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Off-Road Royalty

Nate Chapnick | November 26, 2018 | Story Travel

Mercedes-Benz’s updated iconic G-Class SUV proves it is hip to be square. As the longest-running production vehicle in the history of the world’s oldest automobile manufacturer, Mercedes has churned out more than 300,000 G-Class units. Everyone from celebrities and popes to military generals and diplomats have revered the G-Class for its off-road capabilities, solid construction and rugged design. Now, for 2019, Mercedes-Benz expands on these characteristics while making significant improvements to the G’s ride and handling.

Under the hood is a 4.0-liter biturbo V-8 engine that produces 416 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission, the G550 manages to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in around 5.8 seconds—not bad for a rugged truck weighing well over an estimated 2 1⁄2 tons. An independent front suspension improves ride quality, while an electromechanical rack and pinion steering system lets drivers tailor the steering characteristics to their liking, from comfort to sport modes. While the “G-Wagon” will never be a track star, these modifications make everyday driving more enjoyable, without detracting from its exceptional off-road capability.

Thankfully, Mercedes designers retained the G-Class’ classic boxy shape for the 2019 model. Big and bold, the G-Class is now just over 2 inches longer and 3 inches wider than its predecessor. Up front, large round LED headlights incorporate two half-circle graphics for daytime operation, while the signal indicators remain uniquely planted above the lights on the front fenders. Mercedes also retained the G’s legendary door handles and kept the spare tire attached to the rear door. Even with the new underpinnings, the SUV screams adventure.

The G550’s interior underwent a dramatic redesign, making the G-Class more luxurious and more technologically advanced than ever before. A new center console incorporates gorgeous aviation-inspired vents and climate controls borrowed from the E-Class and the S-Class. The steering wheel incorporates touch-sensitive controls, which respond to swiping inputs similar to that of a smartphone, allowing drivers to control the full 12.3-inch infotainment system without taking their hands off the wheel. There’s also more room to spread out, with front legroom increasing by 1 1⁄2 inches and rear legroom jumping a whopping 6 inches.

Look for the 2019 G550 to arrive at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer before December, with a price expected to start around $125,000.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G550

Base Price: $125,000, est.
Engine: 4.0-liter biturbo V-8
Transmission: 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic
Horsepower: 416 hp @ 5,250 rpm
Torque: 450 lb.-ft. @ 5,250 rpm
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 79.5 cu. ft. est.
City Fuel Economy: 14 mpg est.
Highway Fuel Economy: 16 mpg est.
Weight: 5,500 lbs., est.
0 TO 60 MPH: 5.8 seconds, est.
Top Speed: 130 mph
Fab Features: Door locks that sound like a bank vault sealing. Three locking differentials for go-anywhere capability. Unmistakable adventure design

Originally published in the October/November issue of Silicon Valley

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