2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Preview
- Redesigned from the road to the roof, with a handful of exceptions
- Turbocharged V8 engine carries over, making 416 horsepower
- 9-speed automatic upgraded for improved responsiveness
- SUV loses 375 pounds, gains roomier interior
- Still as rugged as ever, but with improved on-pavement driving dynamics
- Cabin fitted with nicer materials and modern technology
- On sale in late 2018
Everybody knows what a G-Wagen is, and not just because its been around since 1979 and today looks largely identical to the original. Rather, the G-Wagen, which is technically called the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, is what you buy when you’ve got so much money falling out of your pockets that you have no idea what to do with it.
Pop culture icon and symbol of wealth and success, the G-Class started life as a utilitarian box on wheels, and somehow became a mega-buck SUV more likely to tackle valet stands in Vail than trails in Tajikistan. Now, the redesigned 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class legitimizes this super-luxe sport-utility positioning, at the same time that it celebrates the Gelandewagen’s history.
Launching first as a G550, no doubt to be followed by AMG-tuned performance variants, the new 2019 G-Class looks much like the old 1979-2018 G-Class.
So, yes, it is a box on wheels. But thanks to modern design, materials, and construction, quality and sophistication are expected to dramatically improve.
All of the expected G-Class cues are present and accounted for. Round headlights (LED for 2019). Fender-top turn signal indicators. Seemingly vertical windshield. Protective body moldings punctuated by classic door handles. Spare tire hung on the rear cargo door.
What’s harder to see are the longer and wider dimensions that add significantly to interior space and comfort.
Goals of this redesign included a more luxurious and quieter interior. While the 2019 G-Class still looks purposeful inside, you’re definitely going to be less inclined to try to hose it out. Wouldn’t want to ruin all that leather, or the trick electronics.
You still sit up high, with a panoramic view out. The windshield is close, the hood plainly visible, the front passenger supplied a dash-mounted grab handle in order to hang on for dear life. The new G-Class likely has no trouble delivering a similar driving experience to the SUV it replaces, which is one of its many charms.
Dimensions expand in all directions, adding to comfort levels. The rear seat benefits most, where there is an extra 5.9 inches of legroom. Owners can also upgrade to multi-contour front seats supplying ventilation, massage, and rapid heating for frigid days. These seats also have inflatable air chambers within the bolsters to help keep occupants in place when rounding curves and corners.
Under the Hood
The new Mercedes-Benz G550 is equipped with the same turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine that powered the previous version of the SUV, now charged with motivating 375 pounds fewer than before. That ought to help make its 416 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque feel more robust.
Mercedes has upgraded the G550’s 9-speed automatic transmission for 2019, improving responsiveness and supplying quicker shifts. This, combined with the reduction in weight, ought to make the G-Class feel livelier than before.
Dynamic Select driving modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual. Engage one of the SUV’s three locking differentials, or activate the 4-Low transfer case setting, and a G-Mode adjusts the throttle, transmission, and steering for low-speed off-roading maneuvers.
Impressive approach (31 degree), breakover (26 degree), and departure (30 degree) angles ensure that the G-Class continues to supply its legendary off-roading capability. The SUV can ford water and mud that is up to 27.6 inches deep, according to Mercedes, and provides a minimum of 9.5 inches of ground clearance at the rear axle.
Ride and handling improvements make the new G-Class more satisfying to drive on pavement. The SUV is still built on a ladder frame, but increased use of high-strength steel and aluminum increases structural strength and torsional rigidity.
A new independent front and solid rear axle suspension also refines the G-Class’s driving dynamics, along with electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering. An adaptive damping suspension is an option, further assisting in the control of ride motions and body roll.
Though Mercedes-Benz did not directly address the potential benefits of the G-Class’s stronger and stiffer vehicle architecture, the SUV will likely provide improved crash protection.
Furthermore, the company did not detail driver assistance and collision avoidance systems that it might add to the new G-Class. At a minimum, you can count on a return of adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, and a blind spot monitoring system, each of which is offered for the outgoing G-Class.
In association with the G550’s reveal at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, photos of the interior clearly depict the optional Widescreen Cockpit upgrade.
Replacing the standard round instrumentation and touchscreen infotainment system, Widescreen Cockpit combines two configurable 12.3-inch displays beneath a glass surface, and renders information in Classic, Sport, and Progressive themes.
A controller for the system resides in the center console, supplying haptic and audible feedback for easier operation without looking away from the road. Shortcut buttons adjacent to the controller aim to provide quick access to primary menus.