Pricing and Which One to Buy
Every G-class commands a six-figure price, and that number can get a lot higher with the wide array of expensive options. While that means most people can’t afford a new G550, it also makes the Mercedes more exclusive. We’d avoid the priciest upgrades and enhance our version with thoughtful choices. These include the optional 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires that maximize its off-road abilities. We’d also go for the Exclusive Interior package that adds the nicer nappa leather upholstery and snazzier trim pieces. The Seat Comfort package includes massaging front seats with ventilated cushions, and the available adaptive dampers allow adjustable ride quality. The only other options we’d choose are the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and heated steering wheel.
The Mercedes-Benz G-class is a cultural icon and one of the most versatile SUVs on the planet. However, it’s also among the most expensive, which caters to the company’s elite clientele. A potent twin-turbo V-8 helps move this unmistakable box posthaste, and its sturdy all-wheel-drive system ensures few roads are off limits. The Merc’s airy and cargo-friendly cabin includes luxurious amenities and high-tech features. It also can be outfitted with extravagant options, but they’ll further inflate the G-wagen’s already lofty price. While it isn’t as agile or serene as high-dollar alternatives from Bentley and Rolls-Royce, the 2020 G550 has the added bonus of being seriously capable off-road and undeniably cool everywhere else.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Adding to the G-class’s off-road chops, the interior is all about luxury and offers more space for people and cargo than the previous generation. Standard features include heated front and rear seats with leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering column, and three-zone automatic climate control. With the check of a few option boxes, buyers can enjoy massaging front seats with ventilation, a heated steering wheel, nappa leather upholstery, and a digital gauge display. The G manufaktur interior packages offer the most opulent materials and features, but they cost a considerable amount of money. While there’s no shortage of headroom in the front or rear seats, the experience isn’t as palatial as other high-end SUVs such as the Bentley Bentayga or Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Still, the Benz has tons of cargo space. The version we tested held 16 carry-on suitcases behind its back row and another 17 bags with those seats folded (33 total).
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Powered by a twin-turbo V-8 that makes 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque, the G550 is as quick on the street as it is capable on the trail. Those who want an even speedier G-wagen can opt for the AMG-tuned G63 (reviewed separately) that makes 577 horses and 627 lb-ft but costs almost $25,000 more to start. All-wheel drive is standard on the G550, and its engine shuttles power through an obedient nine-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 G550 that we tested had much improved road manners compared with the outgoing model, thanks to an independent front suspension and a lower center of gravity. However, its square and tall body caused a lot of wind noise at higher speeds, and it sure doesn’t help the SUV feel swift around corners. Still, the G550’s steering feels more precise than ever and the ride quality is composed on all but the choppiest surfaces. Mercedes also equips each G-class with three locking differentials and a low-range gear, which means it can tackle just about any terrain. That along with generous ground clearance and a maximum towing capacity of 7000 pounds make it a useful tool when it’s not shuttling socialites.