Four 2011 500-HP Luxury SUVs: Performance Comes With A Price

March 12, 2011

For the well-heeled families – or those who aspire to be – FamilyCarGuide presents a fierce foursome of 500-horsepower luxury SUVs capable of doing just about whatever you want. The only downsides are possibly two: stratospheric purchase price and low fuel economy. But if performance in a top-dog SUV is what you’re after, these four will definitely fill the bill. Take a look.

2011 BMW X5 M

With a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $85,700, the 2011 BMW X5 M is the bargain of this group of four 500-horsepower luxury SUVs. It’s also the baddest of them all, boasting a 555-horsepower twin turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 paired with six-speed M sports automatic transmission with paddle shifters and adaptive drive with M-specific electronic damping control that does zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Check it out. That’s better than most of BMW’s performance sedans do. M-Dynamic performance control, M-sport suspension with self-leveling rear air suspension and a whole lot more add up to one very capable luxury SUV. Another plus is the M-tuned xDrive all-wheel drive system and hill descent control for venturing wherever you want to go. Inside, there’s room for five in ultra-comfortable M sport seats. Need space to haul the kids and stuff – yours or theirs? There’s plenty available: 21.9 cubic feet with all the seats up and 61.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 18 mpg highway.

Be sure to see Nelson Ireson’s review of the 2011 BMW X5 M in TheCarConnection.

2011 Land Rover Range Rover SC

Like the idea of a performance-oriented, go-anywhere luxury SUV? Then you definitely want to get behind the wheel of the 2011 Land Rover Range Rover SC (supercharged). And it will cost you just $95,465 to start out. Outside of its impressive British credentials and heritage, there’s the 510-horsepower supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 to get your heart pumping. And crawling over hidden rocks and off-the-beaten path terrain is a breeze due to Range Rover SC’s low-range gearbox and air suspension. But you can haul a lot of gear as well with 35.1 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seats. EPA-estimated fuel economy of 18 mpg highway is not bad either.

2011 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG

Any Mercedes-Benz AMG is bound to cost a pretty penny, and the 2011 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG is right up there with them. Starting MSRP for this five-passenger beauty is $92,590. But look what you get for that. How about a 503-horsepower 6.3-liter V-8 engine mated with seven-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. This luxury performance SUV lives up to its AMG heritage with zero to 60 mph in less than 5.0 seconds. All-wheel drive and AMG sport suspension are standard, along with a slew of other safety, performance and technology features. Cargo capacity is up to 72.4 cubic feet with second-row seats folded down. Okay, so fuel economy isn’t the greatest – averaging about 15 mpg highway. But you don’t buy this luxury SUV for how fuel-frugal it is.

2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The most expensive of this quartet, the 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo has been described by some as a “911 on steroids.” We tend to agree, but also think the brand’s performance SUV deserves consideration as a top-performing luxury SUV. Yes, it just makes the cut for our horsepower bogey with its 500-hp turbocharged V-8 engine paired with eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy isn’t bad, considering, at EPA-estimated 22 mpg highway. With active all-wheel drive, hill-hold and shift on the move capability, you can explore off-road in style. Its 23.7 cubic feet of cargo volume can carry up to six suitcases (depending on size). Fold the rear seats down and there’s up to 62.9 cubic feet of space. What the 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo will set you back, though, is a whopping $106,000 base purchase price. But think of it this way. How many of these high-performance haulers are parked in your neighborhood?

For more information on the 2011 Porsche Cayenne, see this review in TheCarConnection.

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