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Mercedes ML550: Faster and Better

The new 2008 ML550's new 5.5 liter V8 engine, great looks and lithe performance explain why this big SUV is still a big seller

One of the oddities of the car market is how well big SUVs are selling, despite the rise in gasoline prices. And among the hottest right now is one of the most expensive: the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Last year, U.S. sales of the M-Class rose 7.1% to 33,879—and then soared 37.7% to 3,237 in January.

Why is the M-Class selling so well? It certainly isn't because of its low price. The entry-level ML350 starts out at a hefty $44,825, rising to $53,575 for the speedier ML550. The price tops out at $87,825 for the superspeedy ML63 AMG. Add options, and the price soars.