What Changed for 2009:
- 30th anniversary of G-Class model
- New grille and grille guard
- New interior appointments
- G550 model with 382-hp V-8 engine replaces G500
- Supercharged engine in G55 AMG gets boost to 500 hp
- HD Radio and Sirius Real-Time Traffic information now available
Don't confuse the G-Class with the more recent, American-built GL-Class. The G-Class is Mercedes' venerable sport utility vehicle that, like the Hummer, began life in military service but was later modified for civilian use. But while modified for civilians, the G has retained its iconic, upright and basically boxy exterior design.
The G-Class received significant civilian upgrades for the 2007 model year and they continued into 2008. Those enhancements included navigation, bi-Xenon headlamps, 7-speed automatic transmission, new fog lamps and center console, as well as new interior leather trim and better front-seat cushions. For 2008, the updates included a new instrument cluster and steering wheel, new tail lamps, new rearview camera and hands-free telephone.
Marking the model's 30th anniversary, the 2009 G-Class gets a new 3-bar grille with grille guard. New interior appointments include heated and ventilated front seats, multi-contour front passenger seat, and rear-passenger reading lamps. A new G550 model with a 382-hp V-8 engine replaces the prior G500, gaining new 18-inch, 5-twin-spoke wheels in the process. The supercharged G55 AMG's engine is now rated at 500 hp, with new 19-inch, 5-spoke wheels and an Alcantara leather headliner as standard equipment. A new multimedia head unit has a more colorful display, with in-dash 6-disc CD/DVD changer and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. New features include an iPod/MP3 interface; hard-disk drive for navigation and storing 4 gigabytes of music; and a harman/kardon Logic7 surround system with Dolby digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound. GPS maps include the Zagat Restaurant Survey and advanced voice control for audio, navigation and phone. Also newly available are HD Radio and Sirius Real-Time Traffic information. The 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is covered by a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty that includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is available for 2009 in two models: G550 and G55 AMG. The G550 comes with dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents; power telescoping and tilting steering column with a heated wood/leather steering wheel; COMAND (which is Mercedes' term for its cockpit management and data system with DVD navigation); cruise control; heated leather-covered front and rear seats; power sunroof; 10-way-adjustable memory front seats; folding rear seat; and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Standard equipment also includes a premium harmon/kardon Logic7 audio system with a 6-disc CD changer in the cargo area, running boards, HomeLink garage door opener, telephone interface, trailer hitch pre-wiring, and an electrically heated windshield.
The G55 AMG, developed by Mercedes' in-house high-performance shop, adds premium Nappa leather, natural maple wood trim, rear park assist, rearview camera, illuminated door sills, Sirius satellite radio, and hands-free communication. To distinguish it from the G550, the G55 AMG model wears a silver-painted front grille and is equipped with AMG side exhaust.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz G550 is powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 engine that pumps out 382 hp and 391 lb.-ft. of torque (compare that to the 292 hp and 336 lb.-ft. of torque from last year's engine). The power flows through a 7-speed automatic transmission to a permanent 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system with front, center and rear locking differentials to provide maximum traction. EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2009 G550 are 11 mpg city/15 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 13 mpg (that number is up slightly from last year's 12-mpg city rating). Vented and slotted G-Class front brakes are also larger for 2009. The standard anti-lock braking includes brake assist.
The G55 AMG gets a larger, hand-built, 5.5-liter V-8 engine that generates 500 hp (up from 493) and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is linked to a 5-speed automatic transmission. With electromechanical differential locks, AMG exhaust system and AMG wheels, Mercedes claims the G55 AMG can sprint from a standing start to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds-a number more commonly associated with a sports car. To accommodate its enhanced dynamic capabilities, the G55 AMG also comes with larger brakes. EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2009 G55 AMG are 11 mpg city/15 mpg highway (up from 13 mpg highway last year), with a combined rating of 12 mpg.
Safety equipment on the 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class includes Electronic Stability Program (ESP), anti-lock brakes with brake assist, turn signals integrated into the side mirrors, bi-Xenon headlamps, headlamp washers, and front and rear fog lamps. These SUVs are equipped with front air bags for the driver and front-seat occupant and with curtain air bags that cover both rows.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a low-production model. As a result, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have rated the 2009 G-Class for crash protection.
All 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class models channel their power through a full-time 4WD system that distributes torque through front, center and rear differentials, all of which can be locked for off-road use-via buttons located on the dashboard-while the vehicle is in motion. To reduce the likelihood of wheel spin in extremely low-traction situations, the center and rear differential locks can be engaged whenever the vehicle is off-pavement. In the most slippery off-road situations-for example, in deep mud-the front differential may also be locked for maximum traction.
The G-Class comes with a 2-speed transfer case that features electronically controlled high and low ranges. Its fully synchronized low range can even be engaged on the fly at speeds up to about 15 mph, Mercedes says. A 4-wheel electronic traction control system automatically helps drivers through on-road and most off-road conditions, according to Mercedes. Traction control is integrated with an Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which can detect an impending spin or slide and apply brakes on one wheel as needed to help keep the vehicle on track, the automaker explains. Mercedes says the G-Class is very capable off road. According to the manufacturer, the G-Class can climb a 36-degree grade, and is stable on lateral inclines up to 24 degree.