High Performance SUVsIn the face of rising gas prices and government mandates, automakers have been making vehicles lighter, engines more efficient and exteriors much more aerodynamic in order to eke out every last little MPG.
But these vehicles do not fit that mold.
They are high performance SUVs. Big, heavy vehicles that house gigantic engines, guzzle fuel and boast power numbers often seen on supercars. There's no good reason these cars exist, given their exorbitant sticker prices and teeny-tiny fuel economy numbers. But we're sure glad they do. They're simply way too much fun.
We've compiled a list of a few of our favorite performance SUVs. Click through to check out these family haulers that can also tear up a track.2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG.
BMW X6 M
Sticker Price: $92,000
Fuel Economy: 12 mpg city, 17 mpg highway
Big, burly and expensive, the BMW X6 M is also one of the most powerful SUVs out there. Its 4.4L twin-turbo V8 engine produces a beastly 555 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. Although it's a heavy car and its center of gravity feels a little too high, pressing the gas pedal unleashes an unholy roar and acceleration that pushes your eyes back in your head. This brute is seriously fast and way fun to drive, but starting at almost $93,000, it costs a pretty penny to get behind the wheel.
Sticker Price: $116,925
Fuel Economy: 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway
The Mercedes-Benz GL63 doesn't look like a fast car (unless you know what the AMG letters on the back mean). In fact, you'd likely be mistaken for a suburban parent taking his or her kids to piano lessons. But any hotshot foolish enough to try to beat you off the starting line will look pretty silly after getting torched by the GL63's 550-horsepower, 5.5L twin-turbo V8 engine.
Research the Mercedes-Benz GL63
SRT Grand Cherokee
Sticker Price: $60,295
Fuel Economy: 12 mpg city, 18 mpg highway
The fact that The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT exists makes us very happy. We already love the Grand Cherokee for its off-road ability, sharp looks and great interior, but adding in the gigantic 470-horsepower 6.4L V8 engine takes it to another level. We've had a chance to tackle the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca in this vehicle, where it performed remarkably well. Considering what SRT has done with the beastly new Viper, we really shouldn't have been all that surprised.
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Ford Explorer Sport
Sticker Price: $40,780
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
It doesn't have quite as much power as the other vehicles on the list, but the Ford Explorer Sport is still a mean machine on the road. Its 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine produces 365 horsepower and its sport-tuned suspension makes it surprisingly agile. Additionally, the Explorer Sport can seat 7 people and gets 22 mpg on the highway, making it a rather practical SUV buy, too.
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Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Sticker Price: $108,750
Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
Although the enthusiasts weren't happy when Porsche came out with an SUV, there's no denying that the Cayenne has been a rousing success. Powerful and fun to drive even in its base trim, the Cayenne Turbo kicks it up several notches with the inclusion of a 500-horsepower, 4.8L twin-turbo V8 engine. Its legendary Porsche-tuned handling and plush interior make it the total performance SUV package. If you are looking for fuel economy in this segment (which is tough), try the Cayenne diesel, which is still sporty as heck and gets 29 mpg on the highway.