Adding a new and more capable member to its existing G-Class family, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4x42 has been confirmed for the U.S. Formally pronounced as “four by four squared,” deliveries on this extreme off-road variation on the automaker’s legendary “Gelaendewagen” are set for early next year. While final specs are pending, Mercedes has announced a few facts about what we can expect when it does arrive.

Bred for adventure

While slightly less intense than the ultra-limited run Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6 that rolled onto the scene in 2013 but was never sold here, Mercedes says its new G550 4x4will be the most capable non-military production G-Wagen ever. Power for the G550 4x42  comes from the same 416-horse/4.0-liter Biturbo V8 found in the standard Mercedes-Benz G550 that also makes 450 lb-ft of torque and is backed by a 7GTronic Plus 7-speed automatic transmission. Here, too, the G-Wagen’s sophisticated permanent all-wheel-drive system features three (front/center/rear) fully-locking differentials, a basic 50/50 torque split, an advanced 4ETS electronic traction control system and a dual-range transfer case.

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Beyond its more aggressive styling, the most notable differences between the G550 and the G550 4x42 lie in the axles and suspension. This more adventurous variation on the G theme uses a custom chassis featuring dual springs and struts with adjustable dampers plus more robust anti-roll bars and portal axles. Specifically designed for demanding off-road applications, portal axles use a series of gears to transfer drive power in a way that allows the axle center and the wheel center to be on two completely different lines. As a result, the ground clearance on the G550 4x42 has been increased to 17.2 inches -- a 7.9-inch bump over the G550 -- while its track dimensions are expanded by roughly 10 inches. In addition to mproved the approach, breakover and departure angles, the changes also allow the G550 4x42 to drive through up to 39.4 inches of water.

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Inside, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4x42 will match typical M-B luxury with a full range of comfort/convenience touches including a Comand infotainment system with an 8.0-inch screen and satellite navigation. No word on pricing yet, but expect it to start somewhere around the current range-topping Mercedes-AMG G65 that currently opens just under $220,000.

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