The US loves luxury SUVs, and there are few more intimidating interpretations of the concept than the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The G-Class has become an icon worldwide for its bold styling, luxury interiors, and connection to the Russian mob. The G550 is a standalone model, and while it might not carry the AMG badge, it still offers a massively capable and luxurious package. Under the hood, the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 delivers a massive 416 horsepower, which is effortlessly put to the dirt via a 4MATIC AWD system and a nine-speed auto transmission.
The Mercedes G-Wagon offers a premium interior and lots of standard features but can't hide that it is still a heavy box on wheels. The Jeep Wrangler can match it off-road for a fraction of the price, and the Land Rover Range Rover also offers stiff competition. Can this time capsule still cut it in 2021?
The 2021 Mercedes Benz G-Class SUV fundamentally remains unchanged for 2021. Still, Mercedes-Benz now offers a massive list of exterior paint colors, a new set of optional 20-inch wheels, and two new exterior styling packages named Night Package magno and AMG Night Package magno. The interior also benefits from a newly standard 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster. One smaller update is that the spare wheel cover ring can be finished in Night Black magno as an option.
See trim levels and configurations:
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
The G-Class has to be one of the most iconic SUVs of all time, and despite its age, it still manages to look good. The best way to describe the look of the G-Class is as "a brick on wheels." With large 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a prominent bash bar, and a rear-mounted spare wheel, the G-Class manages to look slick and rugged at the same time. Optional extras include 20-inch AMG multispoke wheels, a black brush guard, Night Black Magno exterior accents, and an AMG styling package that adds wider fender flares and chrome trim elements.
The G550 is classified as a mid-size four-wheel drive luxury SUV and measures 189.7-inches in length, and rides on a 113.8-inch wheelbase. This all-wheel-drive monster is 86.1 inches wide when you include the wing mirrors and stands 77.5 inches tall. The front track and rear track are both 64.5 inches wide. The Mercedes G-Class has a minimum ground clearance of 9.5 inches, which, combined with a relatively short wheelbase, gives it excellent off-road capability. The approach, break-over, and departure angles measure 30, 28, and 31 degrees, respectively. With those ample dimensions, it's no surprise that the G550 SUV tips the scales at 5,554 pounds.
The 2021 Mercedes G Wagon is far from being a rudimentary off-road vehicle and can be considered a modern style icon, and what do all style icons need? A massive wardrobe, of course! For 2021, Mercedes-Benz offers the G-Class in an enormous array of colors. There are 23 standard factory colors to choose from, and G Manufaktur adds another 14 exclusive colors to the palette. No-cost color options include Magnetite Black metallic, Rubellite Red metallic, and Mojave Silver metallic. Extra-cost colors that caught our eye include designo Diamond White metallic for $2,300 and designo Platinum Magno (matte) for $3,950. The G Manufaktur range includes exclusive options such as Jupiter Red, South Sea Blue metallic, Sea Blue metallic, and Desert Sand, all of which go for $6,500 each.
You won't find an AMG badge on the back of the G550, but that doesn't mean that this German bruiser is short on power; in fact, it will leave most hot hatches in the dust from a launch and offers masses of mid-range power. Under the hood of the G-Class is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to a 4MATIC AWD system, the G-Class will catapult to sixty miles per hour in only 5.6 seconds, which is about as fast as a 2000 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning, and will barrel on to a limited top speed of 130 mph. Figures aside, the G-Class' real party trick is its off-road capability; this thing will go where few others dare, and only vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler genuinely stand a chance of keeping up with it. The G-Class also has an impressive towing capacity of 7,000 lbs. The only thing keeping this SUV from being an excellent all-rounder is its price tag and the fact that the majority of owners will never touch a dirt road in one of these.
