Don't be deceived by its familiar styling – the G-Class has been modernized for the 21st century.
Believe it or not, the iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class off-roader has been around since 1979 and has never had a major redesign in all that time – until now. Revealed at the Detroit Auto Show, the all-new 2019 G-Class marks the rebirth of an important automotive icon, and it doesn't disappoint. Retaining the SUV's signature boxy shape, the design looks evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but make no mistake: the grandaddy has been thoroughly modernized for the 21st century.
The exterior has been enhanced while staying true to the original, measuring 53 mm longer and 121 mm wider than the previous model, while the bumpers and wheel arches blend more seamlessly and look less like add-on features. Inside, the styling changes are more noticeable in the radically redesigned cabin. Several aspects are inspired by the exterior, such as the side air vents shaped like the round headlamps. Hallmarks of the G-Class remain, such as a grab handle in front of the front passenger and chrome switches for the three differential locks. It also features a multifunction steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls for the infotainment system, metallic accents, and wood or carbon fiber trim.
As standard, the SUV comes with analogue gauges, but these can be replaced with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster to complement the 12.3-inch infotainment display. Thanks to a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase and repositioned rear seats, rear passengers have an extra six inches of legroom. If you were worried that this emphasis on luxury and comfort would compromise the off-road prowess of the G-Class, then fear not. The new G-Class is even more capable off-road than its predecessor, featuring a ladder-type frame and has been equipped with three 100-percent differential locks that enhances the SUV's comfort and off-road agility.
New to the 2019 G-Class is the addition of an independent front suspension and double-wishbone front axle in combination with a rigid rear axle. By raising the axles, the G-Class now has a ground clearance of 241 mm between the axles, up by 6 mm. Approach, departure, and breakover angles are all improved by one degree, and there's an extra 3.9 inches of fording depth when driving through water and mud. It's more agile too, as the curb weight has been reduced by around 170 kg thanks to use of lightweight materials such as aluminium.
Up to five driving modes are now available for the G-Class. Mirroring other cars in Mercedes' range, Comfort, Sport, Individual and Eco echo modes allow you to tweak characteristics such as engine, transmission, suspension and steering in seconds with the touch of a button. New to the 2019 G-Class is G-mode, which is reserved for off-road driving and automatically activates whenever one of the three differential locks are activated or when the car goes into low-range gear. It adapts the adjustable damping and steering as well as the accelerator, avoiding unnecessary gearshifts, to "ensure optimum control and maximum off-road capability."
In the US, the 2019 G-Class will be offered as a G550 model powered by the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 as the outgoing model sending 416-horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission new for the 2019 model. It will go on sale in late 2018 and prices will be announced closer to launch. In Germany, the G-Class will be launched in June with prices starting from €107,040.50 ($130,532).