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Mercedes Unveils AMG GLS63 and GLE63 S Performance SUVs in L.A.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S

Competes with: GLE63S: BMW X5 M, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk; Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR; GLS63: Land Rover Range Rover SV Autobiography, Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Looks like: Big crossover SUVs with blingy wheels and aerodynamic body kits

Powertrain: 603-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8; nine-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission; full-time all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Mid-2020

If there’s one thing Los Angeles residents love, it’s big, blingy, expensive, fairly ridiculous SUVs. That’s why Mercedes-Benz chose the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show to reveal two of its latest to the world: the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S and 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS63. For the smaller GLE, this is the range-topping AMG performance model, slotting in above the AMG GLE63 that we have yet to see, while the bigger AMG GLS63 should get another S model above it if Mercedes-Benz keeps to its traditions. The GLE and GLS share the same underpinnings — and in this case, also the same engine and transmission.

Related: More 2019 L.A. Auto Show Coverage

Exterior

Both SUVs get the traditional AMG treatment, which is remarkably similar for both vehicles. Both get a redesigned grille, front bumper, blacked-out lower air intakes, and power domes on their hoods. Both get flared fenders, lowered side sills and high-gloss chrome trim around the side windows. Out back, new rear bumpers are also fitted, while exhaust pipes get the AMG branding treatment, as well. Wheels are standard 21-inch units for both SUVs, with 22-inchers optional on the GLE63 S and 23-inchers available on the GLS63.

If you like the murdered-out look, both vehicles can be had with the AMG Night Package, which replaces the chrome with high-gloss black on the front bumper features, mirrors and rear bumper trim strip. Dark anodized trim replaces the chrome on the window surrounds, while black chrome tailpipes and optional matte-black AMG wheels finish off the look.

Interior

Inside, the two also share a lot of common touches for cabin upgrades. Black floormats with illuminated AMG side sills are standard, as are embroidered sport seats front and rear, brushed stainless-steel pedals with black rubber nubbins, an AMG-specific steering wheel and Mercedes-Benz’s signature 64-color customizable ambient light treatment. The GLE63 S gets a more sporty treatment, with a choice of several interior color options, while the GLS63 goes for a more elegant bent with standard dark limewood trim. Both vehicles get standard Nappa leather upholstery.

The big difference between the two is space. The GLS is a larger vehicle and features a standard third row that can be optionally heated. Both models feature Mercedes-Benz’s latest 12.3-inch MBUX multimedia touchscreen and an additional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, both arranged behind a common glass panel for a seamless dashboard look. AMG-specific looks for the gauges are included, differentiating the models from lesser versions. Navigation is standard, while a head-up display, Burmester 3-D premium audio and “Energizing Comfort” packages are optional on both vehicles.

Under the Hood

The GLE63 S and the GLE63 are powered by the same powertrain: a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine making 603 horsepower and 627 pounds-feet of torque. It’s mated to a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving all four wheels through a permanent all-wheel-drive setup that features fully variable torque distribution. The system also employs a 48-volt mild-hybrid “EQ Boost” system that uses an electric motor to seamlessly augment the V-8 powertrain, and it allows for cylinder deactivation while cruising and a robust automatic engine stop-start system. Air suspension is standard, allowing for AMG’s Ride Control Plus active suspension management system to be employed, which lets the driver adjust the vehicle behavior by selecting various drive modes. Self-leveling load stabilization is standard, as is Active Ride Control active roll stabilization, which predicts when the vehicle is about to enter a corner and adjusts the air suspension to counter the centrifugal force as the driver turns into the bend, among other things.

The suspension can be adjusted in three modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. But the overall vehicle gets several more drive modes that adjust its performance using the AMG Dynamic Select system: Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual, Trail and Sand (the GLE63 S also adds Race). These adjust all elements of the vehicle, from transmission performance to throttle response to steering feedback and ride height to tailor the responses to the conditions. To make things even more confusing, the AMG Dynamic Select system allows adjustment of the steering for more drive modes: Basic and Advanced for a comfort-style setting, Pro and Master (GLE only) for increased effort and feedback. Suffice it to say, the vast majority of buyers are unlikely ever to explore most of these variable settings … but here they are in case you ever want to take your massive luxury SUV on a racetrack or camping in the wilderness.

Safety

A decent amount of safety equipment comes standard in the two models, including items such as parking sensors with a 360-degree surround-view camera, dynamic LED headlamps with adaptive high beams, blind spot assist, active brake assist, the Pre-Safe collision system, a driver attention monitor and active parking assist. Standard on the GLS and optional on the GLE is a driver assistance package that adds a laundry list of semi-autonomous driving aids such as active distance-keeping cruise control with speed limit assist, active steering assist, lane change assist, automatic emergency braking, a traffic jam assist function and a lot more.

No pricing has yet been revealed for either the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 or GLE63 S, both of which are expected to go on sale in the middle of 2020, but it’s safe to say that both will have a starting price north of $100,000 if the 2019 models can be used as precedent.

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