2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 Track Test on Edmunds.com

2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 Track Test

On-Roading Merc's Big Off-Roader


The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 is one of the most formidable vehicles on the road today. Its body-on-frame design dates back to the late '70s when it was first conceived as a military vehicle. Not much has changed since then, as the G-Class, as it's now known, soldiers on with retro styling over modern hardware.

With its live axles, three locking differentials, ample ground clearance and 7,716-pound tow capacity, the G-Wagen is still a workhorse. But today, the G-Class' off-road worthiness plays second-fiddle to the posh Manhattan and Beverly Hills lifestyle reputation it has earned in recent years.

But how well does the G550 handle its new role? Surprisingly well. Much of that has to do with its ever-evolving drivetrain. The latest iteration pairs a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 producing 388 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Is it possible that the G550 is, despite its weight, quick? Or is it more likely that the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 is the slowest vehicle we've ever put through our slalom? Or both?

Odometer: 6,590
Date: 2/26/2013
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $113,905

Drive Type: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Seven-speed automatic
Engine Type: Twin-turbocharged V8, DOHC, variable valve timing
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 5,461
Redline (rpm): 6,250
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 388 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 391 @ 2,800-4,800
Brake Type (front): 12.3-inch ventilated discs with two-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 10.7-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Solid live axle, coil springs, gas-pressurized shocks.
Suspension Type (rear): Solid live axle, coil springs, gas-pressurized shocks.
Tire Size (front): 265/60R18 (110V)
Tire Size (rear): 265/60R18 (110V)
Tire Brand: Yokohama
Tire Model: Geolander H/T
Tire Type: All-season
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 5,670

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 2.3 (2.3 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.0 (4.0 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.3 (6.4 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.1 (6.1 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 9.4 (9.5 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.7 @ 91.9 (14.7 @ 91.8 w/ TC on)

30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 128

Slalom (mph): 49.7 (48.6 w/ TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.56 (0.56 w/ TC off)

Db @ Idle: 43.0
Db @ Full Throttle: 75.2
Db @ 70-mph Cruise: 65.7
RPM @ 70: 2,200


Acceleration: Gets a bit of wheelspin when you mash the throttle from a stop, even with traction control on and all-wheel drive. This thing positively rips off the line, hard to believe a truck this heavy can go this quick. The V8 sounds great, too. The automatic snaps off quick shifts. Manual shifting is via steering wheel paddles. Does not hold gears to rev limiter, but does blip throttle on manual downshifts.

Braking: The pedal isn't overly firm, and travel was on the long side. Very little nosedive despite soft suspension, but there was a bit of side-to-side wiggle. First stop was 130 feet. Second was shortest at 128 feet. Fifth (and final) stop was longest at 134 feet.


Skid pad: Very hard to learn anything here, other than the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 plows the front end super quickly and has a ton of lean angle. The stability control system is incredibly intrusive, frustratingly so, and continuously cuts the throttle all the way around the circle.

Slalom: This is the most intrusive stability control system I've ever come across. As soon as the G550 leans even the slightest bit, the ESC system starts pumping on the brakes. If you get aggressive at all, it will stab the brakes so hard that it's dangerous because it won't let you complete your turn. The steering is very slow and the suspension is very soft. It forces you to be as smooth as possible to keep the ESC at bay and, at 49.7 mph, apparently we didn't do a very good job.



  • Impressive acceleration for such a large, heavy vehicle. Unfortunately it was not designed for turning or sharp handling, at least not on pavement. Rich, image-conscious posers wanted. The engine in this vehicle is 5.5 liters with twin turbochargers and makes 388 hp with 391 lb-ft. The 5.0 in the Mustang GT makes 420 hp with 390 lb-ft and NO turbochargers. Perhaps I am comparing apples to oranges but interesting none the less.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    This ranks among the stupidest vehicles I've ever seen. An overpriced box as big and garish as the egos driving it around as a $113K status symbol. Stick a big enough engine in a boulder and it will accelerate well; that's not clever engineering. It made a good nemesis in the final car chase scene in the Bourne movie, and I must say its demise wrapped around a concrete tunnel pillar was well deserved.

  • carzrmylife carzrmylife Posts:

    EDIT: It is a naturally aspirated 5.5L V8 Not sure how everyone missed this... Great read though, I had a 2003 CLK500 the year the new body style came out, prior to the new NEW body style...and the 5.0L V8 was amazing for "only" 302hp. It has always amazed me how Benz can take 382hp from this 5.5L and make it move these things i.e. the S-Class, GL-Class, etc. the way that it does...I have an Infiniti G now but miss my CLK a lot...almost got an E550 coupe but read about the new bi-turbo 4.6L replacement that was in store and decided to go with the Infiniti G ...... for now............

Leave a Comment
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411