2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 Review: Balling Hard and Changing Diapers in the Best SUV Money Can Buy
The new G-Wagen is tremendous—and a new parent's best friend.
New dad life is never dull. Laughter, tears, dirty diapers, heart-swelling pride, and midnight meltdowns are just a sampling of its delights—none of which are the hallmarks of glamour. That's especially true when your whip isn't the sort to be featured on the next Lil Nas X track. But it turns out that everything involved in fatherhood is made slightly better behind the wheel of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63.
Though Mercedes-AMG didn’t start with plans to build the ultimate dad-mobile in the Gelandewagen's second generation, the finished product meets so many parenting necessities that it nearly obfuscates the top-of-the-line G63's power, poise, and off-road prowess. But fear not—no matter how much everyday usability is baked into the new truck, its baller, twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V8 and mountain-goat capabilities aren't lost. Both reality and fantasy exist simultaneously.
The 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63, By the Numbers
- Base Price (as Tested): $147,500 ($170,000)
- Powertrain: Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 | 577 horsepower, 627 pound-feet of torque | 9-speed automatic | all-wheel drive with lockable low-range
- 0-60 mph: 4.5-seconds
- Top Speed: 149 mph
The Notorious G63
Mercedes-AMG is known for its bellicose hand-built engines, and the G63's character is rooted in 4.0-liter V8 power plant. It's completely ridiculous in the best way—a close cousin lies under the hood of the Mercedes-AMG GT R—producing 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. That sort of world-bending twist is pushed to all four wheels with a 40/60 power split between the front and rear axles, both of which feature locking differentials for off-road antics. But on pavement, the G63 hits 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds en route to a staggering top speed of 149 mph.
It's one thing to read those numbers off a spec sheet. It's quite another to slide behind the wheel and feel the 5,842-pound truck surge forward with perspective-altering speed. Right foot down, the 9-speed automatic gearbox drops as many gears as it can to keep up with the fast-revving twin-turbo V8. Shifts resound with a low-pitched blat as the turbochargers only slightly muffle the V8 cacophony. Nothing seems like it’d be able to stop the G63—not even its boxy, brick-like aerodynamics.
Hands on the leather-wrapped, beautifully-stitched steering wheel—another touch from AMG's sports cars—it's a riot to floor it and watch the world go from stationary to a blur of green, all while the cloistered interior cushions both driver and precious cargo. While other fathers are driving around hybrid crossovers, you're piloting a loud-and-proud bomber equipped with a big red button reading "NUKE."
And while you could live out your militaristic fantasies alone in that bank vault of a cabin, clicking the rifle-action locks and sinking into the heated, cooled, and massaging (yes, you can activate all three at once) front seats, the Mercedes-AMG G63 is also one of the most practical vehicles for your ever-growing family. Somehow the combination of speed, the crystal-clear Burmester sound system, interior seclusion, and chassis design combine to form a perfect rolling baby room. It’s just that this one has a massive three-pointed star stationed at the front instead of a Disney character.
Child, Please (Keep Your Feet Off My Leather Seats)
Ask any parent about the rigors of child-rearing, and a few key scenarios arise—like changing foul diapers, lulling kids to sleep, holding their minute attention spans, and storing their ever-increasing cadre of gear. A thousand parenting blogs and books present an infinite amount of solutions, but really, the killer app for parental predicaments is the Mercedes-AMG G63.
We're going to get real here for a second. Above all, changing a diaper on the go is one of the trickiest situations for parents to manage, and the task isn't made easier by the tiny cargo areas presented by most three-row crossovers or painfully low load floor of any sedan trunk. While the chances of Affalterbach's finest engineers thinking about how best to solve this problem with the new G-Wagen are small, they've done it—swing wide the massive rear (side-opening) hatch and it becomes a mobile changing station with the perfect H-point and wonderfully plush carpet for the little one. Bing, bang, boom, and the diaper change is done.
Its squared-off design also makes for tons of usable cargo space to stack the hundreds of pounds of child necessities you inevitably gather: Strollers, extra car seats, high chairs, a thousand and one diaper bags, toys, pool floaties, inflatable pools to go with the pool floaties, bottles, and snacks. You know, everything necessary for even the shortest of trips.
When it comes to naptime, one time-tested method is to toss them in the back of a car, queue up their favorite nonsensical song, and go for a drive. That can be risky in a normal car with fixed suspension—one pothole, and the kid's awake again. It’s different in the G63. The AMG Ride Control air suspension smoothes out the bumps, the Burmester surround system does its thing, and fussy children are easily pacified. We also found that the G63's louder exhaust setting resonates through the interior and burbles at an ideal rhythmic tempo for lulling babies to sleep, though your own mileage may vary with that technique.
German Swiss Army Knife
When Mercedes-Benz announced it would finally build an all-new Geländewagen after four decades, loyalists chewed their fingernails with nervous anticipation. After all, how often have we seen manufacturers screw around with the rebirth of an icon? But they needn't have worried—the all-new chassis, independent front suspension, and modern electronics are all welcome improvements to a time-tested formula. The G-Wagen, and indeed the hotter AMG G63 reviewed here, are proof that Mercedes-Benz took pains to ensure that the quintessential G-ness was maintained.
The Gelandewagen remains the German version of a Swiss Army knife. It can climb mountains, ford streams, and mud with the best of them (given better tires, of course). That utilitarianism is a constant, but so is its luxury and usability. With a slightly more spacious interior than the previous version, as well as more premium materials and technology—including the sort of passive and active safety systems you expect from Mercedes-Benz, which has long been a leader in the safety field—the new Mercedes-AMG G63 can hang with the best Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Lamborghini have to offer.
However, whereas its competitors end their capabilities at the track or delivering luxury, Mercedes-AMG went farther and can be used as one of the best parental devices in their toolbox. Everything is easier in a G63, including entertaining your progeny with an impromptu trail run.
This rare combination doesn’t come cheap; the Mercedes-AMG G63 has a base price of $147,500, and the one we ran through the humid Chicago suburbs last month was optioned up to $170,000. By no means is it a deal, and it remains a plaything for the rich and powerful. Also, water is wet. But for that cash, you're getting a seriously quick SUV that can actually manage the rigors of daily life, no exceptions. And for anyone just below that price bracket, hungrily eyeing your baby's college fund, rest easy—lightly-used, off-lease models will be popping up in a few short years. When that happens, queue up Biggie, slip on your Ray Bans, put the kid in the back seat, and hit the streets. Or the dirt. Either way, you’ll be balling so hard.
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