Mercedes-Benz G-Class offers real luxury and honest-to-goodness off-road abilities in one tough looking rough and tumble package. For drivers with big pocket books, serious off-road aspirations, and the ability to really appreciate luxury, this is one of the finest vehicle choices available.
Body styles: SUV
Engines: 5.5-liter V-8
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, seven-speed automatic
Models: G550, G55 AMG
For 2009, the G-Class receives a more powerful engine. The new G550 trim level replaces the previous year's G500 and has a 5.5-liter 382-horsepower V8. The G55 AMG is also a bit more powerful for 2009 and now boasts 500 hp. Both the G550 and G55 AMG get a few styling changes on the exterior and inside as well. Added to the standard equipment list are multi-contouring and ventilated front seats and a new COMAND system complete with up-to-date features like an iPod interface, a hard-drive-based navigation system, and HD digital radio.
The G-Class exterior is best described as unrefined, militaristic, and aggressive. This class comes in two trim levels for 2009: the G550 and G55 AMG. Both trims come fully equipped with a sunroof, bi-xenon headlamps, a heated windshield, running boards, and rear park assist with a rearview camera. The 550 uses 18-inch wheels while the G55 sports 19-inch wheels. The overall feel is of a capable off-roader with the features and build to match.
Both models feature a power tilt/telescoping heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated seats in the front and rear, and 10-way power front seats with memory and leather upholstery. The voice-activated COMAND has a touchscreen interface that includes a hard-drive-based navigation system and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with satellite radio, an SD card reader, HD digital radio, an iPod/MP3 connector, and an in-dash, six-CD changer that is standard. The COMAND system also allows access to real-time traffic updates and Zagat restaurant reviews.
Performance & Handling
The Mercedes G550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 that produces 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque while the G55 AMG has a supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 capable of 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The supercharged V-8 can propel the G55 AMG from zero to 60 mph in an estimated 5.4 seconds making for a respectable time given the hefty weight involved. A seven-speed automatic transmission is found on the G550 and the G55 AMG uses a five-speed automatic. Both G-Class models come standard with four-wheel drive and a two-speed transfer case controlled by a console-mounted switch. Features like a 50/50 torque split and electromechanically locking front, center and rear differentials make the G-Class the most off-road capable vehicles offered by Mercedes-Benz. The G-Class is capable of towing 7000 pounds with the right equipment.
Handling is indicative of the G-Class vehicles military roots. Massive body roll, hard on road riding, and challenging handling will remind the driver that this is really a truck. The pedal is practically a piece of workout equipment, meaning cruise control is a must. The steering is wholly uncommunicative.
Given the lower mileage of this beast, the 25.4 gallon tank still holds the range of the G55 AMG to 280 miles in city driving and 330 miles on the highway. The G550 goes a little farther with a range of 305 miles in the city and 381 miles on the highway.
Aside from looking like they could survive the Battle of the Bulge or jungle warfare, all 2009 Mercedes G-Class models come standard with anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, full-length side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG: 11/13 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz G550: 12/15 mpg city/highway
- Rugged style and design
- Serious off-road ability
- Great visibility
- Quiet highway ride
- V-8 power to spare
You Won't Like
- The price
- The much maligned COMAND system
- Steering and pedals are quite ""heavy""
- Poor fuel economy
- Surprising lack of cargo space
- Seating limited to five
Manages to be both driver friendly and a statement all in one.
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