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G Whiz

by Nate Chapnick | Hawai'i magazine | September 6, 2012

Thirty-three years after its debut, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class (short for Geländewagen) still turns heads as if it were a never-before-seen brand-new model. 

The revamped G550 is solid from door handles to door locks—a well-mannered brute built for the 21st century. Changes are most noticeable in the interior, anchored by a sleek new center stack with improved ergonomics and an upgraded gauge cluster incorporating a color LCD screen. Along for the ride is Mercedes’ latest incarnation of its COMAND infotainment system, complete with a scroll wheel above the gear selector and mbrace2 connectivity, allowing remote locking via cellphone and the ability to wirelessly send destinations directly to the G’s navigation system. Techies will undoubtedly love these new, innovative features. Unchanged is the SUV’s “hold-on” grab handle above the glove box and three locking differential switches.

A quick 5.5-liter V8 engine churning out 388 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque powers the 5,622-pound G. Despite its girth, acceleration is no obstacle; romp on the gas and this SUV surges from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 6.0 seconds. Making no secret of its impressive off-road underpinnings, the G550 attacks twisty roads, where its high center of gravity produces obvious lean in corners. Not as smooth is entry into tight spaces. Proceed with caution through parking decks as the G550 cuts a striking 6-foot-4-inch figure. This is one top you don’t want to take down!

The 2013 G-Class also boasts a revved up suite of safety features, including Blind Spot Assist, as well as Distronic Plus—a high-tech cruise control system that relies on radars to maintain a preset distance between the G and other vehicles. Poised to be the best of the lot when it lands at dealers this August, those who fancy one had better get in the fast lane.

Spec Check 
2013 Mercedes-Benz G550

Base Price: $110,000 est.

Engine: 5.5-liter V8

Horsepower: 388 hp @ 6,000 rpm

Torque: 391 lb.-ft. @ 2,800 rpm

Transmission: 7 speed automatic

0 to 60 mph: 6.0 seconds

Curb Weight: 5,622 lbs.

Fuel Economy City/Highway: 12/15 mpg

Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs.

Top Speed: 130 mph

Fab Features:

Unmistakable styling
Three locking differentials provide versatility
Unmatched road view