SUVs

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class: The O.G., better than ever

It's every bit as capable as before, but now it's not as punishing to live with.

Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is one of the most immediately recognizable models on the road, and it's every bit as capable as its looks suggest. Trouble is, it's not exactly great to drive, and its tech is a bit lacking. The latest iteration of Geländewagen seeks to remedy that last bit.

At first glance, you might think that it looks the same as it did before. While its boxy good looks are still accounted for, there are some slight updates to the front and rear fascia. Part  of this car's appeal is its rolling-anachronism theme, so Mercedes was wise not to mess with success all that much. But while it might look the same, the body is actually 2.1 inches longer and 4.8 inches wider than before.

The most recognizable changes are on the inside. Whereas the previous-generation G-Class wasn't quite up to date in terms of creature comforts, the 2019 model is ready to party. Like other new Mercs, you can option the dashboard to pack dual 12.3-inch screens. Some traditional G-Class hallmarks remain, including the passenger grab handle and the three differential locks on the center stack. Both rows have standard heated seats, with massage and rapid-heating functions available as an option.

It looks properly rugged in this shade of brown.

Mercedes-Benz

If you thought the last G-Class was a little cramped, this update is for you. Just about every interior dimension has increased. Front legroom is up 1.5 inches and rear legroom extends by a whopping 5.9 inches. Shoulder and hip room improves for both rows of passengers by between 1 and 3 inches, too.  

To start, the G-Class will be available in just the G550 trim. The engine is a 4.0-liter V8 putting out 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. it comes mated to a new nine-speed automatic transmission. Expect AMG variants to arrive later on, likely at other auto shows throughout this year and 2019.

The previous model had awful recirculating-ball steering, but this new G-Class packs a vastly improved electromechanical rack-and-pinion setup. There's also a new front independent suspension, but the rear retains its old-school solid rear axle. 

Off-road enthusiasts will celebrate the continued existence of not one, not two, but three separate locking differentials. Approach and departure angles, ground clearance and max fording depth are all improved over the previous generation.

Speaking of off-roading, the G-Class packs a new "G-Mode." This mode automatically turns on when one of the differential locks engages. It changes the dampers, steering and throttle systems to work better in off-road situations.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class goes on sale later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to that date.