2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

G550 AWD 4-Dr Sport Utility V8 auto trans

G550 AWD 4-Dr Sport Utility V8 auto trans

2013 mercedes-benz g-class Reviews and News

2013 Mercedes Benz G Class Front Right Side View 2
As we noted when we first sampled the slightly-revised 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class earlier this year, the G's "off-road ability is the only rational reason to choose it over Mercedes' far more modern SUVs." But just what exactly can the G-Class do off-road? Mercedes-Benz invited us to Graz, Austria, to see for ourselves.

Behind The Curtain

As Austria's second-largest city, Graz is home to more than 290,000 people, but for the past 33 years, it's also been home to G-Class production. The Gelandewagen was developed in partnership with local firm Steyr-Daimler-Puch, which specialized in off-road vehicles like the Pinzgauer, Haflinger, and Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro. Although the firm was taken over by Canadian supplier Magna in 1998 and renamed Magna Steyr, it's still responsible for cranking out nearly 54 G-Class vehicles each day.
Interestingly, it still builds G-Class models in the same manner it did three decades ago. If you're looking for automation or robotic aids, you'll find precious little along the G-Class assembly line. The vast majority of each truck is hand-built, including the body: after receiving panels from a stamping facility, workers position them in place by hand, and perform each and every weld manually. Employees hand-prep the body for priming and painting, and bustle to push shells to the paint line - which may be the sole automated portion of the line. The G-Class's boxed-frame chassis is assembled manually on a separate line, and workers mate the built-up frame with the painted body in an old-fashioned "marriage" at a later point on the line.
Commercial-grade and military-spec vehicles - including some wild 6x6 chassis cabs destined for the Australian army - are built right alongside G550 and G63 models. Presently, the new G63 AMG accounts for roughly 60 percent of production, but officials tell us that's mostly due to the fact there wasn't an AMG-branded G-Class last year. Expect that figure to drop to roughly 40-50 percent once that pent-up demand is satisfied.

Das Iron-Schoekel

With a 34-degree approach angle, a 29-degree departure angle, and eight inches of ground clearance, Mercedes-Benz says the G-Class is capable of scaling 45-degree inclines - and a short run up the Iron Schoekel course proves that. Looking like a two-story Erector set with a teeter-totter placed on top, the steel structure essentially serves as a jungle gym, allowing the G-Class to flex its muscles. The climb on either side forces you to scale a 45-degree incline, and doing so points you toward the sky in roller-coaster fashion. Dramatic, but you're not done yet: scale the summit, and the see-saw points you back down again, forcing the G to descend a 45-degree incline. Our driver wanted to show off, and stopped the vehicle on the descent, and then casually backed the G550 wagon up the same slope.
Although the G-Class gains a number of electronic goodies for 2013, terrain response and hill descent controls aren't part of the list. The G-Class's off-road prowess is the result of some sophisticated hardware. The full-time four-wheel-drive system can function in an automatic mode, which is suitable for most on-road situations, but the driver can manually lock three differentials. Locking the center permanently splits power 50/50 between the front and rear axles. Lock the rear axle, and power is split evenly between the rear wheels; lock the front axle, and the same happens to the front wheels. Disable ESC, engage low-range, and the G-Class is more than happy to crawl up and down most anything you throw at it, especially if you manually keep the seven-speed automatic in lower gears.

The Real Schoekel

We had our first opportunity to put all this to the test 35 miles outside of Graz, when we drove to the real Schoekel- a local ski resort that's also popular with alpine hikers and mountain bikers. For the past fifty years, it's also served as a proving grounds for Magna-Steyr, allowing it to hone its products on the rocky, rutted paths that bisect paved main roads. While Magna Steyr teams maintain these trails by clearing trees and replacing chunky gravel, they're hardly cultured as a result.
This venue offered our first chance to play with the differential locks. Operating these takes some thought and practice: the center diff should be locked for most off-road ventures, but locking the front or rear differentials will affect the G's steering - and in some very narrow spots, where we're forced to thread between rows of slender pine trees, that's an important consideration. We typically stayed away from the front lock, save for a few spots where we needed to scale tall rock faces, or climb uphill while one front wheel was raised.
We were impressed with the G's ability to settle down and scamper over terrain that would be incredibly difficult for a human to traverse by foot, but the demonstration wasn't over yet. A factory driving team then proceeded to race us down the mountain on the same paths, but at a seemingly suicidal 35-40 mph. I've yet to examine my x-rays, but I'm certain a few of my internal organs appear as if they went three rounds in a UFC octagon. The G-Class? Though it bounced, shook, and swayed its way down the mountain, the G was no worse for the wear. Impressively, there were no buzzes or rattles during the whole ordeal, and the only squeaks came from the mortified passengers, grabbing any available handle with snow-white knuckles.

