The 2004 Mercedes-Benz G-Class sport utility vehicle (SUV) is an oddity, to say the least. It is a pricey vehicle with a long list of features and gadgets and has an interior that more than qualifies as ""luxury.? The performance is solid, but the handling doesn’t compare to most of the other SUVs on the market, regardless of pricing. The G-Class has a tough look and off-road performance to match. Unlike many of the luxury SUVs available, it is built on a truck platform and rides and handles as such. This is a truly unique vehicle for a specific buyer.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 5.0-liter V-8, 5.4-liter V-8
Models: Mercedes-Benz G500, Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
For 2004, the G-Class gets a trio of premium features that are now standard: a Harman-Kardon audio system, multi-contour front seats, and rear parking sensors.
The 2004 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUVs come in two trims: the G500 and G55 AMG. The G500 starts off with gear like 18-inch alloy wheels, rear wiper, headlamp washers, power sunroof, trailer wiring, running boards, and locking differentials at all points. The G55 AMG offers a more powerful engine and some sport tuning but nothing else exterior wise.
The G-Class could easily be mistaken for a military vehicle or a safari-business ride. The distinctive and aggressive look is a bit softened by some body effects but is mostly all business and rather unique, especially given the styling cues popular with most types of luxury SUVs. In fact, the blocky and tough appearance of the G-Class don’t suggest typical luxury attributes. This makes the G-Class an oddity with a specific appeal to certain types of buyers. The look could be labeled polarizing.
The G500 offers cabin features, such as leather seats, power adjustable heated front seats with power adjustable lumbar support, power windows, cruise control, tilt-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, interior air-filtration, dual-zone climate controls, lots of leather and wood trim, many memory setting capabilities, Tele Aid telecommunications service, navigation system, and a premium Harmon/Kardon audio system with in CD player and cargo area multi-CD player along with nine speakers including a subwoofer.
The interior is very much a luxury affair with great build quality and high-quality materials throughout. The ergonomics leave something to be desired, but otherwise the design is nice and reasonably usable. The cabin is decent on space but seems as though it should have more cargo space given the vehicle’s size.
Performance & Handling
The G500 uses an all-aluminum, five-liter, V-8 engine that produces 292 horsepower and 336 lb-ft of torque. An electronically-controlled five-speed automatic transmission sends power to a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a low range, which offers shift-on-the-fly operation for speeds up to 15 mph. The G55 AMG’s 5.5-liter V-8 produces 349 horsepower and 387 lb-ft of torque. The G500 turned in a zero-to-60-mph time of 7.9 seconds, a rather respectable performance for a heavy vehicle that shares an aerodynamic profile with a brick. At some points in the power band, performance falls to the level of adequate. The G-Class does have enough power to handle traffic situations and off-road challenges.
The handling is a mixed bag. It is better than expected given the height, size, and shape of these tank-like beasts, but it pales in comparison to car-based luxury SUVs that can cost much less. The steering is slow and resistant, highway wander is prevalent, and there is a concerning ""tippy"" feel around corners. But this tall SUV can go around corners without falling over and that has to be something of an engineering feat. The ride gets a bit choppy and has more rocking and pitching than just about any other SUV out there. Braking is good, although the pedals take some effort. The ride isn’t as comfortable as many other luxury SUVs, and the wind and tire noise can be quite noticeable.
Standard safety gear for the G-Class includes anti-lock brakes that have Brake Assist for automatic full-power braking in panic stops, electronic brake-force distribution, Mercedes-Benz’s Electronic Stability Program, and traction control. The lack of airbags is an issue, but the only one as far as safety goes. The NHTSA has not tested the G-Class for this model year. In IIHS testing, the G-Class earned the highest score of ""good"" for rear impact and head restraint, the only test performed for these vehicles.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz G500: 12/14 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG: 11/13 mpg city/highway
- Handles roads and off-road very well
- V-8 engine power
- Quiet highway ride
You Won't Like
- Steering and accelerator pedal use requires much effort
- No side airbags
- Poor ergonomics
- Uncomfortable rear seat
- Not much cargo room given large vehicle size
Perfect SUV for the luxury-survivalist crowd.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Land Rover Range Rover
- Hummer H1
- Volkswagen Touareg
- Lincoln Navigator
- Jeep Grand Cherokee