Андрей Смирнов
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Mercedes-benz g 550 4×4 squared

Tech features

A 12.3-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility provides the center stack with a much-need dose of modernity that presents itself far better than the tacked-on look of outgoing model’s COMAND system. While the G550 comes with analog gauges for the speedo and tach by default, a second 12.3-inch display for the gauge cluster is optional and replaces those analog elements when equipped.

The infotainment system is controlled by way of a rotary dial and touchpad combination, while a small collection of hard buttons on the center console and steering wheel provide quick access to often-used functions. The touchpad is generally receptive to inputs, but it can be finicky in colder temperatures or when wearing gloves, which we occasionally found frustrating since there are no other methods of getting around in the menu system.

While the COMAND system’s integrated navigation gets the job done, the sharp resolution of the 12.3-inch display along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility means that a lovely rendition of Google Maps is just a USB connection away, making the latter our preferred method of handling nav and DJ duties during our time with the G550.

Four drive modes are available via a toggle switch on the center console – Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual. Comfort is the default state for the vehicle, while Eco dulls response in pursuit of higher efficiency, and Sport dials up the urgency for sharper control. The Individual setting allows the driver to pick and choose their preferred settings among the variables provided in order to best suit their taste.

The new G-Class also sports a bevy of standard active safety features, including blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assistance. These features finally bring it into the 21st century, and place it on par with other models in its competitive set.

All Mercedes-Benz Models

  • Mercedes-Benz 190
  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG A 35
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 35
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG E 63
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  • Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 63
  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class
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  • Mercedes-Benz AMG C
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  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz CL-Class
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  • Mercedes-Benz AMG E 53
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG G
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG G 63
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG G 65
  • Mercedes-Benz G 550 4×4 Squared
  • Mercedes-Benz G-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG GL
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 250
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  • Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e Plug-In Hybrid
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  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500XD
  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4500

Interior and exterior design

The G550’s squared-off look is undoubtedly a major selling point for the truck – it sticks out amongst a sea of vehicles that have been designed in wind tunnels, now perhaps more so than ever. The exposed hinges, clamshell hood, and flat panels give the G-Class a purposeful look, and it’s backed up by a pronounced heft to the proceedings – the doors take more muscle to close than you initially expect them to, and the locks come down with a sharp clack that makes it feel like you’ve just secured yourself in a bank vault. Brushed aluminum and wood accents provide visual stimuli and a sense of luxury without bordering on garishness. It feels better built inside than Land Rover’s Range Rover, one of its main competitors.

Over the years, the G-Class has received criticism for its cramped confines, so Mercedes threw some development weight behind addressing the issue with this new model. It’s now 2.1 inches longer and 2.5 inches wider than its predecessor despite losing 375 pounds, and the expanded exterior dimensions help to provide more interior room. Front occupants score 1.5 inches of additional legroom out of the deal, while rear passengers gain a whopping 5.9 inches of additional legroom. The brick-like shape of the G-Class has always facilitated ample headroom, even for taller occupants, and the new model is no exception to the rule.

The rear door swings open to reveal an abundance of cargo room despite the fact that the rear seats do not fold flat. Although the official number is likely a bit lower than the outgoing model because of the extra rear passenger space, you’re still working with about 80 cubic feet of space – more than enough for most folks. To add context, the Range Rover boasts up to 31.8 cubic feet of trunk space with both rows of seats left up, and 68.6 cubes with the second row folded flat.

Go big and go home in the most outrageous G-Class yet.

– Los Angeles, California

Nothing oozes cool quite like a Mercedes G-Class, especially out here in Los Angeles. They’re everywhere, in bright and matte colors; the AMGs outnumber the standard G550s, and I’ve even seen a few Brabus-tuned ones in the past few months. But no G-Class sold in the U.S. up until this point can match the badassery of the G550 4×4² – that’s “4×4 Squared.” It is the ultimate embodiment of everything G. Say what you will about the gawdy appearance. You’re wrong, it’s cool, and I absolutely love it.

Pros

It’ll go just about anywhere. Even though the majority of Los Angeles-based 4×4 Squareds will probably just end up cruising Beverly Boulevard on their way to The Grove, I had to get this thing out into the dirt. And after a few hours at Hungry Valley off-road park in Gorman, CA, I can tell you that this 4×4² is pretty much unstoppable – portal axles, an extra eight inches of ground clearance, and dual springs and struts at each wheel certainly does the trick. It’ll drive up steep, rocky hills. It’ll ford deep waters. And that’s before you put it in low range and lock the differentials. I know I didn’t even come close to reaching the limits of this SUV’s off-road capability, but I’ll say, this is one Mercedes that loves to get dirty.

It’s easy to drive. Yes, it’s 5.3 inches wider and 11.1 inches taller than a normal G550, but that’s not as intimidating as you think. The 4.0-liter biturbo V8 offers a wallop of power, but it’s delivered progressively, and with a hearty exhaust note. The recirculating ball steering is super vague and heavy at times, but the 4×4² never feels cumbersome to drive around town. Plus, you can see over everything, and honestly, once people see one of these approaching in their rearview mirrors, they tend to just get the hell out of your way.

