From the outside, the retro-styled 2008 Mercedes-Benz G-Class still boasts the same boxy body as when the five-passenger luxury SUV debuted nearly 30 years earlier. Mercedes adds a few fancy features inside, however, including a rear-view camera, a hands-free phone interface, and a modernized control cluster.
The 2008 version of the G-Class comes in two trim levels: a base G500 and performance-oriented G55 AMG. Both trims offer the same set of interior and exterior luxuries, but the G55 AMG replaces the G500’s 5.0-liter V-8 engine with a more muscular 5.4-liter V-8 and adds some premium enhancements such as larger brakes and tires. Originally designed for military use, the four-wheel-drive G-Class has a truck-based body and solid-axle suspension that contribute to a rougher ride and heavier on-road handling than most modern sport utility vehicles. However, as an offroad warrior and a sizeable status symbol, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz G-Class excels.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 5.0-liter V-8, 5.4-liter V-8
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, seven-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz G500, Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
For 2008, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class’ two trims get updated with a more modern steering wheel, instrument cluster, and taillights. New conveniences include a rear-view camera, a hands-free interface, and Mercedes’ satellite-based TeleAid communications system.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz G-Class stands out from the crowd with a uniquely squared-off body, high ground clearance, and a retro design. Standard features on the G500 include a chrome grille, 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, corner-illuminating fog lights, privacy glass, a remote-operated power steel sunroof, variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers, a side-hinged rear door with an intermittent rear window wiper, a rear defogger, step running boards, cargo tie-downs, and trailer wiring. In addition to a more robust V-8 engine, upgrading to the G55 AMG gets you special wood and leather trim, light guards, wider tires, bigger brakes, and chrome side-exit exhaust pipes. With the exception of some dealer-installed options, the G-Class offers no add-ons or packages.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz G-Class features a recently-refreshed interior with updated controls and a new steering wheel. As in prior years, the G-Class includes a long list of standard luxuries.
The G500 comes equipped with leather upholstery, leather and wood trim, multi-level heated seats, heated 10-way adjustable front seats with lumbar support, memory settings for three drivers, a split-folding rear seatback, a heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, power locks, power mirrors with integrated turn signals, one-touch power windows, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, interior air filtration, dual-zone climate control, extended cabin heating, a trip computer, a compass, an external temperature display, and a cargo net. Standard technology features include a DVD-based navigation system, a hand-free phone interface, a TeleAid emergency telecommunications system, and a 10-speaker premium Harman Kardon sound system with an in-dash CD player and rear-located CD changer. Interior amenities for the G55 AMG look identical, with the exception of upgraded trim.
While not lacking in elegance, the cabin of the G-Class can’t compare with the comfortable interiors offered by many modern luxury SUVs. A truck-like driving position and limited cargo space may pose a problem for some buyers. Seating room remains about average for a large SUV, with front passengers receiving 42.2 inches of headroom, 52.5 inches of legroom, and 53.7 inches of shoulder room and rear passengers getting 40 inches of headroom, 41.9 inches of legroom, and 56.3 inches of shoulder room.
Performance & Handling
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz G500 contains a 5.0-liter V-8 engine that produces 292 horsepower and 336 lb-ft of torque, while the high-performance G55 AMG uses a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8, making an impressive 493 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. When fitted with the supercharged engine, the 5500-pound G-Class reaches 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, according to the manufacturer. The 5.0-liter V-8 pairs with a seven-speed automatic transmission and the 5.4-liter with a five-speed automatic. Both trims feature four-wheel drive and a switch-controlled, two-speed transfer case.
With its body-on-frame construction, front and rear solid-axle suspension, and three locking differentials, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz G-Class suits almost any terrain. Unfortunately, the SUV’s military roots don’t come in so handy on the pavement. The G-Class’ suspension system doesn’t do much to smooth out bumps, its tall body is prone to noticeable body roll on turns, and its steering feels heavy. On the plus side, the well-built interior cancels out most road noise for a quiet ride. Properly equipped, the G-Class can tow up to 7000 pounds.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz G-Class comes equipped with standard anti-lock brakes, front and rear head airbags, self-leveling headlights, front and rear locking differentials, and a post-collision safety system.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz G500: 12/15 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG: 11/13 mpg city/highway
- Offroad capability
- Quiet ride
- Powerful engines
- Status symbol
You Won't Like
- Poor gas mileage
- Outdated design
- Limited storage
- Heavy steering
Classic, retro-styled luxury SUV rolls on largely unchanged.
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