2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 SUV (5.5L V8 4x4 7-speed Automatic)
Driven On 2/26/2013
You have to want the 2013 G550. On paper, and on the road, there are better SUVs for the money. Few, however, have the off-road ability, hand-built pedigree and 30-plus-year lineage of the legendary G Wagen.
PerformanceThe Mercedes-Benz G550 has a strong motor and good brakes. But, again, this truck is awkward on road and originally designed for off-road performance.
With 382 horsepower from a 5.5-liter V8, the G550 is not slow. 60 comes up in 6.3 seconds. The 7-speed transmission shifts effortlessly and quickly.
Again showing its off-road roots, the G550's brakes are strong and pedal travel is optimized for off-road driving -- low initial bite and long stroke.
The G550's electric-assist recirculating-ball steering is odd. It offers little feel and isn't linear. It also doesn't react to harsh bumps -- this is off-road steering.
The G550 is the worst-handling vehicle we've ever tested. Again, this is an off-road truck. Electronic stability control keeps everything tidy and safe.
The G550 has a steep learning curve to drive on the road. It's huge, tall and awkward. The engine and 7-speed transmission do play well together, though.
The 2013 G550 will tow 7,000 pounds
This is where the G shines. Three locking differentials, 36-degrees of approach angle and a chassis made for serious off-roading.
ComfortThe G550 is a mix of excellent interior comfort and less-than-stellar driving comfort.
The G550 has the same great 10-way power seats found in most new Mercedes'. Lots of adjustment and support.
The G550 is tamed for on-road driving, but at its core, this is still a truck.
It's shaped like a box and has all-terrain tires. There's prevelant wind and tire noise.
InteriorOnce again, a paradox: Tons of headroom, mimal shoulder/hip room. Great ergonomics, but difficult ingress and difficult sight lines.
With this latest iteration of the G Wagen, all of the familiar MB switches and levers are integrated along with the newest version of COMAND.
The G550 is tall, and there's a steep step-in. There's a grab handle and a step-board, however getting up could be a challenge for some.
Leg- and shoulder room are tight, though there is plenty of headroom.
The G550 would score worse here if not for front and rear parking sensors, a back-up camera and blind-spot monitoring. Rear sight lines are obsured.
The cargo capacity of the G is 45.2 cubic feet and the rear door couldn't be bigger (or heavier). Slightly tall load floor.
ValueThere are more luxurious SUVs and there are ones that are equally as good off-road. There are few, if any, that are as good at both.
Build Quality (vs. $)
The G550 is hand-built to extremely high specifications.
The excel chart on the G550 may not add up. There are other off-roaders, and there are far more luxurious SUVs.
With a starting price of $113,000, the G550 isn't cheap. What you get, though, is a near-indestructable, quasi-military vehicle with a luxury interior.
The EPA rates the G550 at 12 city, 15 highway and 13 combined mpg. We averaged worse. Big V8 and tons of power has a price.
The G550 has a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty.
The 2013 G550 does not have a free maintenance plan.
Fun To DriveIn its element or on the road, the G550 oozes presence and drives like nothing else on the road.
The G550, despite the all-new interior, is a relic from a different time and a vehicle with an altogether different purpose than anything else on the road. It's fun!
Few things on the road have as much presence as a 6-foot-3 SUV with big brush guard. This thing is all heritage and personality…with the off-road cred to back it up.