In the realm of luxury SUVs, it's pretty difficult to surpass the style and quality of the Mercedes M-Class. But even the style, technology, safety and performance in base models pale beside the mighty ML63 AMG.
A 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 with an impressive 550 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque provides power. 4Matic all-wheel drive is standard on the ML63, as is a seven-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy suffers, as one would expect with such a robust engine, and the AMG returns an EPA-estimated 13 mpg city and 17 mpg highway.
Driving the AMG is predictably pleasurable. There's no lack of power or torque, and the ML63 is swift off the line. Like many SUVs, it experiences some body roll when pushed through corners. But the ML63 handles winding roadways with tact and control.
Mercedes-Benz's COMAND interface is adaptable and intuitive, making it one of the more impressive user displays systems on the market. The controls are well-arranged and easy to use.
The ML63 AMG lacks a third row, which limits space to five passengers. As expected, the interior finishes are top-notch. With the rear seats folded, there is 71 cubic feet of cargo space.
Included on the options list are serious off-road upgrades like a two-speed transfer case and an adjustable suspension system, allowing the ML63 to tackle rugged terrain with ease -- though it would be a shame to mar such a vehicle with the blemishes of a backwoods trail.