SUVs

Oh, glorious day: Mercedes will bring the G550 4x4^2 to the US, after all

The portal-axle ute you never knew you wanted will arrive on our shores by early 2017.

Mercedes-Benz

The G550 4x4² is nearly a foot wider than the standard G550.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz's G-Class, otherwise known as the Geländewagen (German for "cross-country vehicle"), is a true workhorse. It's been on sale since 1979, and honestly, it hasn't changed all that much in that time. It's a very capable old brute, but there's an even more proficient Leviathan, and it will arrive in the US by early next year.

The G550 4x42 (it reads as "four-by-four squared") isn't your average Geländewagen, and much of it is thanks to one unique addition -- portal axles. A vehicle equipped with portal axles can tuck the axle tubes and differentials much higher up, which aids ground clearance. Gear reduction at the wheel hub means the differential can be smaller, too.

As a result, the G550 4x42 features some damn impressive off-road figures. It has a 17.2-inch ground clearance and its maximum factory fording depth is 39.4 inches. Its approach angle is 51.6 degrees, departure is 47.4 and its breakover angle is 47.4 degrees. Those last three figures are each about 20 degrees higher than on a standard G550. Its ground clearance is nearly double, and fording depth is more than a foot higher, as well.

Powered by a 4.0-liter V-8, putting out 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet, it has the same output figures as the standard G550. It isn't the first Geländewagen to feature portal axles -- that honor belongs to the AMG 6x6, a triple-axle monstrosity of engineering that would make Dr. Moreau proud.