What has to be considered the granddaddy of the luxury SUV is the Mercedes G Class. It includes a look all its own and sets a standard for going off-road that puts the G-Wagon in a class by itself. On paper this new version will go anywhere, not only doing it in style but also surrounded in luxury and unimaginable comfort.
“The new G-Class is setting the bar higher still in all relevant areas – in terms of performance both on and off the road as well as with regard to comfort and telematics. Their ‘longest-serving’ model series is ideally equipped to continue its success story. In short, “the new ‘G’ is still a ‘G’, only better,” stressed Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
After a week in the new G-Wagon, we were totally impressed with how it handled off-road and even on a night out with friends. Our friends Patrick and Heidi Mooney wanted to go out in the Mercedes, no questions asked.
Our short 15-mile trip time to Payson for Indian food was taken up with them checking out the heated rear seats and commenting on how comfortable they were. When they found out the front seats offered even more options for comfort than the rear, after dinner, Deanne had to give up her front seat so they could each experience them.
Loaded with massaging seats that offer heat or cooling features and multiple different types of massages, was like having our own masseuse along for our short trip. They were also very intrigued with the ambient lighting throughout the vehicle after the sun had set. Being inside of the Mercedes is much like being in any other Mercedes, making it hard for us to imagine taking this vehicle over the slick rock of Moab.
We found that once we were inside, it was very hard to even think about taking the G Class off-road as it was so very comfortable. However, as we found it was loaded in a way that would have no trouble conquering even the hardest of trails in Moab or just in the canyons along the Wasatch Front.
Over the years the G-Class has become legend in the luxury market for its abilities, and the engineers have not taken their eyes off that ball this year. There is now a 9.5-inch ground clearance between the axels, along with a slope climbing ability of 100% on suitable surfaces. We didn’t quite understand how this would be possible, but needless to say we were confident that it would go up a very steep incline.
The G-Class will also ford a very deep stream including mud up to 27.6 inches; in our book that is a lot of water to be “fording.” We didn’t have the chance to take on a stream of that depth but it was great to know we could.
The engineers also have created a very stable vehicle that will stay that way even when tilted sideways up to 35 degrees. Again, a very steep incline, yet still stay on all four wheels. The approach angle is 31 degrees with a departure angle of 30 degrees, proving this SUV is made to get off-road and climb any terrain.
Being a Mercedes 550 that comes with a high-performance engine, who would expect anything less for the luxury auto maker? Under the hood resides a 4.0 liter V8 engine that produces 416 horsepower and a very nice 450 lb.-ft. of torque, tied to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The transmission is controlled by dedicated software which enables it to widen the shift points making driving quieter and much more comfortable, especially at low engine speeds. We noticed even when just driving around a parking garage how awesomely the transmission worked the gears. After a week of driving that included a couple of trips to Salt Lake City, we were right at the EPA average of 14 miles per gallon.
Along with some of the greatest seats we have ever encountered, the inside of the G-Wagon was really just work of art, with the engineers putting the new 12.3-inch infotainment front and center to control everything from navigation to lighting controls in the cockpit.
The 550 comes standard with a Burmester Surround Sound System with 15 speakers and 590 watt amplifier with Digital Sound Processing, which makes the already ultra-quite interior like unto a concert hall.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are, of course, now included in the package giving the younger generation all they need to keep up to date. Text by voice and all the other great functions come standard with this option.
Everything form the round headlamps to the spare tire still mounted on the rear tailgate add up to keep what has proven over the years to be a fantastic combination new again. Inject all the internal DNA that Mercedes-Benz has become known for in all their other vehicles and the new G-Wagon will prove to be a leader it the full-sized luxury SUV market.
Base price: $124,500
Price as driven: $134,315