New 2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG G-Class SUV New 2018
Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG G-Class SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG G-Class is the extreme version of what is already Mercedes’ most extreme SUV. The G-Class is made for serious off-roading thanks to hardware like triple-locking differentials and a truck-like frame. Initially made for military duty, today you’re more likely to see Mercedes’ flagship SUV in the hands of a celebrity rather than a soldier. Still, proving no vehicle can’t be blessed by Mercedes’ high-performance division, AMG takes the standard G-Class (reviewed separately) to new heights. The G 63 boasts a 563-horsepower, hand-built V8, while the nearly $225,000 G 65 packs a monstrous V12. Rivals are few, but among them the Bentley Bentayga matches cylinders and has a far more comfortable ride, while an all-new G-Class is set to arrive next year.

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You'll Like This SUV If...

If you want the ultimate combination of luxury, power and off-road capability, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG G-Class is a machine like no other. In G 65 form, it is one of only two V12 SUVs on the market (the other being the Bentayga), and easily the most off-road capable.

You May Not Like This SUV If...

The flip sides of the Mercedes-AMG G-Class’ extreme capabilities off-pavement are a harsher ride quality and less on-pavement dynamics than a Porsche Cayenne. A Bentley Bentayga is more comfortable and faster, too.

What's New for 2018

With an all-new G-Class set to go on sale in late 2018, changes are few to this existing model. Among them are two new exterior paint colors and the AMG Performance Studio Package available on the G 63 model.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The Mercedes G-Wagen is already something of a juxtaposition: an SUV with hardcore off-road ability, yet still capable of swift acceleration. That’s what happens when you stuff a powerful engine under the hood. With the AMG models, Mercedes’ G-Class is even more extreme. The G 63 can blast from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, a half-second quicker than the standard Mercedes-Benz G 550 (reviewed separately). You’d think 563 horsepower would be enough, but for those times when it’s not, the G 65 comes packing a V12 with 621 horsepower and gargantuan 738 lb-ft of torque. In reality, the extra power is more about bragging rights: It’s only a tenth of a second quicker to 60 mph. Beyond sheer power, both high-performance G-Class variants benefit from AMG-enhanced brakes, suspension and other hardware. The laws of physics still apply, and even these tricked-out models won’t hang with a Porsche in the turns. But when the pavement ends they retain the ability go where others can’t.

Favorite Features

UNAPOLOGETIC ATTITUDE
While most luxury SUVs only hint softly at their off-road ability, the 2018 G-Class screams it proudly from the highest peak. You won’t find a sedan-like ride or ultra-quiet cabin in this high-performance adventure SUV, but you will find a beast that creates envy from Malibu to Moab.

V12-POWERED AMG G 65
The idea of wedding the track-performance genius of AMG with a nearly 40-year-old SUV might seem like lunacy, but we like it. The twin-turbocharged V12 provides more power than any off-roader could ever want while upping the exclusivity factor to 11.

Vehicle Details

Interior

Though brutish on the outside, the 5-passenger interior of the Mercedes-AMG G-Class is another story. This is still a Mercedes, after all. Its cabin is almost entirely handcrafted, featuring premium leather on 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, 8-inch tablet-style command screen). Unique AMG distinctions can be found in the steering wheel and nubby gear shifter. 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 over 75 with them folded.

Exterior

While even Range Rovers have softened their lines, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class retains the boxy, upright look it has had for decades. Aerodynamic it's not, but the G-Wagen's design is honest, masculine and pragmatic. These AMG variants stand out with their body styling elements like side sills, a unique front bumper and polished exhaust outlets that peek out the side in front of the rear wheels. At just 187.5 inches long, the G is actually shorter than the Mercedes GLE midsize SUV. Instead of an upward-rising tailgate, the G-Wagen has a big, old-school swing-out door. LED daytime running lights, electrically folding mirrors and a digital instrument cluster add touches of modern, but for the most part the G remains the boxy beast it's always been. You’ll either be enthralled or repelled by its machismo.

Notable Standard Equipment

For the roughly $145,000 base price, the Mercedes-AMG G 63 includes a handcrafted V8 engine and a roster of off-road hardware like a 2-speed transfer case and front, rear and center locking differentials. While those terrain-conquering features may never be used, other features like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and the brake-hold feature likely will. Other amenities include Nappa leather upholstery, sunroof, front seats that are heated and ventilated, heated rear seats and dual-zone climate control. The 8-inch infotainment system bundles navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a 12-speaker/450-watt harman/kardon audio system.

Notable Optional Equipment

In addition to four more cylinders and much more bragging rights, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG G 65 adds 21-inch wheels, AMG sport front seats and diamond-pattern leather upholstery. Options for both models include a heated steering wheel, rear-seat entertainment system and a variety of exterior and interior accents. Several packages are also available, including the AMG Night Package that makes the G-Class even more menacing with darkened exterior elements. If in-car Wi-Fi is on your wish list, opt for the mbrace Entertain package.

Under the Hood

Have we mentioned that the Mercedes-AMG G-Class has a choice of high-powered, hand-built engines? To recap, the G 63 uses a twin-turbo V8, while the big-dog G 65 packs a twin-turbo V12. Each transmits its prodigious power via an AMG-enhanced 7-speed automatic transmission. For all its high-performance attributes, the Mercedes-AMG G-Class is a real-deal off-roader with low-range gearing, and front, rear and center locking differentials. Ironically, the G 63 has a tow rating of 7,700 pounds like the standard G-Class, but the V12 G 65 is rated at 7,000 pounds. As you might guess (and probably don’t care), fuel efficiency isn’t exactly robust. In fact, it’s pretty miserable. The G 63 attempts some miserliness with an engine start/stop system that cuts power at idle, but it still can’t break 15 mpg on the EPA scale. The G 65 tops out at 13 mpg.

5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (G 63)
563 horsepower @ 5,500
561 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,250
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/15 mpg

6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 (G 65)
621 horsepower @ 5,000-5,300 rpm
738 lb-ft of torque @ 2,300-4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/13 mpg

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Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2018 Mercedes-AMG G-Class luxury SUV starts at $143,795 for the G 63 -- nearly $20,000 beyond the standard G 550. Adding four cylinders for the V12-powered G 65 is significantly more, with that top-line G-Wagen starting just shy of $225,000. Exclusivity and power have their price. At these figures, the Mercedes-AMG G-Class is one of the most expensive SUVs you can buy -- more than a variety of high-end SUVs that range from the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover Autobiography to the Tesla Model X. Still, it’s not quite the most expensive. The Bentley Bentayga ultra-luxury SUV has a bottom line that starts north of $230,000. In the years to come, expect more ultimate SUV rivals from the likes of Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce. For now, make sure you check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to get an idea of what you should be paying. The Mercedes-AMG G-Class’ resale value is predicted to be good for the G 63 and only fair for the G 65.

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