• Revised exterior features minor updates
  • SUV's cabin fully redesigned for first time since its 2002 debut
  • High-performance G63 AMG produces 544 horsepower

Although Mercedes' rugged G-Class appeals to only a small sliver of car shoppers and typically accounts for less than a thousand sales annually, the automaker recently announced a host of changes intended to modernize the large SUV for the 2013 model year. In addition to updates inside and out, the 2013 G-Class will arrive in dealerships this summer with an all-new high-performance model in its lineup.

Outside the 2013 G-Class has been revised to reflect current Mercedes design elements. While the G-Class's traditional boxy shape has been retained, the 2013 model gets LED running lights below its unique circular headlights, new wheels with a more modern appearance and updated mirrors that mimic the design used in other Mercedes models.

The G-Class receives an even more thorough update inside, which has been largely unchanged since the SUV's U.S. debut in 2002. While several unique features - including an upright dashboard and oddball parking brake lever - remain, G-Class owners will immediately recognize a wide array of updates that include a redesigned center console, smaller shift lever, relocated navigation screen and a new steering wheel and gauge cluster. Mercedes also says several new options are available for 2013, including radar-based cruise control, a blind spot detection system and parking sensors designed to aid drivers during low-speed maneuvers.

While the G-Class will still be offered in G550 guise with a 382-horsepower V8 engine, buyers looking for a little extra oomph will be pleased to learn that Mercedes is also updating the G-Class's AMG range for 2013. While the supercharged G55 AMG (which was discontinued last year) was certainly no slouch, there's an all-new G63 AMG version for the new model year. Like other "63" models from AMG, power comes from a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8, which delivers a monstrous 544 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque.

Left to speculate on performance figures pending an official announcement from Mercedes, we think the new G63 AMG could go from 0-60 mph in about 5 seconds flat - an amazing feat considering it weighs nearly three tons. And while Mercedes is also developing an even more powerful G65 AMG with a 612-horsepower twin-turbocharged V12, the automaker says that model will only be offered in Europe.

Although Mercedes has yet to announce pricing for its updated G-Class, we expect the base-level G550 to start around $108,000 when it goes on sale in August, with the G63 AMG priced closer to $130,000.

What it means to you: While only about 1,000 people bought a new Mercedes G-Class last year, updates for 2013 may broaden the luxury SUV's appeal a bit.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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