UPDATE: We've driven this SUV, so check out our new G-Class review

With a new Jeep Wrangler appearing soon in showrooms and a new Land Rover Defender expected to appear sometime in 2018, Mercedes-Benz isn’t about to neglect its own go-anywhere mountain goat. Thus an updated G-Class will make its world debut at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in January.

Mercedes lifted the wraps somewhat, showing off the interior of its redesigned SUV flagship ahead of the reveal.

Like the Wrangler and the Defender, the G-Class (nee: Gelandewagen) has militaristic origins, making its debut in the early 1970s, and acquiring momentum when the then Shah of Iran ordered 20,000 units for his own armed forces. As a major stockholder in Daimler Benz, the Shah was also influential in the vehicle’s 1979 availability on the civilian market.

While all three vehicles have military heritage, the G-Class has one major difference. The least expensive version of this rugged go-anywhere Benz—the G550—has a 2017 MSRP of $123,395. And the pricing soars another $100,000 from there. That’s obviously luxury territory, and the Mercedes focus for the G-Class update is enhancing its luxo quotient.

Also: Check out the latest news from the Detroit Auto Show

Haptic controls

For example, a new steering wheel is equipped with controls for the expanded infotainment systems that respond to pinch and swipe motions. The instrument panel is also new, and includes the option of virtual gauges that can be pre-configured in three operating modes—Classic, Sport, and Progressive.

A 7-speaker audio system is standard, and a 590-watt, 16-speaker premium Burmeister system is on the option list. Interior trim continues to be top notch—Lugano leather, wood trim with exposed grain, as well as metal and/or carbon fiber elements.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2019

Room with zoom

But perhaps the most immediately tangible element of the redesigned G-Class is roominess. Front seat legroom has been expanded by 1.5-inches, and rear seat legroom stretches by a surprising 5.9 inches, with corresponding gains in shoulder and elbow room, as well as more cargo room.

How Mercedes achieved these substantial gains is not clear; the company’s press release makes no mention of chassis changes. There may be further revelations at January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Chassis changes notwithstanding, the 2019 G-Class is expected to be mechanically unchanged from the current version—a choice of three V8 engines (two from Mercedes AMG hot rod shop); 7-speed automatic transmission locking differentials front, center, and rear; ground clearance ranging from 8.3 to 17.7 inches; and fording depths ranging up to 39.4 inches. The new G-Class will make its showroom debut in 2018, as a 2019 model.

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