The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen Wows Us on a European Road Trip
WE LIKE Dedication to design, off-road capability
WE DON’T LIKE Heavy-handed software, too-ritzy interior
Despite its age, the G-Class was loved by consumers and critics alike. It’s what makes the redesigned second-generation G-Class such a big deal for Mercedes.
At first glance, Mercedes absolutely stays true to the original’s spirit. It looks much like a slightly scaled-up G-Wagen, right down to its boxy design and callbacks such as its (pedestrian-friendlier) fender-mounted turn signals and shunk-shunk mechanical door locks.
Hop inside, and there’s no mistaking that this G-Class is a product of 2018. The now-roomier cabin is jarring in its ode to modernity when compared to the old-school cool the sheetmetal was selling. Up front are massive twin digital displays operated by touchpads on the steering wheel, the left a digital instrument cluster, the right a fussy infotainment system. The rest of the cabin is filled with leathers, woods, and metals, which are welcome but feel more appropriate to an S-Class than this pricey off-roader.
Anchored by a choice of 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8s paired with a nine-speed automatic and four-wheel drive, the new G-Class is worlds better on-road. Although Frank Markus found the AMG version “totally awesome” on winding roads, the base G 550 predictably suffered from understeer when pushed too hard—easy to do with 416 hp on tap. But it keeps its traditional off-road skill set. Both the G 63 and G 550 laughed at our off-road course, especially with the AMG’s Sand mode.
But there are issues. Modern nannies were overbearing, even playing the pre-crash safety sound during routine maneuvers. There were also several gremlins, including an improperly adjusting driver-side mirror.