved with “Trail” and “Sand” settings which raises the suspension by 2.16 inches to increase ground clearance.

The new Mercedes-Benz MBUX infotainment system has a 12.3-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. It can be controlled by touch, touch control buttons on the steering wheel, voice and gesture control. Say “Hey Mercedes” and the system is ready to respond. Graphics look great. There are so many menus that the system can feel complicated at first, but it becomes easy to use with some practice.

 Standard features include proximity keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, MBUX infotainment system with 12.3-inch touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, Bluetooth, navigation, HD Radio, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, five USB ports, wireless device charging and a sunroof.

Available features include a surround-view camera system, head-up display, quad-zone automatic climate control, cabin air fragrance system, 13- or 25-speaker Burmester audio system, two additional USB ports, heated steering wheel, ventilated and massaging front seats, heated second-row seats, heated front armrests, heated and cooled front cup holders, rear sunshades, power soft-close doors, panoramic sunroof, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive pivoting headlights, and a Class III trailer hitch.

Standard driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, front and rear parking sensors, hands-free park assist, and driver drowsiness monitoring.

Available driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.

Cargo space is about average for the class. The GLE has 33.3 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 74.9 cubes with the second row folded. A hands-free power liftgate is standard.

The good:

Powerful V8 engine with mild hybrid system

Nimble, athletic handling

Posh interior with beautiful fit and finish

Spacious, comfortable seats

Upgraded infotainment system

Many standard and available features and tech

Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Six-figure starting price

Price escalates quickly with add-ons

Poor fuel economy

Firmer ride than you may expect in a Mercedes

Infotainment system has learning curve

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $113,950. AMG Carbon Fiber trim is $1,750. AMG Carbon Fiber engine cover is $1,500. AMG Performance Steering Wheel in Carbon Fiber is $400. AMG cross-spoke forged wheels are $2,750. Rear side airbags are $700. Panorama sunroof is $1,000. Four-zone climate control is $860. MBUX Interior Assistant is $200. Pre-wiring for rear seat entertainment is $170. Magic Vision Control is $350. The MBUX Technology Package is $1,450 and includes MBUX augmented video for navigation and head-up display. The Driver Assistance Package Plus is $1,950 and includes active distance assist, active steering assist, active lane change assist, active emergency stop assist, active speed limit assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic function, evasive steering assist, active lane keeping assist, active blind spot assist, PRE-SAFE PL:US (rear-end collision protection), PRE-SAFE Impulse side, route-based speed adaptation, active stop-and-go assist, and traffic sign assist. The Warmth and Comfort Package is $1,050 and includes rapid heating front seats, heated front armrests and door panels. The Energizing Comfort Package Plus is $1,650 and includes the air balance package, and active multicontour front seats with massage feature. The Acoustic Comfort Package is $1,100 and includes increased cabin insulation, windshield with infrared-reflecting film, and side windows with acoustic and infrared absorbing film. Destination fee is $1,050 bringing the grand total to $131,880.

Bottom line:

If you want a fast, high-performance luxury SUV that drives more like a sports car, has room for five passengers and their gear, and an opulent cabin loaded with tech and features, and you can spend more than 100-grand on your next vehicle, the AMG brings all the luxury, power, amenities and refinement you expect. Is it excessive? Yes. But that’s exactly what some buyers crave.

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