2021 Mercedes-AMG G63 review: Even more capable


These wheels and tires are unique to the AMG Trail Package.

Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class has end-of-the-world, Schöckl-scaling off-road capability, but that’s not why most people buy ’em. In the US, the G63 outsells the base G550, and not by a small margin. On top of that, I can pretty much guarantee all the AMGs you see running around have 22-inch wheels and rubber bands for tires. It’s why I’ve always said the G550 is actually the better buy for folks who might want to get a little dirty. But thanks to a new option pack for the 2021 AMG G63, that’s not really the case anymore.

LikeUnmatched off-road abilityStrong V8 powerComfortable ride qualityIconic style

Don’t LikeOlder multimedia techLousy fuel economyHigh cost of entry

For $3,050, you can spec your 2021 Mercedes-AMG G63 with the AMG Trail Package. This adds a recalibrated off-road setting to the G63’s driving modes, with softer damping for a slightly more deft approach to off-roading. This pack also adds a black underbody brush guard, all-season floor mats, rear mud flaps and matte black 20-inch wheels with — and this is the important bit — all-terrain tires. Capability aside, the Trail Package is a really cool look. And paired with new paint colors like this test car’s G Manufaktur Arabian Grey, I’m 100% here for AMG’s butch updo.

The all-terrain tires in question are deliciously meaty 275/50 Pirelli Scorpion ATRs. Their tall sidewalls and aggressive tread pattern are far better than those on any all-season tire, especially when the going gets tough. Those deep treads can better expel dirt and mud, and when aired down, they provide excellent traction and control in deep sand. Look, I’m not going to try and tell you the G63 isn’t a stellar off-roader in its stock spec, but great suspension geometry, locking axles and a big V8 mean bupkis if the contact patches — the points where your car actually touches the ground — are weak.

2021 Mercedes-AMG G63 can climb a mountain on the way to the mall

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Let’s not forget the heart and soul of the G63: AMG’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. This engine produces 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. This not only rockets the G63 to 60 mph in a scant 4.4 seconds, it means there’s a huge reserve of low-end power available at all times. I’ll admit, even with the sophisticated suspension and appropriate tires, a lot of hairy off-roading situations can be remedied by following the trusty “when in doubt, power out” theory.

But even if you never take the G63 off-road, the Trail Package pays dividends in daily life, too. These softer tires make for a more comfortable highway ride, and while the tradeoff here is reduced lateral traction at speed, let’s be honest, you aren’t doing any hot cornering in a freaking G63. The tire change shouldn’t affect your fuel economy, either; expect to see the same dismal 13 miles per gallon city, 16 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined as before. Then again, what else would you expect from a 577-hp SUV that’s about as aerodynamic as a barn?

The G-Class still uses Mercedes’ older COMAND infotainment.

Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

The G63’s basic chassis and steering calibrations don’t change if you select the AMG Trail Package, so all of those good — well, unique — attributes carry over, as well. Plus, every G63 comes standard with Mercedes’ full suite of driver-assistance features, including full-speed adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist and lane-keeping assist. The G63 also comes with a 360-degree camera, which is super helpful when negotiating tight situations, off-road or otherwise.

Beyond driving aids, the G63 gets all of the G-Class’ best cabin tech, with one major caveat. There’s a 12.3-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch central infotainment screen, but this runs the older COMAND setup, not Mercedes’ excellent new MBUX interface. That means there’s no touchscreen, no augmented reality navigation overlays and no friendly “Hey, Mercedes” voice to tell you a joke when you’re having a poopy day. At least COMAND has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto bundled in, as well as a number of Mercedes-Benz connected services. A Burmester sound system is standard, too.

The G63’s interior is just so damn nice, with optional Nappa leather surfaces, real metal accents and excellent attention to detail. There’s headroom for days, even if shoulder room is on the narrow side, and the G63 has plenty of no-additional-cost amenities, like heated front and rear seats, multicolor ambient lighting, a sunroof and more. The back seats are tight-ish, but at least there’s real legroom in this generation G-Class, and the heavy, side-hinged rear door opens to reveal a huge cargo hold — though most of the usable space is vertical. Go buy some tall plants, but put a tarp down so you don’t mess up the carpet.

Arabian Grey is a $6,500 paint option.

Michael Shaffer/Mercedes-Benz

You’ll need at least $157,500 to get into a 2021 Mercedes-AMG G63, including $1,050 for destination. Throw in the $3,050 AMG Trail Package — along with my test car’s AMG Night Package ($1,950), Comfort Seat Package ($2,220), carbon-fiber trim ($3,700), Arabian Grey paint ($6,500) and a few other odds and ends — and you’ll get to the $176,370 as-tested price of the G63 pictured here. There’s a whole wide world of color and trim options available for the G63, too, so by all means, go nuts.

I’d be remiss not to mention that the $132,800 G550 will check 95% of the same boxes for a lot less money, though the Trail Package is only available on the G63. (Nothing a tire shop can’t partially remedy, though.) Then again, given the G’s sales stats, the 550/AMG disparity clearly doesn’t matter. And now that the Trail Package amplifies the G63’s off-road cred to G550-surpassing levels, the hilariously powerful AMG is even harder to argue against. Live it up, big spender.


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