A performance SUV is tantamount to a chainsaw with jet propulsion. There’s really no need for it, but to dismiss it is to deny man’s inherent quest for power, in whatever form it may come. Thirteen years ago, the Mercedes Benz ML55 AMG was the first on the scene, and it was viewed as obnoxious, heavy, purposeless and, at the same time, magnificent and utterly desirable. Sticking a heaving, snorting V8 under the hood of a 5,000+ pound four-wheel-drive behemoth was nothing short of genius, as it really birthed the modern performance SUV, and automakers will never look back — even when the price of oil climbs.
Thankfully, the performance SUV has improved markedly over the years: these beasts now sport better driving dynamics, better designs, and even more luscious power. These blistering behemoths now provide the automotive landscape a solid amount of passenger and cargo room, the confidence of All-Wheel-Drive/Four-Wheel-Drive, beefed-up suspension components, monstrous engine outputs, and aesthetics befitting sports sedans.
Of course, if you care a lick about gas mileage, you’re barking up the wrong tree, but if you happen to want it all (sans gull-wing doors), then in the right place. We had a chance to cruise around in some of the best four-wheeled tarmac eaters that also happen to ride on stilts in celebration of our new series, Octane. Here’s our report. Which one you choose is entirely up to you and your fat wallet.
Additional contribution by Bradley Hasemeyer.