One word best describes the Mercedes-Benz G-Class: extreme. Fit for use as a military vehicle, the 2014 G-Class is among the most capable SUVs ever created. Affectionately called the "G-Wagen," from the German Gelandewagen ("cross-country car"), it is rugged to the max, boasting three locking differentials and the ability to climb or descend an incredible 80-percent incline. Inside, though, Mercedes' ultimate off-roader is as luxurious as you'd expect for an SUV costing over $115,000. Like the Range Rover or a high-end Porsche Cayenne, most buyers will never use their G-Wagen to a fraction of its capabilities. But such rationale matters little. For this elite set, the reason to own a Mercedes G is much like the vehicle itself: It's all about being extreme.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you want an ultra-tough yet lavish 5-passenger SUV with disregard to fuel efficiency or price, the Mercedes-Benz G550 or the even more exorbitant G63 AMG version is ready to command your – and everyone else's – attention.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If sedan-like comfort or combined fuel economy greater than 13 mpg are motivating factors in your purchase, the G-Class's overall excess will pose a conflict. An Audi Q5, Mercedes M-Class or BMW X5 offers kinder road manners and better fuel economy (especially diesel models) at less than half the cost.
No major changes have been made to the 2014 Mercedes G-Wagen after it received a new interior and an enhanced exterior last year.
Driving the G-Class
By its rough and rugged looks alone you can accurately surmise that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz G550 SUV isn't a corner-carver. Its raised center of gravity and weight in excess of...
... 5,500 pounds disqualify this ultra-premium SUV from turning on a dime, though its steering and brake feel are refined and of top-quality. For its bulk, the G-Wagen is surprisingly quick in a straight line. Its V8 engine enables the G550 to hit 60 mph in about six seconds, while the twin-turbocharged version in the AMG version launches the G63 to that mark in an estimated 5.3 seconds. In highway and around-town driving the G-Class feels easier to manage than you might expect. Though it's far more likely to roam Beverly Hills, where the G-Class truly excels is far off the beaten path. Few owners will use it as thus, but the G-Class remains an extremely formidable off-road machine.
SCULPTED FRONT BUCKET SEATS Whether you're navigating the urban jungle or a real one, the front seats in the Mercedes-Benz G550 and G63 AMG make an excellent command center. They offer versatile adjustment options and a firm grip.
THE AMG VERSION If you're already willing to spend the $115,000 it takes to get into a G-Wagen, what's another $20,000 and change? Step up and you'll get a voracious biturbo V8 that makes 536 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque, vs. the 382/391 figures of the naturally aspirated model.
2014 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Details
Though brutish on the outside, the G-Class's interior is another story. This is still a Mercedes, after all, and a 6-figure one at that. Its cabin is almost entirely handcrafted and features premium leather that covers the seats and dash. Polished wood and chrome accents abound. Controls are a fine mix of utilitarian (the three prominent locking-differential buttons displayed front and center) and elegant (a crisp, 7-inch tablet-style command screen). The G's squared shape means headroom is practically unlimited, but taller occupants may wish for more legroom. Cargo capacity is generous: over 45 cubic feet behind the 2nd-row seats and nearly 80 with them folded.
While even Range Rovers have softened their lines over the years, the latest Mercedes-Benz G-Class retains the boxy, upright look that has made it recognizable for decades. Aerodynamic it's not, but the G-Wagen's design is honest, masculine and pragmatic thanks to the interior roominess it affords. At just 184.5 inches long, the G is actually shorter than the Mercedes M-Class SUV. Last year's updates that included LED daytime running lights, electrically folding mirrors and a fresh grille for the AMG version add touches of modern, but for the most part the G remains the boxy beast it's always been. You're likely to either be enthralled or repelled by its machismo.
Both the G550 and the even more loaded G63 are stuffed with amenities and capability. Included in each model are leather and wood interior, navigation, rearview camera and 12-speaker/450-watt harman/kardon AM/FM/CD/DVD audio system with HD Radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and USB input. Other features include heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and power-folding side mirrors. AMG models add richer designo leather, 20-inch wheels, high-performance brakes and sport exhaust pipes that peek out the sides. Enabling the G-Wagen's off-road prowess are permanent all-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case and three lockable differentials (center, rear and front).
