If you want the most expensive things Mercedes-Benz has to offer, you turn to Maybach. Though up until now, the marque’s exclusivity was limited as much by its available models as its high prices. That’s because, for the past few years, it’s only had 2 S-Class-based sedans. Now, though, it has an SUV, the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600. But it’s not just the most expensive vehicle the German automaker offers. It’s also the most expensive American-made SUV on sale today.
How is the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 the most expensive American-made SUV?
The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600, like the S 560, is based on an existing Mercedes model. In this case, the flagship Mercedes-Benz GLS, which is also available in AMG trim. Only the GLS 600 is significantly more expensive than either model.
But while Mercedes-Benz is a German automaker, like other automakers, it splits its production across the world. The GLS 600 will be built in the marque’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama factory, The Drive reports, just like the base GLS. Therefore, the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 is the most expensive American-made mass-production vehicle.
Admittedly, there are a few low-production brands like Gateway Bronco, ICON 4×4, and Zero Labs that make six-figure SUVs. But none of those are made in an actual high-volume factory like the GLS 600 or the previous record-holder. Which, speaking of, was the modern Acura NSX supercar, which starts at $159,495 after destination.
The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 is also the brand’s most expensive vehicle period, Autoblog reports. If we stretch the definition of ‘SUV’ to include crossovers, then it’s also the brand’s most expensive SUV. Being body-on-frame, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG G 63 is technically the most expensive Mercedes SUV. However, it’s cheaper than the GLS 600; it starts at $156,450 after destination.
What makes the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 so expensive?
Considering the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 is over twice the price of the base 450 model, you’d expect it to offer some premium features. And indeed, the high-price crossover/SUV comes suitably equipped for chauffeur duty.
Like the AMG GLS 63, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 has a mild-hybrid-equipped 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, Motor1 reports. The Maybach model, though, is slightly detuned. Normally, it has ‘just’ 550 hp and 538 lb-ft, though the starter-generator adds up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft during acceleration. Still, with standard AWD and a 9-speed automatic, this luxurious bus can go 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, Car and Driver reports.
Inside, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 has a bevy of luxury features. It has Nappa leather upholstery, massaging heated and ventilated seats, ambient lighting, as well as heated and cooled cupholders, Motor Trend reports. There’s also an in-cabin fragrance aerosolizer, twin 12.3” touchscreens, and a Burmester High-End 3D audio system.
The rear passengers get a 7” personal tablet and a wooden parcel shelf separating them from the rear cargo area. Speaking of wood, all the wood in the trim has been aged at least 10 years, The Drive reports. Buyers can choose between a 3-seat 2nd row or dual rear captain’s chairs, and spec a refrigerated storage compartment with champagne flute holders. There’s no 3rd-row option, though.
Besides powering the starter-generator, the 48-volt mild-hybrid system is also linked to the GLS 600’s ‘E-Active Body Control,’ Autoblog reports. The crossover scans the road ahead and adjusts the air suspension in preparation for bumps, imperfections, and oncoming corners. And it means that the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 can bounce. Plus, the air suspension automatically raises and lowers for easy entry and egress, further assisted by powered running boards.
What’s the competition like?
The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 should hit dealerships later in 2020. And when it does, it will have some rivals.
For those interested in performance, there’s the 2021 Alpina XB7. Based on the BMW X7, its 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 puts out 612 hp and 590 lb-ft. With AWD and an 8-speed automatic, it goes 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, Car and Driver reports. Plus, it has rear-wheel steering, sport-tuned air suspension, and optional brake upgrades, Car and Driver reports.
Inside, it offers an optional LED ‘starlight’ headliner, 3rd-row seating, and a crystal infotainment controller, MT reports. However, the GLS 600 has a few more standard features. The XB7, though, is slightly cheaper, with a $141,300 base price.
If luxury is the goal, there’s the 2021 Bentley Bentayga. With a $180,000 starting price, it’s more expensive than the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600. It also has a smaller touchscreen, and its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 8 fewer horsepower.
However, the Bentayga offers an optional off-road package, unlike the GLS 600. And MT reports the Bentley SUV rides better than some AMG SUVs while offering similar levels of sportiness.
But then, if outright performance is the goal, the $114,500 2021 Audi RS Q8 is a real bargain. True, some of the GLS 600’s standard luxury features, such as massaging front seats and heated rear seats, are optional on the RS Q8.
However, it has a detuned version of the Lamborghini Urus’ engine, a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 rated at 591 hp and 590 lb-ft. MT estimates that thanks to AWD, it can go 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. And like the XB7, it has rear-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars and rear differential, and air suspension. As a result, it’s the fastest SUV to lap the Nürburgring, Road & Track reports.
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