$92,173 - $164,577

2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 6.9

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class' base V8 engine is refined and powerful, while the optional larger V8 engine produces incredible acceleration. You'll be less impressed, however, with the G-Class' on-road handling. Its steering is uncommunicative, and there's plenty of body roll through turns. However, the G-Class is among the most capable off-road SUVs you can buy.

  • "The G63's 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 makes a ton of power; unfortunately, it's very hard to actually drive this thing. Steering is comically bad, handling is worse, and thanks to high-performance tires and silly exhaust placement, it's a liability off-road." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • From a capability standpoint, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV for 2017 will take you almost anywhere you want to go, from a secluded sandy beach to the most ... remote trailhead. However, if you're expecting to ride to these places in comfort and quiet, well, that just ain't gonna happen." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "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 G550 – the base trim for this SUV – comes with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that puts out 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. The G550 4x42 features the same engine. With this power plant, the G-Class never lacks for power, and its acceleration is good despite the vehicle’s size. However, there are stronger options available.

The Mercedes-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.

All G-Class models feature a seven-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and pairs well with the engines.

The G-Class gets embarrassingly bad fuel economy. The G550 gets an EPA-estimated 13 mpg in the city and 14 mpg on the highway. Shockingly, those are the best ratings in the G-Class lineup. The lowest belong to the G550 4x42, which gets 11 mpg in the city and 11 mpg on the highway.

  • "Power … [is] readily available at the tap of the accelerator. The G-Wagen is a lesson in physics, or perhaps a lesson in defying them. Its V8 engine is capable of propelling this nearly 3-ton SUV from 0-60 mph in a mass-defying 5.8 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The 563-horsepower G63 gets out of its own way better than anything this shape should. … The seven-speed automatic shifts quickly, but the steering gets light and the G becomes hard to control at wide-open throttle. What a noise, though!" -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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 (2016)

Handling and Braking

The G-Class comes standard with four-wheel drive, which isn’t the case with many competitors. The large, boxy shape makes the G-Class look a bit cumbersome, and it is. Steering feels vague, and there’s a lot of body lean around turns. Many rivals provide more adept handling than this Mercedes. On the bright side, ride quality is pretty good, and the G-Class feels smaller than it is when you drive it through the city.

  • Built on a truck-like ladder frame and with sides as slabbed as the Malibu cliffs, its ride tends to be rough, and wind noise only gets louder with speed. A Mercedes-Benz GLE may not have the attitude of the G-Class, but its on-road manners are much more civilized." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The steering constantly reminds you that this is a nearly 40-year-old military truck with working roots. The steering is terribly vague with seemingly random results. It also fails to center, causing constant, abnormal extra steering inputs." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • 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 (2016)

Off-Roading

The G-Class comes standard with full-time four-wheel drive, three locking differentials, and a two-speed transfer case. These features help the G-Class earn its status as a fearsome off-road machine. The boxy design helps with visibility on trails, and there’s plenty of ground clearance, especially in the G550 4x42 trim.

  • "While most luxury SUVs only hint softly at their off-road ability, the 2018 MB G-Class screams it proudly from the highest peak. You won't find a sedan-like ride or ultra-quiet cabin in the G-Class, but you will find a tenacious off-roader that will make you the envy of the Moab set." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2016)
  • "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 (2016)

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