Unde the chiseled hood of the G550, you'll find a burly 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 gas engine that churns out a serious 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to an impressive 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission. Combined with a 4MATIC AWD system, the G550 launches from the line with surprising enthusiasm and keeps pulling cleanly past 6,000 rpm, all the while emitting a sonorous bark from the tailpipes. There's lots of low-down pull for city driving, but the G550 really shines on the highway, where it will gladly overtake any car at the mere suggestion of throttle input. The nine-speed transmission is well suited to this engine and adapts effortlessly to whatever mood the driver might be in. For those that appreciate a bit more involvement, steering-wheel-mounted paddles allow one to select gears manually.
No one will ever expect the body-on-frame G-Class to be a canyon-carving sports car, and it sure as hell isn't, but it has come leaps and bounds since the original utilitarian versions first came out. Seeing as these cars will spend the majority of their time in cities and suburbs, it is good to note that low-speed comfort is excellent: the G-Class will soak up road imperfections like it's nobody's business, and at higher speeds, it feels planted and refined (just don't mind the wind noise). Throw this boxy behemoth into a set of corners with too much speed, and you'll be met with understeer and body roll. Those who want a more dynamic experience can opt for the available adaptive suspension, but even this system can't entirely hide the fact that the G550 is a tall and heavy SUV. Take this machine off-road, however, and things start to make a whole lot more sense. The G-Wagon loves to crawl over obstacles and displays excellent wheel articulation. With three lockable differentials in play, there always seems to be grip in one corner or the other. For sandy conditions, there is a Desert Mode accessible via the Dynamic Select controller. The brakes in the G-Class are considerable and offer good all-around performance. The G-Class isn't a ballerina, but it ain't a bull in a China shop either.
With a brick wall's aerodynamic characteristics and a 416-horsepower V8 under the hood, the G550 never stood a chance. The EPA rates that this German SUV will manage 17/19/18 mpg city/highway/combined, but real-world driving will see those numbers drop, especially when you get addicted to the glorious shove of torque on offer. To give the G550 a somewhat decent range, Mercedes-Benz has fitted it with a large 26.4-gallon fuel tank, allowing this Black Forest Bear to travel up to 475 miles.
Despite being the cheapest G-Class vehicle on sale for 2021, the G550 offers an impeccably crafted interior that reeks of class and sophistication. The interior is flush with leather, wood, and alloy trimmings and is a far cry from the original G-Class cars. Those going for the AMG model will be hard-pressed to find any significant changes in the build quality of these two interiors, and the layout of most major controls is precisely the same. There's ample space for larger occupants, and the trunk size is good too. Each G550 comes with luxuries such as tri-zone automatic climate control and heated power-adjustable front seats. Optional extras include Nappa leather upholstery and ventilated front seats.
The G-Class can be an intimidating thing to get in and out of. Unlike its crossover siblings, the G-Class is a properly lifted thing that sits high off the ground, so shorter occupants will have to make use of the side-steps to avoid a potentially nasty fall. Once inside, however, the G550 offers a ton of interior space and seating for five adults. Legroom and headroom are good enough for six-footers in the front and back. Visibility is good, and the driver enjoys a commanding view of the road, but that cool-looking spare wheel at the back naturally obstructs rear visibility. Both the driver and front passenger enjoy power seats with ten-way adjustability.
As with the exterior, Mercedes-Benz offers tons of custom colors and materials for the G550, including a wide range of G Manufaktur options. The standard leather upholstery options come at no extra cost to the buyer and include colors like Black, Nut Brown/Black, and Macchiato Beige/Black. Still, color combinations such as Classic Red/Black require selecting the Exclusive Interior package for $5,000, which adds Nappa leather, a Dinamica headliner, and other embellishments to the cabin. Diamond pattern leather seats need the buyer to fork out an extra $12,200 for the Exclusive Interior Package Plus, adding multi contour front seats and more. G Manufaktur options include Black with Yacht Blue topstitching and Black with Lime Green topstitching. These options require one to select the G Manufaktur Interior Package for an additional $8,100. Trim options include Natural Grain Walnut wood, Light Brown Sen wood, and the most expensive option is the AMG carbon fiber trim for $3,700.
