2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S and GLS63: Big, Blingy Speed

Mercedes-Benz picked the right location to debut its latest high-dollar speed-demon SUVs, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S and supersized GLS63. The 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show is ground zero for big, blingy SUVs, of which there are plenty in Southern California.

Related: More 2019 L.A. Auto Show Coverage

The new SUVs are the latest high-performance models from Mercedes-Benz’ AMG tuner division, stuffed with powerful V-8 engines, electronic suspensions, huge wheels and glitzy interiors. They’re ridiculously fast, overpowered and gas guzzlers to boot, but at this level, those aren’t detractors for buyers in the slightest. These two monsters are all about being the baddest rig in the school drop-off lane, and in that role, they excel.

From the outside, you know both of these SUVs are something special. The styling changes that AMG brings to its performance SUVs successfully convey the idea of speed through additional inlets and strakes on the grille, flared fenders covering wide tires, side sill extensions and a choice of chrome or blacked-out trim, if you opt for the AMG Night Package. You can also specify some significant wheels, too, such as the huge AMG Monoblock wheels seen on the GLS63 on stage at the 2019 L.A. auto show. The GLS63 in white with the optional huge 23-inch wheels and gaping grille openings in black looked menacing onstage, and I imagine that it’s going to be equally noticeable on the streets, which is exactly what the company and its customers are looking for.

It’s hard to actually improve upon the already sumptuous interiors of the GLE- and GLS-Class SUVs, but Mercedes-Benz does it. Both feature Nappa leather everywhere in some creative patterns, and there are a choice of colors and trim bits. I’m not exactly a fan of carbon fiber trim — I think it looks rather plain and uninspiring — but you can specify that or some lovely wood trim instead. The seats in either SUV are sublimely comfortable, front or rear, but the third row of the GLS is a bit tight for full-sized humans. The idea of the GLS63, however, is more about image than practicality, and the image inside and out for either truck is one of exclusivity and extroversion.

Nobody is ever likely to take either one of these behemoths onto a racetrack — despite the myriad electronic adjustable suspension settings, transmission settings, steering settings and more. It’s difficult to sort a lot of it out, but the SUVs do have one feature that’s as useful as it is amazing: the Active Ride Control’s tilting function that leans into a corner like a train or a motorcycle. You notice it working when you’re driving, in that you’re not being tossed to the outside of a bend. It reduces driver fatigue considerably.

Of course, the AMG SUVs have the latest Mercedes-Benz MBUX multimedia system that features some slick technology like augmented reality displays for the navigation system. It also has a verbal concierge that prevents you from actually saying the word “Mercedes” when you’re in the vehicle, lest you accidentally trigger the system (as has happened in every model with MBUX I’ve tried).

Both of these SUVs are set to command a pretty penny when they arrive next year, but that also isn’t likely to be a barrier for their intended customers. For buyers wanting style, gobs of speed and lots of space to boot, few other alternatives will scratch that itch.

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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