The military-inspired 2003 Mercedes-Benz G-Class 4X4 may look dull, but it can truly handle any terrain and take you there in luxury. Not every vehicle in this class rides on solid axles in the front and rear and even offers heated rear seats. It does not serve as a practical car, but people looking for a practical day-to-day family car do not buy it. It fills the niche market for people who want a car that can take them on adventures and keep them comfortable while getting there.
Basically these enormous cars prove great for off-roading but they cost so much and look so luxuriously appointed that off-roading may seem like a waste. In traffic, they prove too expensive to operate and can be tiresome to drive just by virtue of their size and weight.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 5.0-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-8
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz G500, Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
The G55 AMG starts new for 2003. The G500 remains basically unchanged from 2002.
The exterior looks boxy and inspired by armored vehicles. Nothing about the exterior looks “sleek” but if you are looking to buy it, chances are you don’t care. The upright windshield and the enormous bumpers and running boards all echo its military roots. Its height, 6.5 feet, may require you to measure your garage before you pull in just to make sure it fits, but the width is not bad; in fact it measures 10 inches narrower than its Hummer competitor. Overall, it fits exactly what one would expect for this class.
Both 2003 Mercedes-Benz G-Class models have luxury features such as remote power door locks, heated seats, power seats, and one-touch power windows. It includes cruise control, more than adequate storage, and a universal remote access button that can be programmed to open a garage door. Seats offer full adjustment and can memorize the settings for up to three different drivers. Dual-zone climate controls allow the driver and passengers to choose different temperatures. The seats use plush leather, and occupants find wood trim throughout. Overall, the interior seems both practical and very comfortable.
Performance & Handling
These two “wagons” offer phenomenal power. The G500 contains a five-liter, SOHC, 24-valve V-8 that produces 292 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 336 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. The G55 AMG adds 0.5 liters to the engine, bringing the horsepower to 349 at 5500 rpm and the torque to 387 lb-ft at 3000 rpm. Both cars use full-time four-wheel drive with hi/low gear selections. The drivetrain includes a mechanical center differential and front and rear locking differentials.
Despite the boxy exterior the 2003 Mercedes-Benz G-Class corners fairly well, although it experiences some body-roll when taking curves at high speeds. In fact, body-roll causes a problem any time the G-Class drives on pavement thanks to the front and rear live axles. The live axles at both ends, however, also mean it performs very well on extremely rocky terrain that would cause difficulty for most 4WD vehicles.
The heavy G-Class challenges the brakes and transmission no matter the speed on pavement. While driving on-road, even the slightest increase in speed requires major rpm.
Both cars have four-wheel anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assist, stability control, and traction control. All 2003 Mercedes-Benz G-Class vehicles come with remote anti-theft systems. COMAND audio/telephone/navigation service also comes standard. Other safety features include daytime running lamps and two front and three rear-seat headrests. Front airbags improve safety, but side-curtain airbags remain unavailable.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz G500: 13/14 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG: 14/15 mpg city/highway
You Won't Like
- Lacks side airbags
- Miserable fuel economy
An enormous SUV for a niche market, but it fits that market like a glove.
If You Like This Vehicle