The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 SUV hauls, in every sense of the word.

The latest vehicle sales in the U.S. paint the clear picture that SUVs are ever-increasing in sales at the expense of the more traditional four-door sedans. Likewise, luxury makers are currently filling in every SUV niche from the small to the very large. Now added to the equation on the very top of the agenda are high-performance SUVs.

Exhibit A for this class is the Mercedes AMG GLS63. The AMG group hand assembles the engines to achieve maximum output. For the recently refreshed GLS63, the horsepower of the 5.5-liter V-8 has been increased from the previous edition by 27 units, for a total of 577. Coupled to the power plant is a seven-speed controllable automatic transmission, hooked up to an all-wheel-drive system. The gear-shifting choices include comfort, sport, sport plus and snow; and if manual gear control is of interest, paddles behind the steering wheel are ready for action.

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63

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And action there is. This large and roomy SUV can haul with the best of the performance vehicles with a zero-to-60 time of 4.5 seconds. When pushed, the big V-8 gives off a husky sound from the four exterior exhaust pipes without being too intrusive. Normally, gear changes are rarely felt. Large 21-inch wheels and tires assist in the handling department. For extra fuel mileage, a start-stop system is available. In other words, the engine turns off at a red light and automatically turns on when moving forward.

As expected with Mercedes, a leather-lined luxury interior is presented to the seven passengers. With various buttons, the seats can be heated or cooled as needed. A huge power and tilt sliding panoramic sunroof is also provided. As with most cars these days, a video screen in the center of the dash handles navigation, stereo and other features. Interestingly, when in the map/navigation mode, a 3-D version shows a rendering of the buildings in the neighborhood you are driving in. Essentially, the screen is about the size of a standard iPad, but operates with dials and buttons. Interestingly enough, a small touch pad on the center console can control various functions, and if that is not to your liking, a simple dial below the pad can be utilized. Exterior-mounted cameras show what is around the SUV on the screen. And for the parallel-parking challenged, this SUV can park itself.

Rear passengers are not left out. Row two of the seats can accommodate three passengers easily. Optional video screens are mounted on the back of the two front seats for DVDs, and earphones are also provided. Sunshades can be raised or lowered in the side windows to handle glare issues. Pushing a button can help gain access to the third row, which can accommodate two more travelers.

In driving mode, one is immediately struck on how tall this Mercedes is. It towers over lesser SUVs. In the general-driving mode, one immediately notices that the steering is direct and precise as they come. Acceleration, if needed, is instantaneous. And with the controllable suspension settings, the ride can go from limo to semi-race-car, depending on your preference. As for towing that boat to the harbor, this SUV can handle up to 7,500 pounds.

With height, plenty of power and a myriad of luxury features, the AMG GLS63 certainly is a contender for one of the top rings in SUV land.

MERCEDES AMG GLS63

MODEL: LARGE 7-PASSENGER SUV PERFORMANCE: 0-60 TIME: 4.5 SECONDS
POWERTRAIN: 5.5 LITER V-8 WITH 577 HP, SEVEN-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, AND ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
PRICE: $124,700 BASE, AS TESTED $128,830

Photos courtesy Mercedes-Benz USA