It's that time of year again, and naturally, we have the requisite holiday-themed posts. Many of them elicit their share of groans and rolled eyes, from yours truly included. But we thought we'd have at least a little fun with this one. Listed below are our five naughtiest and five nicest trucks and SUVs. There will be some overlap, as the criteria for naughty and nice are not exactly the same.
"Naughty" Criteria: Fastest Acceleration, Most Aggressive Styling, or other traits that could be perceived as anti-social by the Prius-driving enlightened elites.
"Nice" Criteria: By highest manufacturer's suggested retail price, most lavish accommodations, or highest fuel economy.
In the broader definition of "naughty" and "nice" these definitions make sense, but instead of splitting hairs any longer, here are our naughty and nice list picks:
Naughty: BMW X6 M
Why is the X6 M on our naughty list? Quite simply, because nobody "needs" a 555-hp four-passenger SUV that costs $94,825. We would have picked the X5 M, since it makes marginally more sense than its fastback sibling, but the model has been discontinued for 2014, leaving only the hottest version of BMW's "sport activity coupe." It's fuel economy ratings of 13 city and 17 highway don't help much to tip the scales in the "nice" direction, either.
Naughty: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
The Raptor may not be the fastest, most powerful, or most expensive truck on the market, but it's definitely one of the most head-turning, getting as much attention in New York’s midtown Manhattan as Manhattan, Kansas. The bold styling transforms the F-150 from an everyday hauler to an attitude-packed beast, and the aftermarket has come up with plenty of personalization and performance options to raise the bar even further. The best part is all this fun is attainable for a relatively reasonable $45,610, assuming you can find one that doesn't have a $15,000 dealer markup.
Nice: Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
The VM Motori 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel makes an encore appearance on the Nice list for its application in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. In two-wheel-drive form, the Jeep gets 30 mpg highway with the engine, a laudable accomplishment in an SUV weighing more than 5000 pounds. On a cross-country road trip, we saw a highway figure of greater than 30 mpg on several legs. But in addition to being notably frugal for an SUV, in Summit trim, the Grand Cherokee approaches the luxury level of models costing tens of thousands more from "status" brands.
Naughty: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
If you crave Cayenne-level performance, but can't justify paying six figures, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT gives you 90 percent of the performance of the Porsche for less than half the price. Even fully equipped, the Grand SRT barely crests $70,000. While that's a lot of scratch for a Jeep, and actually makes it the second-most expensive vehicle in Chrysler's corporate portfolio after the Viper, the take-no-prisoners performance of the 470-hp Hemi V-8 and the ample comfort and convenience features don't make you feel sore after writing the check for it.
Nice: Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography
The Range Rover may conjure up images of Her Majesty touring her country estate or, for us more gauche colonists, the Kardashians driving to yet another one of their insipid wastes of reality video footage, but there's no denying the luxury and presence of a Range Rover. That bar has been set even higher for 2014 with the ultra-limited edition Range Rover Autobiography long-wheelbase. The non-Autobiography LWB model starts at "just" $106,195, with the most-exclusive limited edition Autobiography Black with (ironically) Valloire White paint going for just a whiff under $200,000 at $199,500.
Naughty: Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6
Where else would you put a 9000-pound, six-wheel-drive Mercedes SUV with a fording depth of more than 3-feet and a $500,000+ price tag? Sure, with an estimated 0-60 time of 8 seconds, it's not going to set any speed or acceleration records. But with this much bulk and attitude, you can run right over those records. Unfortunately, this six-wheeled beast isn't certified for U.S. roads, but if you live in Dubai or Dusseldorf, this is the ultimate expression of off-road swagger.
Nice: Mercedes-Benz GL 350 Bluetec
Once more, a diesel SUV makes our Nice list for its sumptuous appointments as well as its impressive fuel economy. Although the GL350 Bluetec hypothetically starts at $63,305, our tester had more than $25,000 in options on it, bringing the total to $88,615. Nice indeed. Its 19 city, 26 highway EPA rating, combined with a 26.4-gallon tank make for a long-legged cruising range of 686 miles or from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back on one tank, with more than 100 miles to spare.
Naughty: Porsche Cayenne S Turbo
There's plenty "nice" about a Porsche Cayenne, but when you're talking about the Turbo S model, you're definitely taking a ride on the naughty side. With 550 hp, a 0-60 time of just 4.3 seconds, and a top speed of 175 mph, this Cayenne lives up to the performance promised by its spicy name. For that level of power and performance in an SUV, the fuel economy figures of 14 city and 20 highway aren't all that bad. But if you want the privilege of parking a Turbo S in your garage, be prepared to pay up, big-time. The starting price on the Cayenne Turbo S is $146,995. We were able to configure one up to $180,000 without much effort.
Nice: Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn EcoDiesel
The Laramie Longhorn EcoDiesel landed on the "nice" list for two reasons, because it's shockingly lavish for a 1/2-ton truck and for having the best fuel economy in its class. The tester at our Truck of the Year competition topped $60,000, but got 28 mpg highway in our own scientific fuel economy testing. So if you feel any residual guilt for the self-indulgence on getting the Laramie Longhorn package, rest easy knowing Mother Earth appreciates your (relatively) modest carbon footprint.
Nice: Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn 4x4
It may seem odd that an 8000-pound, $71,000 dually truck is on our Nice list, but with its leather-trimmed interior, and seemingly bottomless reserves of torque from its 850-lb-ft Cummins diesel engine, this big Ram is definitely nice. If you need to tow or haul anything bigger than this truck can handle, you'll need a commercial driver's license, and a Class 7 or 8 truck. Other than maybe being tricky to park in a tight lot, there aren't many downsides to this truck, assuming you can afford it.