$73,594 - $120,613

2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.2

Test drivers report the new-for-2016 base V8 engine in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is refined and generates ample power, while the optional larger V8 engine delivers impressive acceleration. Most are less impressed, however, with the G-Class' on-road handling, saying its body rolls through turns and its steering feels numb. Still, critics say the G-Class is among the most capable off-road SUVs on the market.

  • With its high center of gravity, 5,500-pound heft and less than aerodynamic design, one might surmise aggressive cornering is not what the G-Wagen does best. But, this big luxury SUV does have a few surprises up its sleeve, namely far better steering and braking than we would have imagined and impressively quick straight-line performance." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "If you're considering the 2015 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, odds are there's a good chance it's made an emotional connection with you that'll be tough to break. Just know that you'll be missing out on the more modern overall driving experiences provided by its accomplished rivals." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The fact is, people generally don't buy a G-Class for the way it drives, but we think the fortunate few who take up the keys will be pleasantly surprised by how well this military-grade Benz handles the road." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "There are a number of issues that present themselves. First, the truck is fast. Faster than you'd ever expect it to be. That means that you might enter a corner quicker than you think. The steering rack is slow and steering is light without much feel. Combine all of those things, and you have the recipe for a truly terrifying first trip around a highway on ramp. The narrow, tall truck just doesn't corner." -- Jalopnik (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2016 G550 comes standard with a new twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that makes 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. The G550 gets up to an EPA-estimated 13/14 mpg city/highway, which is very low for the class. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard in all models.

The AMG G63 has a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that generates 563 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque, while the AMG G65 is equipped with a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that makes 621 horsepower and 738-pound feet of torque. According to Mercedes-Benz, the AMG G63 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and the AMG G65 can reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

The new base V8 that powers the G550 runs smoothly and makes plenty of power, according to reviewers, while the G63 delivers incredible acceleration. Some testers report that the transmission makes quick, seamless shifts.

  • "The new 4.0-liter biturbo V-8 is smooth and more than adequately powerful." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "What matters is the power delivery is still smooth and linear. It's one of the best traits of this engine in any application, and it's true here. The shove in the back you get when you hit the gas is consistent right up the rev range, just like the old engine, but slightly better." -- Motor Trend
  • "Upgrading to the even more powerful G63 gets you sports car-like acceleration that is positively stupefying." -- Edmunds (2014)
  • "It's equipped with a seven-speed automatic, which does a swell job. Shifts are fast, crisp, and smooth." -- Jalopnik (2013)

Handling and Braking

Most auto writers aren't impressed by the 2016 Mercedes-Benz G550's on-road handling, saying it has lots of body roll and the steering doesn't provide useful feedback. Still, some say it feels smaller when driving around town than its size would suggest. However, a few critics note that some competitors are more comfortable and more engaging to drive.

  • The G-Wagen, floats, rolls, and rocks about, and there's little to no communication through the ancient, recirculating ball steering. If you're looking for driver involvement, you'll be disappointed. But I can hardly knock the G-Class for not being a dynamic wonder on-road - if you buy this type of SUV, you should know what you're getting yourself into." -- Autoblog
  • "It actually drives a bit smaller than it is. It doesn't feel like it's taking up any more space in its lane than modern crossover/utility vehicles." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Driven around turns, the tall and narrow G doesn't inspire confidence. Moreover, the steering is slow and doesn't return to center quickly, since this vehicle is set up for off-roading." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • The G-Class proves easier to maneuver around town than expected, but still falls short of the ride one might experience in a more modern vehicle, such as the Audi Q7 or even the MB GL550." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)

Off-Roading

The 2016 G-Class comes standard with full-time four-wheel drive and three locking differentials. Test drivers report that the G-Class is an incredibly capable off-roader. They add that its boxy design is helpful on trails, allowing you to see exactly where the corners and wheels of the SUV are.

  • "One thing to note about off-roading in the G-Class, the boxy shape is a real aid here. You can see your corners, and you know exactly how tall and wide the whole SUV is. Roll down the front window, stick your head out, and you know exactly what's happening. It's all part of the experience." -- Autoblog
  • "On the ADAC offroad course, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz G550 is in its element, fording through muddy water nearly up to its three-pointed star, demonstrating amazing wheel articulation and no slip with the three differentials locked, pushing equal torque into the four wheels." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "With its full-time 4WD system with front, center and rear locking differentials, the G goes about its trail bashing (if one is so inclined in a $100,000 vehicle) with a more back-to-basics approach than what you'll get from a high-tech Land Rover or Lexus." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The G-Class' $115,000-plus price tag places it in league with the Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne, but should the need ever arise, its owners can take solace in knowing their luxury SUV remains one of the world's most rugged and confident off-road explorers ever built." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)

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