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#16

in Luxury Midsize SUVs

MSRP: $115,400 - $137,150
Invoice: $107,322 - $127,550
MPG: 12 City / 15 Hwy
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Mercedes-Benz G-Class Performance

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz G-Class’ V8 engine has lots of power and delivers brisk acceleration, reviewers say. Models with a twin-turbocharged V8 are even faster, they add. However, test drivers are unimpressed with the Mercedes-Benz G-Class’ handling. They say the G-Class lacks composure through turns, its slow steering makes it difficult to maneuver and its on-road driving dynamics generally fall short of many rivals'. However, reviewers agree that the G-Class is of the most capable off-road SUVs in the class.

  • "If you're considering the 2015 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, odds are there's a good chance it's made an emotional connection with you that'll be tough to break. Just know that you'll be missing out on the more modern overall driving experiences provided by its accomplished rivals." -- Edmunds
  • "The cheaper G550 delivers a reasonably competent drive, and its V8 is surprisingly responsive. But for those seeking snorting, thrilling performance, the gaudy yet potent G63 AMG is the G-Wagen of choice." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "There are a number of issues that present themselves. First, the truck is fast. Faster than you'd ever expect it to be. That means that you might enter a corner quicker than you think. The steering rack is slow and steering is light without much feel. Combine all of those things, and you have the recipe for a truly terrifying first trip around a highway on ramp. The narrow, tall truck just doesn't corner." -- Jalopnik (2013)
  • "This vehicle is not built for on-road handling. Slow, vague steering, plentiful body lean, and a huge turning radius make the G-Class virtually no fun to drive on pavement." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz G550 has a 5.5-liter V8 that makes 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. The G63 AMG has a twin-turbocharged version of the same engine, which generates 536 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. Both models have a seven-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates that the G550 gets up to 12/15 mpg city/highway, which is poor for the class.

According to automotive journalists, the G550 is plenty powerful and delivers vigorous acceleration from a stop. They say the G63 AMG is even quicker, with rapid acceleration that draws comparisons to sports cars. A few test drivers also report that the seven-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly.

  • "A potent V8 engine in the G550 enables a 0-60-mph run in around 6 seconds, while the twin-turbocharged G63 AMG makes the same run in about 5.3 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With a heavy curb weight and bricklike aerodynamics, the G-Class overcomes the challenges of acceleration with a heavy dose of power. Getting up to highway speeds is surprisingly effortless, and upgrading to the G63 AMG further blesses this big SUV with sports car-like acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "Despite a curb weight approaching three tons, the G550 moves with surprising dispatch. Credit the torquey V8 and slick 7-speed automatic transmission for this SUV's vigorous acceleration." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "It's equipped with a seven-speed automatic, which does a swell job. Shifts are fast, crisp, and smooth. It's everything you want it to be. It does have paddles and a manual shift mode, but you aren't going to use them. I did for about four blocks and found them useless. They are probably good for off-roading and holding a gear though." -- Jalopnik (2013)

Handling and Braking

Automotive journalists are disappointed in the G-Class’ handling, stating that its sluggish steering is not ideal for driving on paved roads. Critics also report that its tall stance makes it feel unwieldy through turns and in tight spaces. Test drivers note that rivals like the Audi Q7 offer much better driving dynamics.

  • "Driven around turns, the tall and narrow G doesn't inspire confidence. Moreover, the steering is slow and doesn't return to center quickly, since this vehicle is set up for off-roading." -- Edmunds
  • "The G-Class proves easier to maneuver around town than expected, but still falls short of the ride one might experience in a more modern vehicle, such as the Audi Q7 or even the MB GL550." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The G-Class feels a lot more elevated than it looks, if you can believe that. This is obviously a tall and narrow vehicle, but these qualities are somehow magnified when you're behind the wheel. So if there's a tight corner ahead, take it slow. The G-Wagen is more like the Mercedes Sprinter cargo van than an ordinary Benz in this respect." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "The solid-axle suspension - a setup preferred by hard-core off-roaders - lopes along clumsily at highway speeds, sending soft shudders through the chassis over expansion joints." -- Cars.com (2013)

Off-Roading

The 2015 G-Class comes with full-time four-wheel drive. Automotive writers report that there are few obstacles the G-Class can't crawl through or climb over, and they agree that the G-Class is one of the most capable off-road SUVs available.

  • "The G-Class' $115,000-plus price tag places it in league with the Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne, but should the need ever arise, its owners can take solace in knowing their luxury SUV remains one of the world's most rugged and confident off-road explorers ever built." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The slow steering is a benefit in the dirt, though, as the 2015 Mercedes-Benz G-Class can be guided through just about anything nature throws at it, and the steering wheel rarely registers the impacts. With its full-time 4WD system with front, center and rear locking differentials, the G goes about its trail bashing (if one is so inclined in a $100,000 vehicle) with a more back-to-basics approach than what you'll get from a high-tech Land Rover or Lexus." -- Edmunds
  • "Our tester's wheels clawed easily through wet, tire-deep mud, but without the height-adjustable suspension that other pricey SUVs employ, ground clearance in the G-Class is just 8.1 inches." -- Cars.com (2013)
Review Last Updated: 3/2/15

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