2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 SUV (5.5L V8 4x4 7-speed Automatic)
Driven On 2/26/2013
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
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.