With a square body design, the G550 naturally offers impressive cargo space. The G-Class provides a generous 38.1 cubic feet of space behind the second row, which is more than enough to fit one and a half defectors. Pop down the 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and you get a sizable 68.6 cubic feet of space, which is slightly less than what you get in the Land Rover Range Rover, another brilliantly practical luxury SUV. Small items can be stored in the center console storage bin, glove box, and there's even a tiny nook in the front console for a phone or set of keys. There are two cupholders in the front, and all doors feature decently-sized door pockets.
At the price you're paying for one of these luxury German bricks, one would expect a pretty impressive list of standard features. The good news is that you do: the 550 offers standard heated leather seats (both rows are heated) with front 10-way power-adjustability with seat memory, and driver's side steering and mirror memory, three-zone automatic climate control, a 64-color LED interior lighting system, heat and noise-insulated glass, a power-adjustable steering column, auto-dimming mirrors, and a universal garage door opener. Standard driver aids include active brake assist, attention assist, adaptive cruise control, speed limit assist, blind-spot assist, rear-cross traffic alert, and trailer stability assist. Optional extras on offer include a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and Nappa leather upholstery.
What would a G-Class be without a banging sound system? The standard Burmester sound system includes 15 high-quality speakers, a 590-watt, 10-channel digital amplifier, and sounds excellent when jamming Hot Drum by Joyride. That's not where the Merc's comprehensive multi-media offering begins and ends, of course. The 2021 G550 offers its occupants an impressive infotainment system that features a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch infotainment display. The large 12.3-inch screen offers crisp and clear images, but the Command touchpad control system can be challenging to use when on the move. The infotainment system offers standard navigation with no-charge map updates for three years, three years of live traffic info, Bluetooth streaming, dual USB audio ports, HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio with a six-month all-access trial, voice control, an SD card reader, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. TuneIn Radio and in-car Wi-Fi are optional extras.
While the 2021 Mercedes-Benz G-Class has no recalls, the 2020 model suffered from three. A differential locking module malfunction, misprinted labels for the child safety lock on the rear doors, and a failure of the eCall system which could delay the response of emergency workers were the culprits. Mercedes-Benz offers a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty which includes corrosion protection, a roadside assistance plan, and a drivetrain warranty for the same amount of time/distance.
The G-Class is yet to undergo an IIHS review or NHTSA crash test, but with a front crash bar, ten airbags, and the weight and shape of the Great Wall of China, you should be pretty safe in case of an accident.
Although there hasn't been an official Mercedes-Benz G-Class safety review, the big SUV comes packed with a ton of standard safety features. Basics include ten airbags (including dual front knee airbags and side curtain airbags for both rows), electronic stability control, and the Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call system. Active brake assist, speed limit assist, attention assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot assist, rear trailer stability assist, adaptive high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, active lane-keep assist, a rearview camera, and pre-safe are all standard.
There are way more efficient ways to get a luxury SUV experience, but the G-Class has transcended its contemporary competition and is considered an icon, free from the clutches of progress and politically correct agendas. The G-Class exterior hasn't changed much in decades but still manages to look cool, especially with the optional AMG wheels, and gets modern tech such as adaptive high beam assist. Inside, the G-Class offers a truly premium experience and features a rich wood and leather interior, which can be upgraded to feature tons of carbon fiber or aluminum trimmings. Interior features such as tri-zone climate control and optional massage seats demonstrate the caliber of the car you're dealing with. There is ample power on offer under the hood thanks to a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that punches out 416 hp. The G-Class has not been crash-tested but comes with all the modern safety amenities, and its improved infotainment system is also on par with the competition. It might cost an arm and a leg, but you buy a G-Class for more than its features or capabilities; you buy it for the image it affords you.
You're going to pay dearly for the privilege of driving around a large turbocharged V8 box on wheels. The new G-Class SUV goes for an MSRP of $131,750 in the USA, excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,050. You can buy nearly five Jeep Wranglers for the price of a Mercedes G-Class. If we were buying, we'd get one in Silver, with the AMG Line Night Package Plus package. On the interior side, we'd go for the metal weave trim with black leather and the $2,220 Seat Comfort Package. Total cost? $141,190.
