The G63 and its lesser-powered sibling, the G550, have neither the room nor the utility nor the efficiency nor the refinement nor the modernity of their GL-class siblings, but they have several things that the GL-class doesn't have, including character, provenance, and three locking differentials. If you've got the dough and the desire, I say, indulge yourself, but you might also want something a little more anodyne in your garage for driving excursions that require a bit more subtlety.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
It goes without saying that the G63 AMG is absurd and ridiculous. I fully respect the audacity of taking performance parts and leather trimmings from the best Mercedes-Benz cars and fitting them into a vehicle which has so much in common with a Jeep Wrangler. I can respect all the reasons why people love this thing: fantastic visibility, a lovely interior, great presence in traffic, and a giraffe-like driving position that allows you to look down on Ford Expedition drivers. Yet despite my grudging admiration, I cannot endorse the G63 AMG as a sensible vehicle.
Yes, you have three locking differentials, low-range, and eight inches of ground clearance, but you can't go off-roading with shiny, expensive, and vulnerable 20-inch wheels. Yes, the 544-hp engine makes for ferocious acceleration and a trumpeting exhaust note, but the wandering, tramlining, vague steering saps confidence to drive quickly. Yes, the interior is resplendent in wood, chrome, and leather, but it's neither as glamorous nor as cosseting as the GL-Class. And how gauche does it look to drive a $137,505 SUV that gets abysmal mileage (our car's trip computer reported 10.2 mpg) in an era of austerity, recession, and climate change?
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
It's ridiculous and, in many practical respects, not very good. It's also completely unnecessary. No one needs this much off-road capability, this much power, and this much luxury. That's the point, of course. The G-Wagen's swagger, muscle, and Teutonic toughness lend credibility to far more pedestrian models like the GLK-class. This halo effect will only grow more important as the brand looks to expand into cheaper models like the upcoming GLA.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor