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KBB Expert Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By Matt Degen

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class looks, drives and has an attitude different from every other vehicle from the German luxury automaker. The uninitiated may think this $120,000-plus SUV is some sort of upscale Jeep. In reality, this is one of Mercedes’ oldest vehicles, and certainly its most rugged SUV. Initially made for military duty thanks to its resilient build quality and extreme off-road abilities, these days you’re more likely to see the G-Class on Rodeo Drive as a rolling status symbol of the rich and famous. Though its 5-passenger interior is luxurious and boasts plenty of amenities, the G 550’s on-road manners aren’t nearly as refined as those of a Range Rover or a Mercedes-Benz GLE. But for those seeking the ultimate Mercedes-Benz SUV, the G-Class delivers legendary capability and a tough-as-nails charisma.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a luxury SUV with jaw-dropping off-road chops and an image of bravado that few vehicles outside a tank can match, then raise a salute and stand at attention for the Mercedes-Benz G-Class (aka the G-Wagen). The 2018 G 550 is a brute, but it also boasts amenities expected in a 6-figure Mercedes-Benz. AMG models (reviewed separately) notch up the insanity with high-performance engines.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Reality check: Do you really need an SUV with triple-locking differentials, 13-mpg combined fuel economy and the ride quality of, well, a vehicle designed for the military? We get the appeal of driving such an exclusive, luxurious beast. But a Range Rover, Porsche Cayenne or any number of upscale SUVs will deliver far more comfort for far less money.

What's New for 2018

Mercedes’ highly exclusive and mostly hand-built SUV carries over for 2018 with only minor updates. Among them are two new exterior colors -- Orange Metallic and Ocean Blue Metallic -- and a “Red and Black Edition.

Driving It Driving Impressions

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV will take you almost anywhere you want to roam, from a secluded beach to the most remote trailhead in the deepest forest. The caveat is that, if you’re expecting to get to these places in comfort and quiet, that just isn’t gonna happen. Lacking the refinement of the Land Rover Range Rover, the G-Class nevertheless is every bit as capable, and possibly then some. Power for the G 550 is supplied by a twin-turbocharged V8 pumping out 416 ponies, readily available at the tap of the accelerator. The G-Wagen is a lesson in physics, or perhaps a lesson in defying them. Its V8 engine is capable of propelling this nearly 3-ton SUV from 0-60 mph in a mass-defying 5.8 seconds. If you’re buying this for serious off-roading, you probably already know this thing’s potential. For the majority of buyers who will (unfortunately) never leave the asphalt, know that the G-Wagen is no cream puff. Built on a truck-like ladder frame and with sides as slabbed as the Malibu cliffs, its ride tends to be rough, and wind noise only gets louder with speed. A Mercedes-Benz GLE may not have the attitude of the G-Class, but its on-road manners are much more civilized.

Favorite Features

While most luxury SUVs only hint softly at their off-road ability, the 2018 MB G-Class screams it proudly from the highest peak. You won’t find a sedan-like ride or ultra-quiet cabin in the G-Class, but you will find a tenacious off-roader that will make you the envy of the Moab set.

What’s better than one locking diff? Three! We know that most new G-Class buyers will never touch the three switches that sequentially lock the center, rear and front differentials; just know that if you get stuck in the mud escaping the paparazzi, these lockers work like magic in getting a grip.

For vehicle details and pricing notes… Read More
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