Car Reviews SUV of the Year

Mercedes-Benz G-Class: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Capable off-road, but where's the charm?

Capable off-road, but where's the charm?

WE LIKE Dedication to design, off-road capability

WE DON’T LIKE Heavy-handed software, too-ritzy interior

Despite its age, the G-Class was loved by consumers and critics alike. It’s what makes the redesigned second-generation G-Class such a big deal for Mercedes.

At first glance, Mercedes absolutely stays true to the original’s spirit. It looks much like a slightly scaled-up G-Wagen, right down to its boxy design and callbacks such as its (pedestrian-friendlier) fender-mounted turn signals and shunk-shunk mechanical door locks.

Hop inside, and there’s no mistaking that this G-Class is a product of 2018. The now-roomier cabin is jarring in its ode to modernity when compared to the old-school cool the sheetmetal was selling. Up front are massive twin digital displays operated by touchpads on the steering wheel, the left a digital instrument cluster, the right a fussy infotainment system. The rest of the cabin is filled with leathers, woods, and metals, which are welcome but feel more appropriate to an S-Class than this pricey off-roader.

Anchored by a choice of 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8s paired with a nine-speed automatic and four-wheel drive, the new G-Class is worlds better on-road. Although Frank Markus found the AMG version “totally awesome” on winding roads, the base G 550 predictably suffered from understeer when pushed too hard—easy to do with 416 hp on tap. But it keeps its traditional off-road skill set. Both the G 63 and G 550 laughed at our off-road course, especially with the AMG’s Sand mode.

But there are issues. Modern nannies were overbearing, even playing the pre-crash safety sound during routine maneuvers. There were also several gremlins, including an improperly adjusting driver-side mirror.

Although the old G-Class was never perfect, it was charming. The new edition may have lost some of that character in embracing the modern world.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G 550 4Matic 2019 Mercedes-AMG G 63 4Matic
Base Price/As tested $125,495/$145,265 (est) $144,695/$167,145 (est)
Power (SAE net) 416 hp @ 5,250 rpm 577 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 450 lb-ft @ 2,250 rpm 627 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 5.4 sec 4.1 sec
Quarter-mile 14.1 sec @ 98.4 mph 12.6 sec @ 108.9 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 136 ft 123 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.61 g (avg) 0.75 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 30.7 sec @ 0.53 g (avg) 28.2 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Not yet rated Not yet rated
Vehicle Layout
Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine/Transmission 4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 /9-speed automatic 4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 /9-speed automatic
Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 5,665 lb (53/47%) 5,821 lb (54/46%)
Wheelbase 113.8 in 113.8 in
Length x Width x Height 189.7 x 76.0 x 77.2 in 191.9 x 79.3 x 77.4 in
Energy Cons, CITY/HWY Not yet rated Not yet rated
CO2 Emissions, Comb Not yet rated Not yet rated