2020 Mercedes G-Class Off-Road Test Drive. There’s an all-new Mercedes-Benz G-Class for 2019, available as a G550 and an AMG G63, the latter a substantially more powerful model that we cover elsewhere. While the rugged new 2019 G550 retains a boxy profile and looks much the same as before, Mercedes says only three parts are carryover: the door handles, spare-tire cover and headlight washers. More significant, this go-anywhere Mercedes SUV, still built in Graz, Austria, has a stronger and all-new body-on-frame chassis with independent front suspension replacing the former G’s live front axle. Three locking differentials (center, rear, front) ensure that the new G can still tackle legitimately tough terrain. Moreover, the new G550 has lost about 375 pounds, thanks to revised materials and a lighter body. Much of the new body is steel, but the fenders, hood and doors are aluminum. Varied competitors include the Land Rover Range Rover, the Jeep Wrangler, the Lexus LX 570 and the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Everything. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is all-new from the chassis up, with a strengthened frame and independent front suspension. The G550 is powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with 416 horsepower. One transmission is available, a 9-speed automatic.
Luxury has been heightened considerably in the 2019 G550, thanks largely to the use of top-quality leather and attractive wood veneers. We’re glad Mercedes retained the prominent grab bar for the front passenger, and we also like how the traditional instruments have been replaced by an attractive and easy-to-read digital screen. The dashboard, with four prominent circular air vents, also features a push-button starter and an integral analog clock, this last item adding a touch of traditional ambience. The new G550 is 2.8 inches longer and rides on a wheelbase also increased by 2.8 in. As a result, Mercedes has found nearly six inches more rear legroom than before, plus an extra 1.5 inches up front. There’s also 4.8 inches more shoulder room inside the new G. All this extra space is much appreciated, as is a new rear bench seat that folds and splits 60/40.
Mercedes has succeeded with the look of the new G550. This new Mercedes SUV remains as boxy and upright as ever, still military in appearance and not mistaken for any other vehicle. Items such as the flat glass, exposed door hinges and external spare tire add a back-to-basics feel, and even though the new G550 is a larger vehicle, it doesn’t look that much bigger. A high-mounted tubular grille guard, unique to the G550, adds to the rugged look.
Under the Hood
Under its aluminum hood, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 is powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that produces 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a 0-60-mph sprint of 5.6 seconds. Of note, the powerplant is a bit unusual in that its turbochargers are atop the engine, in the vee of the aluminum block as opposed to outside of it. One transmission is available, a 9-speed automatic that occasionally skips ratios for added efficiency during acceleration.
4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
416 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
450 lb-ft of torque @ 6,175 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550, which takes 100 hours to hand-assemble at the factory in Austria, has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $124,500, plus a destination charge of $995. Ordered with several options such as the Exclusive Interior Package, a G550 can touch $150,000. Take note: That exceeds the base price of the almighty 577-horsepower Mercedes-AMG G63, which starts at $147,500. Rest easy, though, because the desirability of a G-Class (and therefore its resale value) holds strong and steady over time. Before buying.
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