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2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Performance Review


Performance: 8.2

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class comes with a powerful V8 engine, and there's a high-performance model available for the true thrill-seekers. Though it's a large SUV, the G-Class handles curves fairly well, and it rides smoothly, though nobody will mistake this vehicle for a sports car. Where it really shines, though, is in off-road situations. This Mercedes can go anywhere, including places that rivals can't even get to. As for fuel economy, there's only one word to describe it: terrible.

  • If it is the stoplight derby that interests you, the G63 can take on just about anything and more often than not win. A Mustang GT or Porsche Cayman S are within its reach, and no one would advise driving either of those cars over rocks. In a straight, flat line, this 5,500-pound block of G-Class almost defies inertia. It absolutely accelerates like a sports car, from any speed in any of its nine forward gears, but it doesn't turn like one (nor like a Porsche Cayenne). AMG can work all the magic it wants, but with up-high mass, the G63 is reluctant to change directions quickly, and it can be a bit unnerving when it does. Its big body takes awhile (sic) to catch up with the tires, even with tiny sidewalls. And even with a new, slight rearward bias in the all-wheel drive (without the diff lock, of course), the G63 still plows like a rugged military vehicle (which it is)." -- AutoWeek
  • "Of the two, the G 550 is the better balanced. Its carryover V-8 is given new life thanks to its nine-speed automatic. Hardly a slouch off the line in its previous form, the new G 550's brisk acceleration belies its cinderblock aerodynamics. The nine-speed shifts quickly and transparently, always choosing the right gear, and in sport mode it improves performance by holding gears longer, delivering rev-matched downshifts backed up by a lovely V-8 soundtrack." -- Motor Trend
  • While the independent front suspension goes a long way toward taming the G's ride, and the sturdier ladder frame helps keep its center of gravity low, the G is still a tall, narrow truck. It doesn't lean in corners nearly as much as its positively nautical predecessor, but the tires start squealing early and surrender to understeer shortly thereafter. … Switching the dynamic dampers into firmer settings in either version buys fractionally more cornering ability, but you're always aware of the G's towering height and its off-road mission." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The base G 550 features a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine that puts out 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission comes standard. This engine has a nice sound, and it delivers plenty of power to get the G-Class moving quickly. Mercedes claims the G 550 can race from zero to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds.

The Mercedes-AMG G 63 comes with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that makes 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. The base G-Class is quick, but the AMG model boasts a sports-car-esque zero-to-60 time of 4.4 seconds, according to Mercedes' estimates. Punching the gas in this model is not for the faint of heart.

The G-Class comes with cylinder deactivation technology, which means it can reduce the number of active cylinders in low-stress situations in order to boost fuel economy. Despite this technology, the base G-Class gets 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway, according to EPA estimates.

  • "The G 550's V8 has been retuned but produces the same 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet, eliciting a sensuously deep rumble when you prod the accelerator from a stop or move out to pass. It's seriously intoxicating, and the accompanying thrust can make you giggle." -- Autoblog
  • "There's a great rush of power from the moment you hit the throttle. The automatic transmission now has nine gears instead of seven, and it shifts with imperceptible immediacy. Ruthlessly powerful but utterly smooth, the Affalterbach-bred V8 has a low, rumbling exhaust note that'll make you think you're in a proper AMG model instead of the base G550. (The new AMG G63, by the way, is a rip-snorting riot.)" -- CNET
  • The G 63 feels just as maniacal as the old model when you bury your foot in the throttle, with a soundtrack to match. Even when not on the gas, this hand-built V-8 feels fast; with its 627-lb-ft of torque are available low in the rev band, the AMG gets moving at a good clip without really having to try." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

By class standards, the G-Class has reasonably good on-road handling. There's good road grip around turns and not too much body lean. That said, this is still a vehicle that's best-suited for off-road use. However, its ride is generally smooth.

There are five driving modes to choose from (Comfort, Sport, Eco, Individual, and adaptive G-Mode) that alter the G-Wagen's dynamics to your liking. The AMG G 63 swaps Eco and G-Mode for Slippery and Sport+ mode, and it also adds three other modes (Sand, Trail, and Rock) that boost off-road performance.

Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system comes standard in the G-Class, and it features a 40:60 front to rear torque distribution to improve traction during acceleration. It also comes with a two-speed transfer case, three locking differentials (front, center, and rear), and an independent front suspension with a double-wishbone front axle, which helps on-road performance.

  • "The G-Class finally moves down the highway like a modern vehicle. It's infinitely more planted. The new independent front suspension eliminates all the quiver and jostle of the old solid axle, replaced by a calm, compliant ride that compares favorably to the likes of Range Rover for the very first time. Gone is the tippy-toes, top-heavy feel of the old rig." -- Road and Track
  • When the road inevitably turns to something other than a straight line, the 2019 G 550 actually behaves itself. The catastrophic understeer and body roll of the previous generation hasn't vanished, but it takes considerably more speed to find it. For most buyers, it will feel like sliding behind the wheel of a Tahoe, whereas the previous generation was more akin to coaxing a wheelbarrow full of top-heavy crates down a hallway." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The G-Class just isn't the vehicle you should choose if certain types of on-pavement dynamics interest you, beyond the stoplight derby. Steering at low to moderate speed is ... eh. It feels like it's pressuring back against your input. That may be a new electric-assist thing, but mostly it's a G thing. In general, there's an off-road optimized feel to all the controls." -- AutoWeek


Many of the features detailed above also contribute to the G-Wagen's outstanding off-road capabilities. This SUV carries a luxury badge (and a price tag to match), but it's as rugged as they come when the pavement ends. On top of those aforementioned features, the G-Class provides 9.5 inches of ground clearance and can ford depths of 27.5 inches. It can also climb a 45-degree incline and handle a lateral slope with a 35-degree tilt.

In short, this big SUV is a beast when it comes to off-roading.

  • "Straight off the showroom floor, with the right choice of tires, the new G550 still does tricks that others cannot, and does them with impunity. Impunity from the type of surface underneath, from stress on its operator, even from fear of failure. The tricks include 50-degree grades, up or down, lateral treks across 40-degree grades and articulating through an endless sequence of bumps and craters that would twist lesser machines like a beer can headed for the recycling bin." -- AutoWeek
  • "…We saw indicated 60-plus-degree inclines and declines repeatedly during an off-road demonstration, scrambling up loose rock and dirt like it was asphalt, and stopping and reversing back up hills to showboat. So long as it isn't high-centered, the G feels as if it can't get stuck." -- Car and Driver
  • "On this actual mountain in southern France, the new G-Class demonstrates astonishing control. … Massive impacts that would send cringe-worthy shudders through nearly any other vehicle are met with an impregnable solidity. There's no other way to describe it besides 'astonishing.'" -- Autoblog
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2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

MSRP: $124,500 - $147,500

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