2nd Place: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG
After the G-Class, the off-road capability of the AMG SUVs drops off dramatically. It isn't the fault of the GL-Class itself. With the regular GL, you can get a terrific On- and Off-Road package that includes a two-speed transfer case, skidplates, and six transmission modes. That isn't even an option in the GL63. In addition, there's a fairly low airdam in front, so if the lack of true four-wheel drive didn't stop you, the low ground clearance in front would.
However, if you don't need to go off-road, the GL63 has a lot to offer. Its 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 has 550 hp and 560 lb-ft. It has the most towing capacity of the trio, and is the only one with three-row seating. The exhaust practically growls when downshifting. Handling was impressive, considering the vehicle's size, and there isn't a lot of body roll. The ride is even nicer in the AMG GL than in the regular sport/utility.
At the track, the GL63 hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. Interestingly, the GL63 is less than 100 pounds lighter than the G, yet it's 0.3 second faster to 60. There was a much bigger difference in braking. While the G stopped in a relatively short 113 feet from 60 mph, the GL63 only needed 104.
For sheer luxury, the GL's interior is the nicest of the group. The GL had beautiful creamy vented white leather with black stitching and Piano Black accents throughout the cabin. It's probably better that this vehicle doesn't go off-road, as that leather would get dirty in 10 seconds on the trail. This isn't quite the icon that the G-Class is, but it is a great vehicle in its own right.
3rd Place: 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG
While it may be a coincidence that the as tested price went down from first to second to third place, it isn't a coincidence that the level of capability decreases. No offense to the M-Class, but it is the least capable of the three SUVs here. Unlike the G and the GL, there isn't an extensive off-road package available. (The off-road package consists of a front skidplate and air suspension.) The AMG comes with air suspension, but no low range. The M-Class also doesn't offer the same seating capacity or cargo volume as the GL -- it's on a much shorter wheelbase -- nor does it tow as much as the other two SUVs.
The V-8 puts out 518 hp, which translated into a 4.3-second 0-60 time. This is the lightest of the three SUVs, weighing in at 5243 pounds. That's more than 600 pounds less than the G and more than 500 less than the GL. Even though the horsepower and torque are lower, considering the M's lighter weight, we would've expected less than a 0.4-second difference between the M and the GL. Braking wasn't as good as the GL's, either. While it was close, the heavier three-row SUV stopped 2 feet shorter than the 106 feet the ML63 took. If a vehicle lacks capability, ideally it would make up for it in performance. This one didn't make up for it enough.
On paper, it has all of the right boxes checked: 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8, seven-speed automatic, power everything, Designo leather interior, panorama sunroof. Yet when we drove the AMG M-Class, we felt it was not the most rewarding experience of the three sport/utilities here. It is definitely a competent vehicle, and is genuinely fast, but the M-Class didn't have the same growl, the same attitude, and the same performance feel as the rest of the trio.
| || 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG || 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG || 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG |
| BASE PRICE || $135,205 || $117,830 || $97,005 |
| PRICE AS TESTED || $144,305 || $128,030 || $113,445 |
| LAYOUT || Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV || Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV || Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV |
| ENGINE || 5.5L/536-hp/561-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 || 5.5L/550-hp/560-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 || 5.5L/518-hp/516-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 |
| TRANSMISSION || 7-speed automatic || 7-speed automatic || 7-speed automatic |
| WHEELBASE || 112.2 in || 121.1 in || 114.8 in |
| LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT || 187.5 x 80.9 x 76.3 in || 202.6 x 84.3 x 72.8 in || 189.1 x 75.8 x 70.7 in |
| CURB WEIGHT || 5876 lb || 5787 lb || 5243 lb |
| GVWR || 7055 lb || 7165 lb || 6724 lb |
| PAYLOAD CAPACITY || 1179 lb || 1378 lb || 1481 lb |
| TOWING CAPACITY || 7716 lb || 7500 lb (est) || 7200 lb |
| 0-60 MPH || 5.0 sec || 4.7 sec || 4.3 sec |
| BRAKING, 60-0 MPH || 113 ft || 104 ft || 106 ft |
| EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON || 12/14 mpg || 13/17 mpg || 13/17 mpg |
| ON SALE IN U.S. || Currently || Currently || Currently |