by Michael Butler
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 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 Unlimited can match it off-road for a fraction of the price, and the brand-new Land Rover Range Rover also offers stiff competition. Can this time capsule still cut it in 2022?
Not much is changing for the 2022 Mercedes-Benz G-Class and those that were hoping for the new MBUX infotainment system are out of luck. The G still makes do with the old Comand system, even three years after launch and even after all the other Mercedes models have switched over to the feature-rich MBUX. Hinting at the future, of course, is the electric G-Class, the Concept EQG, that was first shown in September 2021. On a level more relatable to a 2022 G-Class buyer in the US, the Professional Line exterior trim package is expected to become available this year, encompassing a bunch of exterior changes to make the G more off-road ready, such as fat off-road tires on black 18-inch wheels, mud flaps, stone guards in front of the headlights, blacked-out exterior trim, a tow hitch, and more. The options list is revised and now gains ten additional colors (including the eye-catching new Copper Orange Magno), as well as a rear-seat entertainment system. As standard, the G550 now comes with a tow hitch and rear-seat entertainment preparation.
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 $133,250 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? Just under $143,000.
See trim levels and configurations:
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
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.
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.
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 2022 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 2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 starts from only $74,640 instead of $133,250 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 brand-new Range Rover currently offers two engine options, starting with a 3.0-liter inline-six with a mild-hybrid system that develops 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. This combo was suitable for a gas mileage figure of 18/23/20 mpg on the city/highway/combined on last year's model and the new one should improve on that: so less power, but more efficiency. On the road, the new Range Rover moves the game on and is 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 new Range Rover interior is one of the best in its class, and we prefer its new simplistic and minimalist look combined with old-world charm. The interior is spacious, and the front seats offer more adjustability. Cargo space now beats the Merc with a 40.7-cube effort. 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 $104,000 but tops out at at $158,000 for now, but far more expensive models exceeding $200,000 will be forthcoming in due course, giving you a wide range of options. We'd go with the Range Rover, especially because the all-new one is a sizeable improvement on the old.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Mercedes-Benz G-Class: