KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/27/2012
Often thought near extinction, the iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class roars into 2013 with a new interior, an external refresh and a new high-performance model. Rumors of its demise have obviously been grossly exaggerated. Affectionately called the "G-Wagen," from the German Gelandewagen ("cross-country car"), this bolt-upright military utility vehicle has found beloved favor with a tiny subset of the especially well off. Its solid construction and luxurious accommodations provide the necessary rationale, but it's all about the attitude. Over the years, Mercedes has refined and improved the G, but never strayed from the classic boxy styling and rugged performance. The Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne may stand as competitors, but there's really nothing like the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 and G63 AMG SUVs.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you get a childlike smirk when you look at the tall, flat-sided, brutally utilitarian 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV, you'll probably love it.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're expecting the big-sedan comfort offered by most modern SUVs, or any kind of normal driving experience, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is not for you.
What's New for 2013
Last year's dropping of the G55 AMG performance model suggested to many the end was near for Mercedes' beloved but quirky G-Class. But no. A facelift, new interior and a better-yet new G63 AMG hyperformance model shows the 2013 Mercedes G-Class is healthy as ever.
Like its predecessors, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 SUV is not exactly a corner carver. Its sheer bulk, its boxiness and tall center of gravity don't let the butch SUV turn on a dime, though the feel of its steering and brakes is refined and top-quality. And it is absolutely giggle-inducing quick in a straight line, especially the new-this-year G63 AMG model, with its quite mad 544 horsepower. Though few G-Wagens will ever see muddy trails or rocky paths, given their hefty prices, the 2013 G-Class is, in fact, a formidable off-road machine. In everyday highway and around-town driving the G-Class feels lighter and easier to manage than you may expect.
SCULPTED BUCKET SEATS
The seats in the Mercedes-Benz G550 and G63 AMG are excellent. They offer versatile adjustment options and a firm grip for the driver.
FLAT WINDOW GLASS
When you think about it, and look closely, and realize how central it is to the G-Class presence, and struggle to come up with any other vehicle that still has it, you realize the dead-flat, un-contoured window glass is what makes the G-Wagen look the way it does.
A 6-figure price demands comfort, quality and modern conveniences inside, no matter what the outside looks like. The G-Class gets a thorough interior rework for 2013, with a new instrument panel, center console and seating surfaces. There is still a utilitarian air, with, for instance, the three individual differential-lock buttons proudly displayed front and center, but the materials and finish are luxury-car perfect. Features include the COMAND system with its rotary controller and LCD monitor, leather seats and sunroof. Headroom is, of course, practically unlimited but taller occupants may wish for more legroom.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV is one of the most immediately recognizable vehicles on or off the road, anywhere in the world. Its tall, narrow stance and dead-flat glass panes are utilitarian in the extreme, and Mercedes has evolved the look of the G-Wagen just enough to make it seem modern while still harkening back to its military roots. For 2013, the grille is new on the G550 and the G63 AMG is itself brand new, and features AMG-look grille and air intakes with wider fender flares and dark-finish 20-inch wheels. Every component of the G-Class screams "solidly built."
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 comes with 4-wheel drive, a 7-speed automatic transmission, three locking differentials, traction and electronic stability control, heated and ventilated power front seats, a rearview camera, and 18-inch wheels.
Notable Optional Equipment
The G-Class is offered with no options, except for the choice of the up-power alternative model, the new-this-year G63 AMG. (Last year's Edition Select Package is gone.) The AMG model gets its own grille, lower air intakes, fender flares and wheels to go with its massive 544 horsepower.
Under the Hood
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 SUV has an impressive 388-horsepower 5.5-liter V8. Those who venture off-road will appreciate its gargantuan 391 lb-ft of torque, which is reached at a low 2,800 rpm. The G550 will accelerate from rest to 60 mph in about six seconds, which is amazing for such a heavy vehicle. But if you want to talk amazing, the new-for-2013 G63 AMG is over the top, with its 544 horsepower turning 0-60 times under 5.5 seconds. Both models use a 7-speed paddle-shifter automatic transmission and full-time 4-wheel drive, with 4-wheel traction control, a 2-speed transfer case and independently lockable center, rear and front differentials. Serious stuff.
388 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
391 lb-ft torque @2,800-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/15 mpg
5.5-liter turbocharged V8
544 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
560 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/14 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 is $113,905. The high-power G63 AMG runs $135,205. There are no options to add. Even in the rarefied air of premium SUVs such as the Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne, this is a hefty sum. Those who fall for the G-Class siren song, however, will be the first to say it's worth it. Don't plan on taking a test drive at your local dealer as most G-Wagens are sold as special orders and finding one on a lot is rare. Still, be sure to visit KBB.com to see our Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area and perhaps elsewhere are paying. Resale values on G-Class models have been relatively strong historically, but the limited production and long-assumed cancellation of the G-Class could impact the long-term value.