Among rugged SUVs, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, or G-Wagon, has always been among the most highly prized. The revamped second generation of this boxy brute is clearly more modern, without tampering with the toughness revered since 1979. 

Outside, changes to the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 seem subtle. In reality, only a handful of parts are carried over. It’s also bigger in every direction. While still body-on-ladder-type-frame… it’s more rigid yet 375-pounds lighter. Less weight… makes the 416 hp 4.0-liter biturbo V8 feel even more robust with a new 9G-TRONIC automatic modified specifically for the G-Class.

Now, most G-Wagon owners will stay on the tarmac, but it excels off-road. So we headed for the dirt in California. 

Modern touches include replacing the rigid front axle with a double-wishbone independent suspension, mounted high enough so the front axle has 10.6-inches of ground clearance. 

“All the work engineers did underneath really pays off when you’re here in the driver’s seat. Sure you’re aware of the rough terrain… but it’s very comfort… it feels very firm … and it all goes along with the go anywhere attitude and ability.”

The rigid “rear” axle remains… so do three locking differentials that quickly divide the torque front to back and side to side. DYNAMIC SELECT offers five distinct driving modes… including the new "G-Mode"… which precisely adjusts speed, shifts, steering and damping for off-roading. 

Mercedes swapped the hydraulics for electromechanical rack-and-pinion steering… helping this big SUV feel more nimble.

For power hungry drivers… the 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 gets a 577-horsepower handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter biturbo V8. Teamed up with a lightning fast AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G-TRONIC automatic and AMG tweaked suspension… this behemoth barrels down the road like a tank on steroids.

The classic exterior shape shelters a now contemporary cabin. The passenger grab handle, differential lock switches, and analogue round dials remain… but there’s more room, and Mercedes luxury and technology… like the optional widescreen digital cockpit. 

So the Mercedes-Benz G-Class goes through the greatest change in its history… facing the future more polished but still iconic. 

On sale now, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 starts at about $125,000. And add another 23-thousand for the AMG G63.


  • 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550:
  • Engine: 4.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 577
  • Price: Starts at $148,000
  • 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63: