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2025 Mercedes-Benz G 550 First Drive: Still a G-Wagen, Even Without the V8

The G's new inline-six lacks character, but this SUV still rules

2025 Mercedes-Benz G 550 front 3/4
  • The Mercedes-Benz G-Class gets a number of updates for 2025.
  • The base G 550 loses its V8, but the new turbo I6 engine promises quicker acceleration and better fuel economy.
  • Don't worry, the G-wagen will still go off-road with the best of 'em.

The 577-horsepower AMG G 63 might be the cash cow of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class lineup, but don't sleep on the base G 550. The entry-level G-wagen is every bit as G-wagen-y as its siblings, though — sad trombone — the new G 550 loses a core part of its appeal.

What's that you hear? Well, it definitely isn't the sound of the old G 550's 4.0-liter V8. Instead, that engine is exclusively reserved for the AMG G 63; the G 550 makes do with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six. This engine's 443 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque represent an increase of 27 hp but a decrease of 37 lb-ft compared to the V8. However, standard 48-volt integrated starter-generator tech is on hand to provide as much as 20 hp and 148 lb-ft of supplemental boost to get the G-wagen up and moving and to smooth out the operation of the engine's stop-start system.

2025 Mercedes-Benz G 550 engine

Mercedes-Benz says the new G 550 can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, which is an 0.3-second improvement over its V8-powered forebear. Still, nothing beats the bassy roar of that old 4.0-liter engine — especially combined with the hearty exhaust rumble from the G-wagen's side pipes. What the G gains in quickness — and what it'll likely gain in fuel efficiency — is canceled out by what it's lost in character. Womp womp.

No matter, the G 550 still drives like it did before. To call it dynamic would be a stretch, but there's definitely something entertaining about the way this cinder block on wheels pitches and dives and rolls through corners. The steering is light in the default Comfort mode but weights up a bit when you switch to Sport. No, you can't get the trick AMG Active Ride Control suspension that's available on the G 63. But come on, it's not like anyone's buying a G 550 for its ability to carve canyons. There aren't that many curves in downtown Beverly Hills.

Off-road, the G 550 continues to be a leather-lined Swiss Army knife of mud-slinging, rock-crawling capability. It has approach and departure angles of 30 degrees and 31 degrees, respectively, and 9.5 inches of ground clearance. (Mind those side pipes, of course.) Three locking differentials and a low-range four-wheel-drive system will help you manage power between all four wheels, and if things get super wet — like they did while I was testing the new G 550 in southern France — you can ford over 2 feet of water.

2025 Mercedes-Benz G 550 interior

The best part? It's all easy-peasy to do. The high seating position and flat hood give you great visibility out the front, and plenty of exterior cameras give you better views of the world outside, mostly so you don't come slamming down on a jagged rock or royally screw up your fancy Manufaktur paint job. Turn on the heated seats and treat yourself to a massage. You might be up to your axles in muck, but you still deserve a little luxury.

Speaking of which, the G-wagen's cabin is a teensy bit nicer than before, with redesigned climate controls, a cubby for your smartphone, USB-C charging cables, and — holy smokes, you guys — keyless entry. That last one is actually kind of miraculous for the G-wagen, since the bank-vault door slam and gunshot door locks are iconic parts of the G-Class experience. I'd be pissed if they were compromised for the sake of key fob convenience.

The 2025 G-Class finally gets the MBUX software Mercedes-Benz uses in its other vehicles, with a pair of high-res displays acting as a reconfigurable gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen. You can even connect Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly now. What a world.

2025 Mercedes-Benz G 550 rear 3/4

Add to that new safety technologies like active steering assistance, automatic emergency braking and route-based speed adaptation, and the new G 550 offers a level of active and passive tech you'd never expect in a vehicle so proudly anachronistic.

It's unclear how much the 2025 G-Class will cost, and its EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings are TBD as well. But surely it'll be priced around $145,000, since that's just above where the current one starts. And boring as the new inline-six engine is, the G 550 will likely do better than its predecessor's 14 mpg combined.

Edmunds says

The G 550 is every bit a G-wagen. Losing the V8 engine is definitely a bummer, but at least the other updates help soften that blow.

2025 Mercedes-Benz G 550 front 3/4