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#8

in Luxury Large SUVs

MSRP: $114,200 - $135,700
Invoice: $106,206 - $126,201
MPG: 12 City / 15 Hwy
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Mercedes-Benz G-Class Performance

Automotive journalists report that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz G-Class has more than enough power to accelerate quickly with its base V8 engine, and agree that the twin-turbo V8 in the G63 AMG brings especially fast acceleration. Most critics say that the G-Class does not handle very well on pavement because its large size and heavy weight mean that you can't take corners very fast. They say it has a firm ride over highway joints and some note that it requires long distances to come to a complete stop. Still, others say the G-Class is an impressive off-roader, with standard four-wheel drive that helps it tackle nearly any obstacle.

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

Acceleration and Power

The Mercedes-Benz G550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 that produces 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 come with a seven-speed automatic transmission. According to the EPA, the G550 will return 12/15 mpg city/highway, which is low for the class. Mercedes-Benz estimates that the G63 AMG accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds.

According to reviewers, the G550 accelerates quickly from a stop, and the G63 AMG moves even faster. The seven-speed transmission is occasionally slow to kick down when more power is needed, test drivers say, but is generally in the right gear and shifts smoothly and quickly.

  • "With a portly curb weight and all the aerodynamic efficiency of a brick, the G550 defies logic by accelerating with shocking ease. Upgrading to the even more powerful G63 gets you sports car-like acceleration that is positively stupefying." -- Edmunds
  • "For its bulk, the G-Wagen is surprisingly quick in a straight line. Its V8 engine enables the G550 to hit 60 mph in about six seconds, while the twin-turbocharged version in the AMG version launches the G63 to that mark in an estimated 5.3 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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)
  • "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 (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

According to auto journalists, the G-Class’ tall stance and heavy weight mean that it can't be hustled through corners very quickly. Critics write that it lumbers through turns, is not very engaging to drive and that highway expansion joints are felt in the cabin. Its steering is a bit too slow and some find that the G-Class requires quite a bit of distance in order to come to a complete stop.

  • "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
  • "Driven around turns, the tall and narrow G doesn't inspire confidence, and it enjoys the dubious distinction of being the slowest vehicle on record in the Edmunds slalom test, thanks in part to a highly intrusive stability control system. Moreover, the steering is slow and doesn't return to center quickly, since this vehicle is set up for off-roading." -- Edmunds
  • "By its rough and rugged looks alone you can accurately surmise that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz G550 SUV isn't a corner-carver. Its raised center of gravity and weight in excess of 5,500 pounds disqualify this ultra-premium SUV from turning on a dime, though its steering and brake feel are refined and of top-quality." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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)
  • "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 (2013)

Off-Roading

The G-Class comes with a full-time four-wheel drive system, and test drivers report that there are few obstacles the G-Class can't crawl through or climb over, noting that its low-range gearing helps it easily manage challenging off-road courses. 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.

  • "Though it's far more likely to roam Beverly Hills, where the G-Class truly excels is far off the beaten path. Few owners will use it as thus, but the G-Class remains an extremely formidable off-road machine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The slow steering is a benefit in the dirt, though, as the 2014 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)
  • "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 (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/14/14

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