Pros: The ultimate SUV, combining power and off-road ability; above-it-all driving position elevates you in the air; tremendously practical, if you can stomach the fuel costs

Cons: Expensive to buy and expensive to own; big depreciation; heavy steering and archaic design; at 11 miles per gallon city, one of the biggest gas guzzlers available

What's new: The 2011 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG was unchanged in what would be its final model year. After not offering an AMG variant for 2012, the G-Class added the G63 AMG in 2013.

Overview:

The Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG is a high-performance variant of the brand's boxy G-Class SUV. The G-Class can trace its roots back to the 1970s, when it was commissioned by the German military. Since 2002, the G-Class has been available in the U.S. as a high-dollar luxury vehicle billed as the ultimate SUV.

The G55 AMG debuted for the 2003 model year with a 5.4-liter V8. That engine added a supercharger for 2005, producing a muscular 469 horsepower. By 2009, power had increased to 500 hp and torque stood at 516 lb-ft -- mind-boggling numbers considering the G-Class' box-on-wheels shape and its curb weight of nearly 6,000 pounds. Supercharged G55 AMG models boast 0-to-60 miles per hour times of around 5.3 seconds. All G55 AMG models use a 5-speed automatic and offer full-time 4-wheel drive.

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG started at a whopping $125,000, which placed it among the most expensive SUVs available. While the G55 AMG had no direct competition, rivals included the Range Rover Supercharged and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. After sitting out the 2012 model year, an AMG G-Class returned for 2013 in the form of a 544-hp G63 AMG with a turbocharged V8.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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