Used 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV
- Go-anywhere off-road capability, potent V8 engines, surprisingly quiet on the highway.
- Expensive, heavy steering and accelerator pedal efforts, guzzles gasoline, not much cargo room, finicky COMAND electronics interface.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Outgunned and outclassed by other full-size luxury SUVs, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class will nevertheless appeal to a select few attracted to its retro, ultra-boxy looks and macho image.
"Refinement" is hardly the first word that springs to mind when staring down the flat, rectangular grille of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class. With its tall proportions and a silhouette that looks as if it were designed by FedEx, the G-Class cuts an imposing figure on the road as well as at the valet stand.
The G-Class first went on sale in 1979 as the Gelaendewagen (or G-wagen), which means "tough terrain vehicle." This body-on-frame SUV was primarily designed for military purposes, and aside from its updated power plants, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class maintains close ties to its heritage as a very capable off-road vehicle with four-wheel drive and three locking differentials. While off-road enthusiasts might be attracted to these features, we imagine that the $110,000 G55 AMG is overkill for most folks who want to trudge through the mud and rocks. Sure, there are plenty of luxury features inside the G-Class to keep occupants happy, but the lofty step-in height, upright seating position and heavy steering and throttle pedal efforts make the SUV feel more like a dressed-up Jeep Wrangler than an inherently comfortable Benz.
As a legitimate luxury sport-utility for daily use, the G-Class is outclassed by other full-size luxury models like the Lexus LX 570, Land Rover Range Rover and even Mercedes' own GL-Class. Pricing is also a concern, with even the G550 starting at about $100,000. About the only thing the G-Class boasts over its competitors is sheer power and machismo. Nevertheless, those are the attributes that will attract a small number of buyers to this 5,500-pound box on alloy wheels.
Trim levels & features
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a five-passenger luxury SUV available in G550 and G55 AMG trim levels. Both trims come fully equipped with 18-inch wheels (19s for the G55) a sunroof, bi-xenon headlamps, a heated windshield, running boards, rear park assist with a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt/telescoping heated steering wheel, 10-way power front seats with memory, heated and ventilated seats (front and rear) and leather upholstery.
Also standard is the voice-activated COMAND touchscreen interface that includes a hard-drive-based navigation system and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with satellite radio, HD digital radio, an SD card reader, an iPod/MP3 connector and an in-dash, six-CD changer. The COMAND system also allows access to real-time traffic updates and Zagat restaurant reviews. The G55 AMG also has front and rear light guards, dual side-exit chrome exhausts and premium "designo" leather and wood trim.
Performance & mpg
The Mercedes G550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 that produces 382 hp and 391 pound-feet of torque. The G55 AMG has a supercharged 5.5-liter V8 capable of 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Despite the SUV's heft, the latter power plant can propel the G55 AMG from zero to 60 mph in an estimated 5.4 seconds. The G550 comes with a seven-speed automatic transmission, while the G55 AMG retains a five-speed auto. Both G-Class models come standard with four-wheel drive and a two-speed transfer case controlled by a console-mounted switch. With a 50/50 torque split and electromechanically locking front, center and rear differentials, the G-Class is Mercedes-Benz's most capable off-road vehicle. Properly equipped, the G-Class is capable of towing 7,000 pounds.
Fuel economy estimates for the 2009 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG are listed at 11 mpg city/15 mpg highway and 12 mpg combined. Ratings for the G550 are not yet available.
Both 2009 Mercedes G-Class models come standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, full-length side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors. Side torso airbags are not available.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a truck-based SUV originally designed for military activities, and it drives like it. Although the two modern V8 engines move the G-wagen with impressive force, on-road handling and ride leave much to be desired. With its tall, boxy body, the G exhibits significant body roll, while its front and rear solid-axle suspension is better suited for tackling rugged off-road hills than it is for cruising through Beverly Hills.
Meanwhile, the heavy, old-school recirculating-ball steering offers limited feedback at higher speeds, and the stiff gas pedal requires too much effort, making cruise control a welcome friend on highway journeys. However, the quiet cabin makes for an unexpectedly serene ride.
Minor interior updates have made the G-Class appear more contemporary, including a revised version of Mercedes' COMAND system with a large, 6.5-inch high-resolution touchscreen display. The screen is clear and easy to see, but we're still not crazy about the buttons that control the COMAND system. Instead of the console-mounted control wheel used in the C-Class and S-Class, the G-Class employs awkward push-buttons on a circular control pad that's mounted on the center stack a layout more befitting a video game console than a luxury SUV.
An extensive standard features list ensures a cushy environment for the driver and all passengers. However, the very upright position of the driver seat might put off those used to more carlike cockpits. Owners had better be strong, too, since the rear swinging cargo door is heavy due to its full-size spare tire and stainless steel cover. Rear cargo capacity, at 80 cubic feet, falls short of other full-size sport utilities.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
For 30 years, the Mercedes G-Class has been a go-to vehicle for the world's military powers. It was originally designed for the Shah of Iran, and after he was exiled, the first batch of Gelaendewagens (as the G-Class was then called) passed to Argentina's armed forces. Military versions are still ordered and owned by many nations (including the United States), and VIPs everywhere use them for security reasons. Even the Popemobile is a modified G-wagen.
There are other imposing-looking SUVs on the market, but compared to the G, they're like wimpy Noriegas who run away at the first whisper of Metallica. Whether visiting rural hunting grounds or fleeing the country over undeveloped land, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz G550 can tackle virtually any terrain.
The G550's off-road tires make use of a full-time four-wheel-drive system that includes electronically locking front, center and rear differentials, and front skid plates and a standard brush guard stand ready to clear away jungle foliage. Also, the G weighs 5,600 pounds and is built like a bank vault. You'll hear the latter said about other Mercedes-Benz models, but only the G-wagen actually looks like a bank vault.
Unlike the departed Hummer H1, the G550 is a go-anywhere, military-sourced SUV that is truly luxurious without being preposterously huge. The cabin features the same supple leather surfaces and high-tech luxury features found in other wimpier Mercedes models. The G is monolithically tall (it may not fit in your garage), but it isn't particularly wide or long, making city visits to the adoring masses possible. It's also wickedly fast and stops like a protester at the point of a fire hose.
No truck is as desirable for its sheer presence, indestructible quality and go-anywhere capability. In a way, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz G550 makes just as much sense as a third car as a Porsche or Aston Martin — incredibly capable and impractical with eye-catching styling. As an everyday car, however, the G550 doesn't make much sense. The awkward around-town handling, enormous step-up height, passenger space issues and naval fuel consumption make a GL-Class or even a GLK-Class more suburban-friendly choices.
Used 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV Overview
The Used 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV is offered in the following styles: G550 4dr SUV 4WD (5.5L 8cyl 7A), and G55 AMG 4dr SUV 4WD (5.4L 8cyl S/C 5A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.