The G550 is a standalone Mercedes-Benz G-Class model in the US, reviewed separately from the manic G63. It features a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 engine with 416 hp, sent to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The exterior features standard LED headlights, side steps, tinted windows, and adaptive high beams. On the inside, the G550 offers standard luxury equipment such as tri-zone automatic climate control, heated leather seats with ten-way power-adjustable power seats in the front, 64-color LED ambient lighting, keyless access, a 12.3-inch digital cluster display, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The 12.3-inch infotainment screen provides access to Bluetooth streaming, SiriusXM radio, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto integration, two USB ports, and a Burmester surround-sound system with a built-in subwoofer. Standard active driver assistance systems include attention assist, rear cross-traffic assist, adaptive high beam assist, active brake assist, speed limit assist, blind-spot assist, rear trailer stability assist, and pre-safe.
From the exterior all the way to the type of steering wheel, the G-Class is highly customizable. On the outside, the most expensive package you can go for is the AMG Line styling package with the Night Package Plus add-on. This $7,220 option adds features such as 20-inch AMG multispoke wheels with black accents, Obsidian Black exterior accents, a sport exhaust system, a black brush guard, and a sport steering wheel. The interior is offered with the impressive but expensive G Manufaktur Interior Package Plus, which adds Nappa leather, a Dinamica headliner, exclusive interior appointments, active multi-contour front seats with massage functionality, rapid heating for the front seats, and front-seat ventilation. This upgrade will cost you $13,050. Furthermore, new owners can select an adaptive suspension for $1,400.
With so many options on offer, it is rare that you'll ever find two of the same G-Class SUVs. The exterior alone offers a massive combination of color and wheel combinations and a host of AMG parts. The interior is the same story: the G Manufaktur options list is extensive and can set you back quite a lot of cash if you want to go for the most premium package. At least there's only one trim to choose from and one powertrain, which makes things a tad more simple. We'd suggest going for a black one with exclusive Nappa leather and diamond stitching in your favorite color. There are several different wheel designs to choose from, one being the 20-inch AMG wheels with black accents - just be aware that like several other upgrades, this one requires you to add numerous expensive packages.
These two SUVs come from two very different worlds. Sure, the G-Class used to be a utilitarian off-road machine, but it is a dedicated luxury vehicle nowadays, whereas the Wrangler is a purpose-built off-roading weapon. Both cars are incredibly competent off-road, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is powered by a 470-hp 6.4-liter V8 engine. Power is sent to all fours via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Jeep is a performance match, and is less refined on the open road, but is just as easy to live with in town. The Jeep's interior is miles apart from the G-Class and is focused on taking lots of abuse. Tech levels in the Jeep are also not as impressive as the Mercedes-Benz, and standard safety features don't come close to the German. Off-road, however, the Wrangler offers healthy competition and is still one of the best off-roaders out of the box that money can buy. Speaking of money, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 starts from only $73,500 instead of $131,750 for the G550. Get whatever your budget allows for.
Both these cars sit at the top of the Luxury SUV food chain and enjoy a cult following around the globe. The Range Rover offers several engine options, starting with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 diesel that produces 254 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. We are more interested in the 3.0-liter inline-six with a mild-hybrid system that develops 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. This combo is suitable for a gas mileage figure of 19/25/21 mpg on the city/highway/combined: so less power, but more efficiency. On the road, the Range Rover is arguably the more comfortable car to drive but is no athlete in the corners, and off-road, it will stick with the G-Class on most trails, but its lower break-over angle will limit it eventually. The Range Rover interior is one of the best in its class, and we prefer its simplistic old-world charm. The interior is spacious, and the front seats offer more adjustability. Cargo space is almost on par with the Merc, give or take a few cubic feet. Standard features are also comparable, but the Range Rover's infotainment system is not as good as that of the G550. The Range Rover starts at only $92,000 but tops out at an incredible $211,000, giving you a wide range of options. We'd go with the Range Rover.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Mercedes-Benz G-Class: