The G class is possibly one of the most recognizable of Mercedes' offering. Combining luxury and off road capability like few other vehicles can, the military based G class has been around since the 1970's and is still going strong today. It has been updated many times over the years, but the overall look and construction remain the same. While many of its sales are due to its hummer with luxury accoutrements, it remains an extremely capable off road vehicle. It's neither practical nor a good value, yet people who can add them to their stable still love them.
The G class is offered in two trim levels. The G550 with a 382 HP 5.5 liter V-8 routing its power through a seven speed automatic transmission. The four wheel drive is of the full time variety with lockable front, center, and rear differentials. The G55 AMG shares the same 4 wheel drive system, but offers a supercharged 5.4 liter V8 good for 500 HP and a 5 speed automatic transmission to get power to the ground. With a 6 figure starting price and over 3 tons of weight, the G series is certainly not the most practical vehicle on the road.
Body styles: SUV
Engines: 5.4L V-8, 5.5L V-8
Transmissions: 7-speed automatic, 5-speed automatic
Models: G550, G55 AMG
"New" isn't a word that applies to the G-Class, and there aren't many changes for the 2011 model year. The G550 gets a new 18-inch, five-spoke wheel design with split spokes. All 2010 changes also carry over: new 19-inch wheels for the G55 AMG, interior chrome accents, new power front seats, leather dash, and restyled spare wheel cover.
The handbuilt G-Class is a five-passenger box. It reflects a traditional design that is now fairly rare. There is only one body style -- four-door hardtop. Through the years, there have been two-door models and soft tops.
Despite its rugged foundation, the G-Class cabin has been given the luxury treatment --burl walnut trim and leather, power sunroof, heated front and rear seats, and dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, and surround-sound audio.
Performance & Handling
The 500-horsepower AMG model is significantly quicker to 60 than its normally aspirated G550 kin, but when it comes to curvy roads, the G-Class handles like a tall, heavy military vehicle. Where it shines is off-road, where a rigid structure, three locking diffs, and two-speed transfer case can get you almost anywhere -- as long as your G-wagen doesn't have the chrome side steps, which can get in the way on rocks.
Driver and passenger front airbags are standard on the G-Class, as are front and rear head curtain bags. Traction control, stability control, tire-pressure monitoring, and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake assist are standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
G550, G55 AMG: 11 mpg city/15 mpg highway
- Awesome off-road capability
- Modern classic you can buy new
- Military strength, luxury cabin
You Won't Like
- Bricklike aerodynamics
- Old-school handling
- No third row
Classic luxury off-roader
If You Like This Vehicle
- Land Rover LR4
- Lexus LX 570