German automakers have among the industry’s most loyal customers. In J.D. Power’s initial loyalty survey last year, Lexus led return customer ratings among luxury brands with 47.6 percent. Mercedes-Benz was second (44.2 percent), followed by BMW (43.6), Porsche (43.5) and Audi (43.3).
What the prominent California data intelligence company can’t and shouldn’t be expected to determine is if automotive loyalty has a financial ceiling. When a customer decides to their sell their Mercedes-Benz, will they still purchase a new model regardless of price?
A key example is the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63. It’s the high-performance, customized version of the Mercedes-Benz GLS series. Its new name debuted in 2017.
The base price is about $10,000 more than the now five-year-old model when it was new. With all options included, the just-released beast can exceed $153,000.
2021 Mercedes-AMG is costly. Is it worthy?
With other luxury and the debut of supercar SUVs — Bentley to Lamborghini, Land Rover to Maserati — far more expensive options exist. But is the GLS 63 worthy since it can exceed the $150,000 threshold?
The 2021 debut of the SUV’s third edition combines plenty into one vehicle. It’s a rugged as any Mercedes, but it’s also luxurious, refined, versatile (three rows of seating), off-road capable and performance-oriented.
New for 2021 is a more powerful engine, a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 603 horsepower matched with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The GLS 63 also has a small electric motor/generator that produces 21 horsepower. It’s used to assist in upshifting and automatic restarts and control idle speed. Estimated gas mileage averages are 14 miles per gallon in city driving, 22 mpg on the highway.
The SUV’s quiet, powerful driving personality is also assisted by the manufacturer’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Fifty percent of the power can automatically be transferred to the front wheels in slippery road conditions.
The new Mercedes AMG GLS 63 is also bigger. It has a five-inch longer wheelbase and is one-foot longer overall. As a large luxury SUV, the new offering doesn’t comprise; it’s versatile in all circumstances.
For economy, the automatic’s restarts after long intersections or stoplights are seamless, and six driving modes are offered — Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Individual, Trail and Sand. The options complement the GLS 63’s impressive performance.
It accelerates from 0-to-60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds, particularly impressive for an SUV. It has an electronically limited speed of 174 mph. In Sport mode, the SUV is lowered by four inches, further finessing the smooth, confident drive on twisting mountain roads.
With its performance choices, safety also reigns. Automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot assist and a system that senses if the driver is getting fatigued are all standard.
The GLS 63 features a top-line interior. Nappa leather, heated and vented front seats, a panoramic moonroof and several other stand-alone features vault the GLS 63’s status and its price. The multi-spoke, 23-inch forged wheels and the Burmester sound system are the most expensive options, both $4,550.
The navigation system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and wireless smartphone charging are standard as are the substantial instrument panel/media display and 64 colors of ambient interior lighting. The leather-covered center console includes two grab handles. They’re a better choice than the standard, often awkwardly position handles above doors.
Its exterior color doesn’t make a car, but the AMG’s Emerald Green Metallic attracted lots of comments. It’s a chameleon-like choice. The GLS 63 glistens a handsome deep green in the sun; it appears seriously black in the shade.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG 63 exudes class and craftsmanship. But is it worth the money? Yes, it is. But likely only to brand loyalists.