Rugged on the outside, lavish within and boasting more off-road ability than its elite set of buyers could ever dream of using, the 2014 G-Class is among the most extreme SUVs money can buy. While tough enough for war zones, the $115,000-plus Mercedes G is far more likely to be found cruising Rodeo Drive.
You'll Like The 2014 Mercedes-Benz G-Class If...
If you want an ultra-tough yet lavish 5-passenger SUV with disregard to fuel efficiency or price, the Mercedes-Benz G550 or the even more exorbitant G63 AMG version is ready to command your – and everyone else's – attention.
You May Not Like The 2014 Mercedes-Benz G-Class If...
If sedan-like comfort or combined fuel economy greater than 13 mpg are motivating factors in your purchase, the G-Class's overall excess will pose a conflict. An Audi Q5, Mercedes M-Class or BMW X5 offers kinder road manners and better fuel economy (especially diesel models) at less than half the cost.
No major changes have been made to the 2014 Mercedes G-Wagen after it received a new interior and an enhanced exterior last year.
Though brutish on the outside, the G-Class's interior is another story. This is still a Mercedes, after all, and a 6-figure one at that. Its cabin is almost entirely handcrafted and features premium leather that covers the seats and dash. Polished wood and chrome accents abound. Controls are a fine mix of utilitarian (the three prominent locking-differential buttons displayed front and center) and elegant (a crisp, 7-inch tablet-style command screen). The G's squared shape means headroom is practically unlimited, but taller occupants may wish for more legroom. Cargo capacity is generous: over 45 cubic feet behind the 2nd-row seats and nearly 80 with them folded.
While even Range Rovers have softened their lines over the years, the latest Mercedes-Benz G-Class retains the boxy, upright look that has made it recognizable for decades. Aerodynamic it's not, but the G-Wagen's design is honest, masculine and pragmatic thanks to the interior roominess it affords. At just 184.5 inches long, the G is actually shorter than the Mercedes M-Class SUV. Last year's updates that included LED daytime running lights, electrically folding mirrors and a fresh grille for the AMG version add touches of modern, but for the most part the G remains the boxy beast it's always been. You're likely to either be enthralled or repelled by its machismo.
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. 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. In highway and around-town driving the G-Class feels easier to manage than you might expect. 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.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is just over $115,000 for the G550 and tops $136,000 for the G63 AMG. At these prices, the G-Class is among the highest-priced SUVs available. Rivals at these price points include the Porsche Cayenne Turbo (roughly $111,000) and Cayenne Turbo S ($147,000), and Autobiography editions of the Land Rover Range Rover ($136,000). If you're among the select group of buyers in the market for a G-Wagen, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying before sealing the deal. As for resale value, we expect the G-Class to retain its value better than the Range Rover but not as well as the Porsche Cayenne, which last year was crowned as Best Luxury Mid-Size SUV/Crossover in Kelley Blue Book's Best Resale Value Awards.
Both the G550 and the even more loaded G63 are stuffed with amenities and capability. Included in each model are leather and wood interior, navigation, rearview camera and 12-speaker/450-watt harman/kardon AM/FM/CD/DVD audio system with HD Radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and USB input. Other features include heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and power-folding side mirrors. AMG models add richer designo leather, 20-inch wheels, high-performance brakes and sport exhaust pipes that peek out the sides. Enabling the G-Wagen's off-road prowess are permanent all-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case and three lockable differentials (center, rear and front).
The 2014 G-Class is stuffed to the gills in standard form, and being a low-volume vehicle it doesn't have the usual list of options and packages like most other Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Customers who want further exclusivity can get it with Mercedes' designo selection of exterior color schemes and interior trims. Also available are subscriptions to mbrace, Mercedes' suite of mobile apps, concierge and other services.
SCULPTED FRONT BUCKET SEATS
Whether you're navigating the urban jungle or a real one, the front seats in the Mercedes-Benz G550 and G63 AMG make an excellent command center. They offer versatile adjustment options and a firm grip.
THE AMG VERSION
If you're already willing to spend the $115,000 it takes to get into a G-Wagen, what's another $20,000 and change? Step up and you'll get a voracious biturbo V8 that makes 536 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque, vs. the 382/391 figures of the naturally aspirated model.
Under the Hood
Two V8 engine choices are available in the 2014 G-Class. The G550 uses a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 5.5-liter V8 that makes a robust 382 horsepower, while the G63 AMG ups the ante with a twin-turbocharged version that makes a thundering 536 horsepower. Both models feature permanent all-wheel drive and use a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for those who want control of shift points. The AMG version features an Eco Start/Stop function, which cuts the engine at idle to save fuel. Both models of the G-Class are rated to return just 13 mpg combined and use premium gasoline. Towing capacity for both models is commendable at 7,000 pounds.
382 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
391 lb-ft of torque @2,800-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/15 mpg
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8
536 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
561 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/14 mpg
One word best describes the Mercedes-Benz G-Class: extreme. Fit for use as a military vehicle, the 2014 G-Class is among the most capable SUVs ever created. Affectionately called the “G-Wagen,” from the German Gelandewagen (“cross-country car”), it is rugged to the max, boasting three locking differentials and the ability to climb or descend an incredible 80-percent incline. Inside, though, Mercedes' ultimate off-roader is as luxurious as you'd expect for an SUV costing over $115,000. Like the Range Rover or a high-end Porsche Cayenne, most buyers will never use their G-Wagen to a fraction of its capabilities. But such rationale matters little. For this elite set, the reason to own a Mercedes G is much like the vehicle itself: It's all about being extreme.