All For Naught?

Outside of the armed forces or, conversely, smugglers, we've no idea who would really need to drive a G-Class in such a manner, let alone who would be skilled enough to manage one driven at its ultimate limit. Regardless, it's clear the G remains one of the most rugged off-roaders available - even if its opulent leather-trimmed interior, chromed exterior bits, and - on AMG models - lowered bumper fascia aren't as trail-friendly as they could be. Mercedes-Benz does sell a more rudimentary, commercial-grade G-Class abroad that would likely appeal to the hardcore off-road set abroad, but Mercedes-Benz USA won't sell it here.
And why would it? North American owners don't necessarily use that prowess to its fullest, and they're not necessarily looking to. They instead want a status symbol; a vehicle that's solid, capable, opulent, and handcrafted to their exact taste. But they also want an icon; an authentic vehicle whose ability has been proven time and again. Even after 33 years on this planet, it's hard to argue the 2013 G-Class doesn't tick each and every one of those boxes.
On sale: Now
Base price: $113,395 (G550); $134,395 (G63 AMG)
Engine: 5.5-liter V-8 (G550); 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 (G63 AMG)
Power: 388 hp @ 6000 (G550); 544 hp @ 5500 rpm (G63 AMG)
Torque: 391 @ 2800-4800(G550); 560 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm (G63 AMG)
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Drive: Four-wheel; two-speed transfer case
Curb weight: 5578-5625 lb
Tires: 265/60R18 (G550); 275/50R20 tires (G63 AMG)
0-60 MPH: 6.0 seconds (G550), 5.3 (G63 AMG)
2013 Mercedes Benz G63 AMG Front View In Motion
What to make of the fact that the Mercedes-Benz Galendewagen has seen a nearly fifty percent increase in sales from 2009 to 2011? The fact that this vehicle, which was originally designed for military, not civilian, use, is now more than thirty years old (it dates from 1979) apparently does little to deter its well-heeled buyers. Nor does the ancient SUV's appalling gas mileage (13 mpg combined city/highway, in the case of the G550). The fact that a GL, or an ML, is far roomier inside also appears to be irrelevant.
One assumes that most of those buyers rarely if ever use the G-wagen's three (!) locking differentials, or seriously tap into this vehicle's incredible off-road skill set -- which includes the ability to climb, or descend, a 45-degree slope. That off-road ability is the only rational reason to choose a G-class over one of Mercedes' far more modern SUVs. But rationality probably has little to do with a G-class purchase.
After three decades with only minimal changes, the G-wagen has emerged as an icon. The boxy design is now seen as a throwback style statement. This utilitarian vehicle has morphed into a wild-child image machine.
That idea that outrageous is a core component of the G-wagen's appeal is supported by this statistic: The AMG version has traditionally accounted for a majority of G-wagen sales. In no other Mercedes model line is the AMG version so popular.
Model year 2013, then, will be an important one for G-wagen clientele. After the G55 AMG disappeared for 2012 (only the G550 is currently sold in the United States), the AMG G-class returns, in the form of the new, 2013 G63 AMG.
Mercedes may be loath to mess with the G-wagen's design, but there's always room for a little more bling. Thus the 2013 model welcomes a strip of LEDs under the round headlights, red brake calipers, twenty-inch wheels, and a more aggressive lower fascia punctuated by three huge air intakes.
Mercedes also continues to build on the amusing dichotomy between the G's militaristic exterior and its Sybaratic interior. New interior features include a console-mounted knob controller for the standard Comand multi-media interface; a new iPad-style TFT-screen that sprouts out of the dash; and available Designo interior that decks out the upright cabin in quilted leather. A new electrical architecture allows such up-to-the-minute conveniences as internet access, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot assist.
Having bowed out with the old, supercharged, 5.5-liter V-8 under the hood, the AMG G-class returns with the new, 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 (having skipped over the normally aspirated 6.2-liter engine seen in most other AMG models). Now cranking out 544 hp (up from 507) and 560 pound-feet of torque, the burly new V-8 still emits a deep rumble from its side-exiting exhausts but also -- amusingly -- comes with auto stop/start. From rest, the AMG V-8 can have this tall, heavy beast hurtling along at 62 mph in only 5.4 seconds. Hauling it back down again are new brakes that feature six-piston calipers up front. Mercedes claims that the suspension has been revised for more dynamic handling -- too bad the steering, which is unbelievably slow and full of friction, discourages any exploration of the G's enhanced cornering abilities.
The greater disappointment for G-wagen buyers, however, probably would be that the G63 is not, in fact, the zenith of G-wagen outrageousness. Two other variants are even more absurd: the two-door convertible (complete with power top); and the G65 AMG, powered by a biturbo V-12 with 612 hp. Unfortunately, the two wildest G-wagens are not available in the United States.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

