The Mercedes-Benz G-Class has maintained largely the same shape for decades, and it's become an iconic profile. There's no mistaking a G-Class on the road, and the 2017 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is no exception.
The designers who first worked on the G-Class, which was initially built as a variant of a European military service nearly a half-century ago, had no inkling of the cultlike following this midsize luxury SUV would develop decades later among civilians in certain affluent corners of the U.S. — where it?s also referred to as the Geländewagen by those in the know.
The result is a unique vehicle: a high-riding off-roader loaded with luxury and gifted with massive power. In the end, the G-Class doesn't excel at either on- or off-road performance. Of course, its appeal doesn't lie in its capabilities but its impressive extremes — a fact Mercedes-Benz understands very well.
The new-for-2017 G550 4x42 is a perfect example of the G-Class' appeal. It's been raised even higher thanks to a reworked suspension, and given skid plates, larger tires, a roaring, quad-tip side-exit exhaust and a twin-turbo V8. It's the G-Class, only bigger.
Two AMG versions of the G-Class are also available. The AMG G 63 and AMG G 65 are definitely road-going vehicles, with sticky tires with low sidewalls. The former's 563-hp twin-turbocharged V8 and the latter's 621-hp twin-turbo V12 might be thought of as the poster children for automotive overkill. But overkill is what the G-Class is meant to do. EPA fuel economy estimates are about what you'd expect, with the entry-level G550 rated at 13 mpg combined (13 city/14 highway) and the fire-breathing AMG G 65 returning 12 mpg combined (11 city/13 highway).
The G-Class passenger cabin is nicely turned out in top-quality leather upholstery and wood trim. It's also a surprisingly quiet place, save for those times you decide to turn all those AMG-produced horses loose to gallop freely. It also features a user-friendly technology interface and well-sized functional knobs for the climate control system.
This is an old vehicle underneath, having mostly carried over for 40 years, which shows through in handling and interior space. The G-Class design is known for being difficult to get into and out of, for starters. Once inside, both front and rear seat passengers of anything more than average height are bound to feel crowded. There's not even as much cargo room as you might expect in an SUV that makes such a great pretense out of its practicality. The entry-level G550 will tow a 7,000-pound trailer, which is at least some concession to utility.
Ultimately, the G-Class is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, but either way it's undeniably eye-catching, and Edmunds can help you find the right 2017 Mercedes-Benz G-Class for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.