By KBB.com Editors
While not as racy as the newest GL-Class, or in the running to win any awards for aerodynamic efficiency, there is no denying the ability of the G-Class Benz to make a lasting impression. Big, boxy and about as modern as a dial-up phone, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz G500's military roots serve it well, especially when it comes to off-road capability. Aftermarket manufacturers have a wide assortment of chrome accents and big wheels, allowing the discerning G500 driver to personalize his or her vehicle in ways the original designers could never have imagined. But be warned: Though priced similarly to a Land Rover Range Rover, the G500 does not return the same refined ride or quiet cabin.You'll Like This Car If...
If you like your SUVs to look rugged and adventurous (think Hummer), you'll appreciate the old-school styling of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz G500, and millionaire off-roaders will love this vehicle's ability to climb, descend and overtake.You May Not Like This Car If...
The G500's styling is far from design's cutting edge, and interior noise levels and ride comfort lag behind those of the Land Rover Range Rover and Cadillac Escalade.What's New for 2008
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz G-Class receives a new instrument cluster, rear-view camera, steering wheel and tail-light design.Driving It Driving Impressions
Power for the G500 comes from the Mercedes-Benz dynamo of a V8, the 292-horsepower 5.0-liter engine. A strong contender in any field, the 5.0-liter seems to possess unending reserves of low-end torque that make the G500 move as quickly and responsively as an M-Class. The G-Class needs this much power because it is almost literally built like a tank (or at least an armored personnel carrier), and weighs just over 5,500 pounds. This immense bulk is one of the contributing factors to keeping the G500 planted firmly on the ground, both on and off-road. The G500 features an advanced four-wheel-drive system that is permanently engaged. Once off-road, you can place the two-speed transfer case into low and have plenty of power and traction to deal with surprisingly steep grades and rugged terrain. Three buttons on the center dash allow you further control by permitting the front, center and rear differentials to be locked, either all at once or in random order.Favorite Features
If you've got to have the most expensive SUV on the market, you should at least get something extra-special for the cost. A 493-horsepower AMG-tweaked engine qualifies.
Sculpted Bucket Seats
Sculpted bucket seats help keep the driver and passengers in place when the off-roading gets tough.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz G500's upright design translates to an uncommonly roomy interior, with more than ample head, leg and hip room for passengers and generous storage space for their cargo. Mercedes has added a 21st-century touch to the dash and door panels by covering them in soft leather and real wood; likewise, the angular dash is somewhat softened by the installation of the COMAND system's LCD screen and the rounded speedometer and instrument gauges. You'll find the G500's seats to be very tall and upright and somewhat firm, in traditional Mercedes fashion. The rear seats are split in a 60/40 configuration and can be folded and flipped to provide more cargo room.Exterior
Originally designed for use as a military vehicle, the G-Class found its way to U.S. shores to serve civilian duty as the Mercedes-Benz off-road flagship. Though the design may be old (over 28 years, in fact), the vehicle's remarkable robustness, with thicker-than-average sheet metal and hand-built construction, has allowed it to sail through every government crash test with flying colors.Notable Standard Equipment
The G500 comes with permanent four-wheel drive, seven-speed automatic transmission, locking differentials (center, front and rear), stability control, traction control, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, COMAND system with harman/kardon audio and navigation, rear park assist, rear-view camera, 10-way power heated leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated windshield, bi-xenon headlamps and a rear wiper/washer.Notable Optional Equipment
Other than some dealer-installed upgrades, there are no major options for the G-Class.Under the Hood
The base 5.0-liter V8 has plenty of torque, an attribute more important than horsepower, given the G500's ponderous bulk. Acceleration is strong but falls off somewhat at highway speeds. The AMG version, with its supercharged 5.5-liter engine, is more likely to get you in trouble with the law, and can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 5.5 seconds.
292 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
336 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/15
5.5-liter V8 Supercharged
493 horsepower @ 6100 rpm
516 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/13
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz G500's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $87,000, while the G55 AMG starts around $111,000. That's a bit less than the Land Rover Ranger Rover, but significantly more than the Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. A look at the kbb.com Fair Purchase Price shows little wiggle room at the negotiation table, with most models selling at or slightly above MSRP. Over a five-year period, the G500 should hold strong projected residual values for its segment, better than the Lincoln Navigator but just slightly above the Land Rover Range Rover and Cadillac Escalade.