On sale: July
Base price: $129,000 (estimated)
Engine: 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V-8
Power: 544 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 560 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Drive: Four-wheel
Curb weight: 5625 lb
Wheels: 9.5 x 20 in
Tires: 275/50R20 tires
2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

New For 2013

After a one-year hiatus, the AMG G-wagen makes a triumphant return for 2013. The performance gurus in Affalterbach, Germany, have dropped their new twin-turbo V-8 into the engine bay, where it makes 544 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque. Both the G63 and the G550 have received a restyled interior with a new seven-inch infotainment screen and mild exterior tweaks. The G550 V-8 gets a power increase of 6 hp.


New utility vehicles designed with on-road comfort as the top priority have left the G-class without peer. It still rides on rigid axles with an all-wheel-drive system that uses a two-speed transfer case and three electronically locking differentials to provide world-class off-road ability. Its military roots might be obvious when you look at the underbody, but the G-class delivers an exceptional interior just as you’d expect from Mercedes-Benz. Ten-way heated and ventilated power seats, dual-zone climate control, and a Harman Kardon stereo are standard. In three decades of production, the formidable Geländewagen has received few updates. There’s surprisingly little rear-seat room for such a big vehicle. The slow-acting recirculating-ball steering is endearingly retro or annoying, depending on your viewpoint. The door handles are difficult to operate, and the doors are difficult to close completely once you’re inside the cabin. The AMG model is a sort-of rolling contradiction, with its sticky street tires, furious twin-turbo V-8, and off-road mechanicals. Even the base G550 is frighteningly quick. For 2013, its V-8 gets an uptick in horsepower to 388. Some of its rivals might be more comfortable to drive, but with its old-school credibility, boxy good looks, and extreme off-road capability, the Geländewagen still reigns supreme.


ABS; front, side, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; and tire-pressure monitoring are standard.

You'll like:

  • Hard-core off-roading ability
  • Sumptuous interior
  • Classic style

You won't like:

  • Unpolished road manners
  • Exceptionally thirsty
  • Costs as much as a tank

Key Competitors For The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-class

  • Infiniti QX56
  • Land Rover LR4
  • Land Rover Range Rover
  • Lexus LX570
G63 Amg 6x6 Soaring
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG is a good off-roader. It’s got a big 5.5-liter 536-hp twin-turbo V-8 engine that makes a whopping 561 lb-ft of torque. It also boasts intelligent all-wheel drive and three sequentially locking differentials. As far as luxury off-road SUVs go, Gelandewagen remains one of the best names in the business.
Brabus Mercedes Benz G63 AMG Dubai Police Car Front Three Quarters View
Last we heard, the Dubai Police Force’s patrol fleet included a Bugattti Veyron, a Lamborghini Aventador, a Ferrari FF, a Bentley Continental GT, an Aston Martin One-77, and a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. That’s one amazing list of cars, but apparently, the cops in Dubai felt its fleet lacked one thing: a Brabus-tuned Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG.
Brabus B63 S 700 6x6 Live 04
Brabus is known for taking Mercedes-Benz AMG models to the next level, and the German tuner has outdone itself with its latest creation, the insane B63 S-700 6x6. Based on the extremely rare Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6, the B63S-700 6x6 adds 154 hp to the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 for a total of 690 hp with the help of two Brabus turbochargers with more boost, revised engine mapping, and a special sport exhaust system.
2013 Mercedes Benz G63 AMG Front Left Side View 2
The G63 and its lesser-powered sibling, the G550, have neither the room nor the utility nor the efficiency nor the refinement nor the modernity of their GL-class siblings, but they have several things that the GL-class doesn't have, including character, provenance, and three locking differentials. If you've got the dough and the desire, I say, indulge yourself, but you might also want something a little more anodyne in your garage for driving excursions that require a bit more subtlety.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

2013 Range Rover And Mercedes Benz G63 Front View
On this week's episode of Head 2 Head, the 2013 Range Rover and 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG dirty their fancy suits when Jonny Lieberman takes them off-roading before determining which super expensive SUV is better.

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2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Specifications

Quick Glance:
5.5L V8Engine
Fuel economy City:
12 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
15 MPG
388 hp @ 6000rpm
391 ft lb of torque @ 2800rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front (optional)
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player (optional)
  • CD Changer
  • DVD
  • Navigation
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
Unlimited miles / 999 months
IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength

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