2012 Mercedes Benz G-Class Review
Nearly every reviewer says that the 2012 Mercedes-Benz G-Class’ strange combination of unbeatable off-road performance, top-notch build quality and unique looks gives it a spot in their dream garage.
If you’re looking for a sensible luxury large SUV that will get your family through a few winter snow storms and putter around town the rest of the year, the G-Class is not the SUV for you. Test drivers agree that the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is one of the least practical vehicles on the market. However, if you’re able to spend some serious cash on a true automotive icon with legendary off-road capabilities, it doesn’t get much better than the military-inspired G550.
Reviewers say the G-Class’ on-road handling is terrible, it has some of the worst ergonomics in the class, its electronics are unintuitive and its interior is fairly cramped for such a large SUV. So what’s its attraction?
Its V8 engine is ridiculously powerful, giving it acceleration that’s unreal to experience in a shoebox of an SUV. Test drivers say that it feels as well-built as a bank vault, and its interior materials and fit and finish can’t get much better. Automotive journalists say that it’s one of the most capable off-road vehicles on the market. And the exclusivity that comes with a price tag of more than $100,000 doesn’t hurt either.
Nearly every critic agrees there’s no way to justify the Mercedes-Benz G-Class as a rational purchase. However, if you’ve got the budget for an illogical but supremely capable toy, you won’t have much more fun in an SUV than you will in a Mercedes G550.
Other SUVs to Consider
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class competes in a small class, and its competitors are all less expensive and better-mannered on paved roads. The Land Rover Range Rover’s base price is downright cheap compared with the G-Class’, but when fully optioned, it can soar to nearly $30,000 more than the G550’s MSRP. It also has a back seat that’s roomy enough for adults to be comfortable. Plus, the Range Rover offers modern luxury features like a refrigerated rear-center console and heated rear seats that the G-Class can’t match.
The Lexus LX is another luxo-cruiser with impressive off-road credentials. Based on the Toyota Land Cruiser, the eight-seat LX combines Lexus’ reputation for upscale, high-quality accommodations with Toyota’s brand of go-anywhere capability. It’s not quite as iconic as the Mercedes G-Class and it might look too much like the Land Cruiser for someone with an $80,000 budget, but even when optioned to the hilt, it still costs $15,000 less than the G-Class.
Details: Mercedes-Benz G Class
Mercedes offers the G-Class in just one trim, the G550. The mind-blowing G55 AMG version was discontinued after the 2011 model year, so for 2012, Mercedes is offering an Edition Select package on the G550 which includes some of the AMG’s interior and exterior features.
See the full list of 2012 Mercedes-Benz G-Class specifications.
- "It all adds up to a vehicle that doesn't really make any rational sense. But the same could be said of any number of exotic sports cars, and we rarely shoo people away from those. The G-Class is just a different sort of exotic luxury vehicle purchase, albeit one that can climb an alp and defend a generalissimo from attack rather than carve through a canyon road at 125 mph.” -- Edmunds
- “The death of Hummer leaves the G550 as the most serious SUV on the road. … Able to go far off-road, the G-class is a unique vehicle that doesn’t try to hide its SUV swagger.” -- Car and Driver
- "Luxury for those who actually drive off road.” -- Motor Trend
- "It's neither practical nor a good value, yet people who can add them to their stable still love them." -- Automobile Magazine