Mercedes-Benz does something that most other brands don’t: they make a super-tuned version of almost every car they offer. Even their seven-passenger GL gets a hand-crafted AMG engine if you want to spring for it — and luckily for us, the 2013 G63 AMG ($134,300) is on the list as well. In fact, Mercedes planned to replace the Gelandewagen (G-Wagen) with the aforementioned GL, but a combination of public (enthusiast?) outcry and consistently strong sales convinced them otherwise. What they saved is the longest-running model produced by Benz, a relatively unchanged design that’s a testament to versatility and timeless style. For $135,000 one can not only look ultra tough in this military-inspired ride but drive like it as well. The humble 382 horsepower, 5.5 liter V8 from the “regular” G-Wagen goes bi-turbo in the AMG and jumps to 536 wild horses.
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The steering feel and responsiveness are a bit lacking (this is, after all, a performance version of gussied-up military vehicle), but those compromises on the freeway are also what make it a real off-road machine. With AWD setup, three locking differentials, eight inches of ground clearance and the same amount of wheel travel, this luxo-fridge can tackle a hill with a 36-degree incline and handle 24 degrees of sideways tilt. Confining this vehicle to paved roads would be a travesty. And sure, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG might be the antithesis of efficiency, but it’s also the poster child for invincibility, which is perhaps why almost half of the G-Wagons sold in the U.S. are of the AMG variety. We had to learn for ourselves, so we road tripped from NYC to the beautiful Catskill Mountains in upstate New York to find some peace and tranquility… and then destroy it with the guttural yells of the side-mounted exhaust pipes in our twin turbo V8 Mafia truck.