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#8

in Luxury Large SUVs

MSRP: $113,000 - $134,300
Invoice: $105,090 - $124,899
MPG: 12 City / 15 Hwy
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Mercedes Benz G-Class Performance

Reviewers agree that the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a fast SUV, especially the more powerful G63 AMG model. They also say that it has very good off-roading abilities. However, most caution that its ponderous handling and imprecise steering, combined with its abundant power, can make it a handful to pilot on paved roads, and not especially fun to drive.

  • "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
  • "Standing 6-foot-4, the 2013 G63 AMG does not look like a handler. And it's not." -- Edmunds
  • "But the resulting highway manners make for an experience that's like driving a building." -- Cars.com
  • "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

Acceleration and Power

The Mercedes-Benz G550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 that produces 388 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 come with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The G550 is rated at an EPA-estimated 12/15 mpg city/highway, which is low for the class. The G63 AMG is rated at 12/14 mpg.

Reviewers report that the G550 has ample power and accelerates with authority. The G63 AMG is even quicker, they say, with acceleration that belies its size and curb weight, as well as an engine note that sounds like that of a race car. Test drivers write that the seven-speed transmission is occasionally slow to kick down when more power is needed, but is generally in the right gear and shifts quickly and smoothly.

  • "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
  • "And it is absolutely giggle-inducing quick in a straight line, especially the new-this-year G63 AMG model, with its quite mad 544 horsepower." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Typical of Mercedes, the accelerator has a relaxed, gradual progression, but the normally aspirated V-8 hurries the G550 to highway speeds if you push the gas hard. The standard seven-speed automatic displays some kickdown lag but little gear hunting, and a Sport mode eliminates some of the initial gas-pedal sleepiness." -- Cars.com
  • "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
  • "If not for the racecar screams and guttural pops of the engine, you'd swear magnets were behind this acceleration." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is slightly uncomfortable on imperfect roads, according to most critics, who say that most large bumps are felt in the cabin. They add that the G-Class exhibits prominent, unwanted body motions over bumps and expansion joints on the highway, and add that the steering feels heavy. According to reviewers, the brakes are not strong enough to bring the heavy G-Class to a stop quickly from higher speeds and note that the pedal feels numb.

  • "G-Class rides about as well as can be expected from a traditional body-on-frame SUV. Highway ruts and dips induce noticeable hobby-horse pitching and diving. Sharp bumps and potholes send shock waves through the cabin, but the suspension and beefy tires do a decent job of smothering smaller imperfections." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Bend it into a corner and you're met with a shocking surprise: There's very little lean. The suspension is designed to handle extreme off-roading, so a moderate g-load doesn't upset it. Not that this lack of lean translates to anything resembling decent handling, mind you, as the stability control stops all the fun long before it gets a chance to start." -- Edmunds
  • "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
  • "Mercedes claims that the suspension has been revised for more dynamic handling -- too bad the steering, which is unbelievably slow and full of friction, discourages any exploration of the G's enhanced cornering abilities." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "A 5,800 pound truck requires a lot of stopping power. At low speeds, the G63 stops just fine. At higher speeds, it's kind of a terrifying experience. Pedal feel is slightly rubbery and bringing it down from speed in a hurry isn't something that happens. The G63 is a plan ahead sort of vehicle. Everything takes a while, and that includes braking." -- Jalopnik

Off-Roading

The G-Class comes with a full-time four-wheel drive system, and reviewers say it has tremendous off-road capabilities, with the ability to travel through muddy, rutted roads and rocky trails with ease, especially in low gears. Some critics point out that the G-Class' lack of an adjustable suspension means that it can't be raised up to tackle more challenging off-road trails.

  • "Disable ESC, engage low-range, and the G-Class is more than happy to crawl up and down most anything you throw at it, especially if you manually keep the seven-speed automatic in lower gears." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Though few G-Wagens will ever see muddy trails or rocky paths, given their hefty prices, the 2013 G-Class is, in fact, a formidable off-road machine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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
Review Last Updated: 3/21/14

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