The Karlmann King is the most expensive SUV on the planet. It is the off-road vehicle for the guy who has quite literally everything else. You’ll look into one of these bad boys after you’ve got the house paid off, put the kids through school, retired the debt on the wife’s breast augmentation and donated to every deserving cause that came asking. Once you’ve inked the title on this puppy, you’ve entered a whole new world.

Karlmann King Details

Only 12 of these vehicles will be made, and Ballistic recently got inside of one at the New York Auto Show. It should be easy to find in a crowded Walmart parking lot. Around 1,800 different people contributed to the F117-stealth-fighter-inspired design. Each vehicle is unique and reflects the personality of the high-net-worth individual who commissions it. Crafted in Italy for discriminating owners worldwide, the Karlmann King is the very top of the automotive heap. At least on paper, anyway.

What would you do if you suddenly had $2.2 million? That amount would make a superb retirement nest egg. Most of us toil a lifetime to accumulate markedly less than half that. With $2.2 million, you could buy a modest high-mileage private jet or a private island in some of the chillier parts of the world. And $2.2 million will also get you a base model Karlmann King SUV.

Royal Price Tag, Royal Features

The exterior exudes a rugged angular manliness. Carbon-fiber construction over a steel Ford F-550 frame offers superb strength while allowing the vehicle to be crafted as an object d’art. The sundry facets built into the exterior chassis attract attention as efficiently as they might otherwise refract radar waves. Batman would probably give up the Batmobile in favor of this beast.

The interior is otherworldly. You can obviously have the details built to your own particular specifications. Depending upon the lighting and trim, the end result channels Star Wars, The Terminator or Tron. Every imaginable luxurious addendum has been incorporated into this living space. The interior looks like it was stripped from the F-22 Raptor, while the instrumentation and electronics suite is likely classified by some intelligence agency. Owning the Karlmann King probably puts you on some kind of watch list.

An app allows you to control the LED-based interior lighting, two air condition systems at the front and rear, and the seat adjustments. It also manages the built-in coffeemaker, the electronic table and the organic SOS emergency beacon. The app will raise the 4K TV for viewing while simultaneously managing the refrigerator as well. More entertainment features include a high-end sound system, a Sony PS4, a central handrail screen display and a phone projection system. Satellite TV and phone services are available as options. There is also a built-in safe for storing valuables as well as an onboard air purifier.


In its low-end configuration, the Karlmann King weighs a whopping 9,900 pounds. That number goes up to 13,200 pounds if you opt for the ballistic protection options. To put that in perspective, the British Scorpion reconnaissance tank displaces some 17,800 pounds and sports a 76mm cannon in a powered turret.

The addition of bullet-resistant protection could potentially make your Karlmann King an armored vehicle subject to strict American import controls. However, if you are seriously considering buying a $2.2 million SUV, you likely already have a senator or three on the payroll. Give them a shout and they can probably get you an exemption to the import restrictions.

The Karlmann King will seat between four and seven people depending upon the configuration. The vehicle is nearly 20 feet long and has a 12-foot wheelbase. It is more than 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide. This is one seriously massive luxury SUV.

The gasoline-fueled V10 engine displaces 6.8 liters. The fuel tank carries 40 gallons on board. The vehicle sports a solid-axle air suspension system for a luxurious ride even over uneven terrain. The 4×4 transmission is designed to maximize power output from that big V10, and four ventilated disc brakes keep things under control. The Karlmann King also includes hydraulic power steering and an electronic accelerator system. The maximum rated speed for this enormous off-road luxury SUV is 87 miles per hour.

Practically Speaking

The Karlmann King is the ultimate luxury bugout vehicle. Some, like those car wonks at, dubbed the Karlmann King “the stupidest and worst car of the show.” That said, if you want to weather the coming zombie apocalypse (and have several money trees in your backyard growing overtime) in total comfort while sipping some appropriately aged and chilled Dom Pérignon, this is the ride for you. Its sporting capabilities remain in the same league with its rarefied level of luxury.

Exotic supercars are in many ways like supermodels. They are undeniably pleasant to gaze upon. However, they are maintenance intensive, finicky and tough to control. Your typical Lamborghini, Ferrari or Bugatti is really at its best just sitting still. It is a statement of potential more than anything else. Just glancing at the thing on the curb, you can tell it will go stupid fast. You really don’t have to see it run to be convinced. Also, when it is not moving, the risk of damaging it is greatly reduced.

By contrast, the Karlmann King is a rather more practical extravagance. The stealth- inspired architecture looks both rugged and agile even when it’s parked. The massive knobby tires, robust powerplant and military- grade running gear will take you places to which lesser luxury vehicles might only aspire.

Cocooning oneself within the Karlmann King is like entering a starship. The personality and apportionments of the vehicle reflect the very finest mankind can produce. Simultaneously powerful and refined, this is indeed the vehicle for the sophisticated driver with cash aplenty. To own one of these trucks is to both possess transportation and make a statement while wielding power under control.

A Cut Above

Do I own one of these vehicles? No way. Do you have any idea what gun writers make these days? I couldn’t afford the gas cap. I’d have to take out a second mortgage just to change the oil.

If I could afford to have one of these remarkable vehicles, I’d be too afraid of scratching it to take it out of the garage. However, therein lies my problem. I’m thinking like a normal person. Normal people don’t own vehicles like this. The sort of person who picks up a custom Karlmann King SUV owns vast tracts of oil-rich desert, is the despotic ruler of a modest nation state or sports a name like Trump, Soros or Kardashian. The kind of guy who picks up his kids at school in a Karlmann King likely either owns a fleet of speedboats and lives deep in the Colombian jungles or holds the deed to a Texas ranch that is visible from the International Space Station.

People like that don’t have to fret over scratching their crazy-expensive super vehicles. They have people on staff to take care of such menial stuff as this. They light their rare imported cigars with flaming $100 bills and never, ever have to take their shoes off when they board an airplane.

This vehicle will make you master of anything you might encounter on a road. If you can bring yourself to take it into the boonies, this super truck climbs like a Hummer but rides like the Concorde. With an armored version, you’ll be ready when your day gets extra sucky. There are indeed a lot of things $2.2 million will buy these days. In the Karlmann King, we find the SUV for the ridiculously wealthy individual of distinction. For more, visit

This article is from the June/July 2019 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Grab physical and digital copies at

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