Since it was first introduced in 1979, the Mercedes G-Wagen has received more than its fair share of updates. But despite being on the road for nearly 40 years, it’s never once received a complete redesign. Until now. Meet the brand new 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class.
Granted, it doesn’t look all that different than the previous model, but that’s by design. Mercedes didn’t see any reason to mess with the G-Wagen’s iconic shape, so the designers mostly left the exterior alone. Instead, Mercedes had its team put most of its effort into completely re-engineering everything else. So although the new luxury off-roader is slightly longer and wider than before, the differences between the two aren’t immediately obvious.
Still, we like what Mercedes has done with the look. It’s been tastefully updated, but it’s still clearly a G-Wagen. Anyone who doesn’t like that can always buy a GLE or GLS.
The interior, on the other hand, has been completely redesigned. As we mentioned in our in-depth interior preview, the passenger grab handle is still there, as are the center-mounted switches that control the three locking differentials. The rest of the cabin, however, has been given the modern Mercedes treatment. If you like the current E-Class’ interior, you’ll like the one on the new G-Class. If not, well, you’re out of luck. The designers even got rid of the infamous basketball hoop cupholder.
In our First Ride review, we found the new G-Wagen much more comfortable than the outgoing version, and part of that has to do with the increased cabin space. Mercedes says legroom and shoulder room have both increased 1.5 inches up front, and front elbow room is up 2.7 inches. The biggest improvement, though, is in the back seat, where legroom is up an impressive 5.7 inches. Add an extra 1.1 inches of shoulder space and 2.2 more inches of elbow space, and riding in the back seat becomes a much more enjoyable experience.
And don’t worry, the doors still close with that signature G-Wagen thunk.
At launch, the G-Class will only offer one version: the G550. Using a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, the G550 makes 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Compared to the outgoing model, power and torque haven’t changed, but we expect the new G550 to feel quicker for two reasons. First, Mercedes swapped out the old seven-speed auto for its new nine-speed unit, and second, engineers were able to reduce overall weight by 375 pounds. As a result, don’t be surprised if the G550 hits 60 mph in the mid-five-second range. Of course, if that’s not quick enough for you, an AMG-tuned G63 will inevitably follow.
Thanks to the new independent front suspension and significantly wider front track, as well as its lighter weight, it’s a safe bet that the G-Wagen will be better behaved around town. Expect improved steering, too, thanks to the new rack-and-pinion steering. But just because Mercedes improved the G-Class’ on-road manners doesn’t mean it’s any less of a hardcore off-roader. In fact, as Mercedes showed us on its mountainous Austrian test trail, the new G-Wagen might even be more capable off-road than its predecessor, independent front suspension and all.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but expect that closer to the G550’s on-sale date toward the end of 2018.