Tremendous curb appeal. Never mind the bro-dozer proportions, most people I talked to actually think the 4×4² looks rad. You’ve got to love the huge 22-inch wheels, red brake calipers, and comically large 325/55-series all-terrain tires. The wheel arches have carbon fiber trim. The rear end has an extra double-bar chrome bumper. And I must say, I kinda dig the way the G-Class looks without the spare tire cover on the rear door. I was honestly expecting to get people pointing and laughing at me the entire time I drove it, but that was hardly the case. Kids put their thumbs up. Guys in Super Duty trucks tipped their hats. Even the folks I met at the off-road park liked it. Neat.

Cons

Okay, maybe it’s a little too big. I stand just five feet, eight inches tall, and getting in and out of the G550 4×4² is kind of a pain in the ass. Open the door, reach up and grab the steering wheel, and then hoist myself up onto the puny sill step. Getting out is pretty much a leap of faith to the ground, and I’m sorry to anyone who has to try to do this exercise while accessing the rear seats, with their poor ingress and egress. Also, while playing at the off-road park, the extra width and height makes the 4×4² too big for some trails. I scraped the roof light bar on a couple of trees and the wheel arch extensions on a few bushes (sorry). Unavoidable in something this big. That’s why real off-roaders just buy shorter, narrower Wranglers.

It’s hella expensive. I originally wrote a paragraph in the “pros” section about how nice the G550 is inside. It’s true, you get diamond-stitched Designo seats with Alcantara accents. There’s leather everywhere. Indeed, it’s a Mercedes-Benz. But it’s also $225,000, making it the most expensive of all G-Class variants, and in fact, the most expensive Mercedes vehicle behind the AMG S65 Coupe and Cabriolet. Of course, it’s already discontinued, so I guess that’s a moot point. To the owners, well, I guess I’ll see you around Beverly Hills.

Mercedes-Benz G550 (the normal one)Toyota Land Cruiser

Photos: Michael Shaffer / Mercedes-Benz

Gallery: 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4×4 Squared: Review

Photo by:

Michael Shaffer

2017 MERCEDES-BENZ G550 4×4²

Engine

Biturbocharged 4.0-Liter V8

Output

416 Horsepower / 450 Pound-Feet

Transmission

7-Speed Automatic

Speed 0-60 MPH

7.3 Seconds

Efficiency

11 City / 11 Highway / 11 Combined

Drive Type

Four-Wheel Drive

Weight

6,825 Pounds

Towing

7,500 Pounds

Seating Capacity

5

Cargo Volume

79.5 Cubic Feet

Base Price

$225,000

As-Tested Price

$232,425

Driving impressions

Press the ignition button and the G550 roars to life with an air of authority. Under the hood is Mercedes’ twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8, which generates 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque in this state of tune, and power is sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a combination that’s good for a sprint to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds – an eyebrow-raising feat given the truck’s 5,600-pound curb weight. That’s quicker than the entry-level Porsche Cayenne. You’ll never think twice about merging onto the highway or passing a truck on a twisty, two-lane road.

Whatever the G550 might lack in on-road manners it more than makes up for when the conditions are less than hospitable.

The G-Class has never been a nimble machine, but Mercedes has put some effort into providing some improvement here as well, ditching the recirculating-ball steering rack in favor of a more conventional rack and pinion setup and swapping out the live front axle for a double wishbone suspension.

Working in concert, these chassis tweaks help to provide a more traditional driving experience that makes piloting the big machine less of a harrowing affair. Our tester was equipped with optional adaptive dampers, which help to curtail body motion in the Sport setting while allowing for reasonable compliance during everyday driving in Comfort mode.

Bradley Iger/Digital Trends

Around town the G550 is still a bit of an oaf – the big, heavy truck requires patience and deliberate inputs even in its sportiest settings, and the slow ratio of the new steering rack doesn’t exactly encourage spirited driving – there’s an AMG-tuned G63 model for that sort of work, after all. Buyers seeking a large, luxurious SUV that’s relatively city-friendly should look at the Porsche Cayenne. There’s also a noticeable amount of wind noise at freeway speeds, no doubt a result of the truck’s boxy silhouette.

Some vehicles are more capable off-road, and others are better behaved on-road, but none of them are a G-Class.

But whatever the G550 might lack in on-road manners, it more than makes up for when the conditions are less than hospitable – a discovery we made when we found ourselves in the middle of a snow storm while heading back down the mountain. Although the Pirelli all-season tires were a bit out of their depth in those icy conditions, the G550’s all-wheel drive and sophisticated traction control system kept the truck confidently planted no matter what the elements threw at us.

With lots of heft to lug around, and a boosted V8 under the hood, it’s not surprising that the G550 isn’t the king of fuel efficiency. Official EPA numbers pegged it at 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, and 14 mpg combined, and we saw a touch less than that because of our inclination to disable the automatic start/stop feature and our lead-footed driving style. The Range Rover doesn’t do much better in its standard configuration, but Land Rover offers fuel economy-conscious buyers turbodiesel and plug-in hybrid options rated at 24 mpg and about 20 mpg combined, respectively.

Our Take

Buying a G-Class is an emotional purchase. Like a supercar, the G550’s appeal isn’t based on practicality, efficiency, or reliability – you buy a G-wagen because it’s a G-wagen. Mercedes-Benz understands this, and it has given the sport-utility a number of updates that make it easier to live with on a day to day basis without altogether abandoning its intent and purpose.

Some vehicles are more capable off-road, and others are better behaved on-road, but none of them are a G-wagen. And for many would-be owners, that’s all that really matters.

Should you get one?

If you’ve been waiting for a more civilized G-Class, now’s your time to strike.   

Updated 2-19-2019: Added more information about the infotainment system.

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