Mercedes-Benz G-Class

The standard G550 is powered by a 416-horsepower, 4.0L turbocharged V8. The high-performance AMG G63 is powered by a twin-turbo 5.5L V8 that makes 563 horsepower, making the big off-roader almost unnaturally quick. The AMG G65 is powered by a 6.0L twin-turbo V12 that produces 621 horsepower and 738 lb-feet of torque. All three engine options are mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission.

Thanks to a serious mechanical 4-wheel-drive system, complemented by modern electronics, the G-Class has the goods for serious off-roading as well as simply taking on slippery road conditions. The system comes with three differential locks to distribute power in whatever way is best for the conditions. On- or off-road, traction is aided by the electronic stability control system, which also helps distribute power left to right.

The G-Class is a truck-like SUV in look and feel, yet its interior is appointed with top-notch luxury materials, including premium leather, burl walnut trim and wood and leather trim elsewhere.

Inside, the G-Class provides a very upright driving position that is different from that of any other vehicle from the brand's lineup. The rear seats even have enough room for adults, but they're not as easily reconfigurable for cargo when compared to most modern SUVs. Also, the back door is hinged on the side rather than the top.

All G-Class models includes HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear fog lamps, 12-way adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, dynamic cruise control and dual-zone climate control. Mercedes' COMAND touchscreen audio control system is included as well.

Safety features include mbrace2 emergency SOS that will automatically call for help in the event of an accident, blind-spot sensors, a back-up camera and a full suite of airbags for all occupants.

Options include adjustable suspension, a rear-seat entertainment system and a heated steering wheel.

Editors' Review

Do you enjoy antique military hardware? Do you enjoy driving around and having the general population wonder if you're a celebrity of some kind? Do you enjoy knowing that, in the event of Armageddon, you could reliably escape to just about any remote corner of your country without having to change cars? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then the 2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 is absolutely up your alley. If you only answered yes to some of those questions, then hell, this is probably the SUV for you, too.

Leather-lined rectilinearity

Aesthetics are likely a big factor in a buyer's decision to purchase a Mercedes G-Class and you can't really blame anyone there. The Geländewagen is certifiably badass, especially my tester, which is kitted out with matte black paint ($3,950), 20-inch black wheels ($300) and a Night Package that eliminates all instances of chrome from the window trim to the front bumper bar ($1,900). Throw in a near-complete lack of curvature and I'm staring down one of the most menacing vehicles on the road. It demands attention at all times. There's no subtlety here. Even the daytime running lights are instantly recognizable.

Before I talk about the interior, there's something that happens on the transition from outside to inside that is, for some reason, incredibly satisfying. I'm talking about operating the doors. They produce an incredibly satisfying click when you throw them shut (which you have to) and both locking and unlocking creates an even louder and somehow more pleasing sound. It's one piece of theater that I'm glad survived the move to a new generation, of which there weren't very many. The side-hinged cargo door does the same thing, but with that tire mounted on the back of it, it's a slightly cumbersome affair, so I'm less likely just to open and close that one just for funsies.

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The Good ~ Looks menacing as hell ~ Better to drive than before ~ Can tackle nearly every terrain

The Bad ~ Limited cargo capacity ~ Old infotainment ~ Most will never see a mountain

The Bottom Line The G550 lets you have your cake, eat it and then drive across the wilderness for seconds.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 9
  • Features 9.5
  • Design 9
  • Media 8

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