2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class: First drive review
Germany's oldest, biggest, thirstiest, most rugged people-mover
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class continues to ride its 33-year-old architecture but gains other updates for 2013, including a more powerful engine for the G63 AMG and an updated interior.
Take a Jeep Wrangler. Add a high-quality, hand-crafted interior, offer buyers the choice of two ridiculously powerful V8 engines, and charge at least $100,000 for it. Would it be cool? In an ironic kind of way, yes, it would. But would it be a value for the customer? Not even close.
This scenario is basically what you get with the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Originally designed in 1979, the G has never been redesigned. That means it's a 33-year-old vehicle with modern interior amenities and powertrains. For 2013, Mercedes updates the interior and power yet again, making this specialty vehicle faster and nicer inside, but no more of a bargain.
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The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is offered in only two models, the G550 and G63 AMG. Mercedes says the sales mix is typically 65 to 70 percent AMG models. Pricing is not yet available, but the G550 will likely be close to $110,000 and the G63 AMG will cost more than $120,000. With those prices, both models are predictably well equipped. The G550 comes with features such as leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, sunroof, stainless steel running boards, Harmon Kardon stereo, navigation system with 40-gigabyte hard drive, Bluetooth connectivity, bi-xenon headlights, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The G63 AMG adds Nappa leather upholstery, pneumatic multicontour front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, 20-inch alloy wheels, and unique AMG trim inside and out.
The G-Class has all the usual safety features except front side airbags. It does, however, come with a bevy of other safety features, including active front head restraints, rear park assist, hill-start assist, blind-spot assist, rearview camera, and adaptive cruise control.
Under the Hood
The 2013 G-Class uses one carryover engine and one new engine. The G550's 5.5-liter V8 carries over. It produces 388 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. The G63 AMG gets a new twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that cranks out 544 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Fuel-economy ratings aren't yet available, but they will certainly be bad for the G550 and worse for the G63 AMG.
The G-Class has one of the most advanced four-wheel-drive systems on the market. It is a full-time system with low-range gearing and front, center and rear locking differentials.
Designed in the late 1970s, the G-Class is a blast from the past, without the benefit of the automotive design advances made since then. One of those issues is width; the G550 is 71.2 inches wide, which is awfully skinny compared to today's SUVs. The driver can touch the passenger door pretty easily and the driver's door is so close that a driver can hit his left elbow on the door when making turns. That width issue makes the rear seat far more hospitable for two than three, and the rear cargo area is smaller than the norm. Thanks to a tall roof, it still has 45.2 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and 79.5 cubic feet with them down, but unless you want to stack stuff, this space won't be nearly as useful as the 83.2 cubic feet in the 80-inch-wide Ford Flex. The tailgate opens like a door instead of a liftgate, and it has an awfully skinny opening. The cargo area is finished out nicely, though.
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I wouldn't call it's 4wd system "advanced". While certainly capable, it's decidedly old school. Also, I'm betting that 99% of buyers (well at least US buyers) have no idea what a "locking diff" is, or why they would need one or when to use it.
I think these are some of the worst vehicles on the road, it's beyond me one someone would pay 100k+ for one, yet I see them on a pretty regualr basis. Just goes to show that money can't buy taste.
Unless you need a very capable offroad, there is NO reason to buy one, other than showing off. Whenever I see ojne, I automatically think "D-Bag".And a true offroader wouldn't buy one of these anyway, as a more stripped down, diesel powered model would be much more suitable to that.
And IIRC, the Land Rover D90 has three locking diffs. The Wrangler Rubicon has locking diffs in both axles (2), and does not need a locking center diff as it's a part time sytem and is always "locked" when 4wd is in use. Chances are both the D90 and REubi are more capable than the G.
I have to comment about the reviewer saying the g class was narrow. Well if you have ever gone for a walk in the woods you might have noticed that most trails are narrow. A wide body defeats some of the vehicle's usefulness. Yes it is way over priced BUT functional. For the person with everything not, Joe the plumber.