The 2014 G-Class is stuffed to the gills in standard form, and being a low-volume vehicle it doesn't have the usual list of options and packages like most other Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Customers who want further exclusivity can get it with Mercedes' designo selection of exterior color schemes and interior trims. Also available are subscriptions to mbrace, Mercedes' suite of mobile apps, concierge and other services.
Under the Hood
Two V8 engine choices are available in the 2014 G-Class. The G550 uses a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 5.5-liter V8 that makes a robust 382 horsepower, while the G63 AMG ups the ante with a twin-turbocharged version that makes a thundering 536 horsepower. Both models feature permanent all-wheel drive and use a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for those who want control of shift points. The AMG version features an Eco Start/Stop function, which cuts the engine at idle to save fuel. Both models of the G-Class are rated to return just 13 mpg combined and use premium gasoline. Towing capacity for both models is commendable at 7,000 pounds.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is just over $115,000 for the G550 and tops $136,000 for the G63 AMG. At these prices, the G-Class is among the highest-priced SUVs available. Rivals at these price points include the Porsche Cayenne Turbo (roughly $111,000) and Cayenne Turbo S ($147,000), and Autobiography editions of the Land Rover Range Rover ($136,000). If you're among the select group of buyers in the market for a G-Wagen, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying before sealing the deal. As for resale value, we expect the G-Class to retain its value better than the Range Rover but not as well as the Porsche Cayenne, which last year was crowned as Best Luxury Mid-Size SUV/Crossover in Kelley Blue Book's Best Resale Value Awards.
Pros: "Absolute power, great retro look, tank like build"
Cons: "uncomfortable, high maintenance bills"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I had this car for 6 years before I sold it. I can easily say it tops the list as one of the most powerful SUV's I have driven. It is based on a 30 year old design, but I think they follow the motto that goes: "if it ain't broken, don't fix it".
Engine sounds like a beast, and that is exactly how the car drives too. Absolutely stable for such a car of its size, that is also shaped like a brick.
Handling is surprisingly good, but the sell off is here. It is built like a tank, and is as uncomfortable as one. The suspension is so stiff, you will feel like you worked out after long drives. This car is very uncomfortable, don't let the Benz badge misguide you other wise.
The final painful part that pushed me to sell was the post warranty maintenance. You will see some bills that are relevant to the price of this car. Don't be shocked to get $5000 bills. I had to fix AC, Supercharger, and coils, the bills stacked up and it just made sense to sell the car than keep paying."
"This is the 3rd G-wagen I have: 1994, 2004, 2009 G55AMG. Total mileage I had on 1994 - 120000 mi, 2004 - 212000 mi and on 2009 now is about 100000 mi. Only minor problems. This is really one of the most reliable and fun to drive truck."
Pros: "Performance, Style, Fun, Unique, great off-road"
Cons: "price, window regulators fail, ac weak in back"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have a 2002 G wagon that I am just now finally going to be allowed to be pried away from me in order to get a newer one. The vehicle is among the most fun and satisfying to drive of any I have ever owned (a dozen plus cars so far) and I have kept it longer.
- Go anywhere, anytime any weather confidence in a vehicle that is perfectly acceptable for business meetings as well
- Feels different from any other car I've driven, more solid and capable, and decent handling and pickup considering that its a massive SUV weighing over $5K pounds
- Overall quality and reliability has been excellent, I have 120K miles on it with nothing more than regular dealer maintenance, no major failures
- More capable off road with stock rims and tires than my friend's "built" off road vehicles
- Distinct from all the other cookie cutter SUV's out there and UNLIKE a new rover, Escladade or GL is actually a hard-core off road vehicle - one trip on rough road in the others will blow out your poncey air suspension (speaking from experience)
- Rear AC is mediocre
- looks bigger outside than it is inside but still big enough, I'm a size 3xl
- Window regulators are a weak spot and often break, not ok in a $100K car
- the G's don't get the state of the art electronics that the S and GL class do - this is stupid on the part of Mercedes
HOW TO BUY
By a used one (ideally a lease return) from the Benz dealer that qualifies for "certified" status then pay for the extra FACTORY (not aftermarket) warranty that adds up to 3 years and UNLiMITED MILES to the originally warranty, this both saves you 30% on the price of a new one and gets you a perfect car with a better than new car warranty. I'm VERY picky about what I buy and Mercedes has beautiful lease return cars that have been driven gently all the time - the smartest option dollar for dollar on any MB car."