This was my first time behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz G-wagen, and I hope it's not the last.
The G-wagen's square-edged, love-it-or-hate-it styling provoked many double-takes from pedestrians and other drivers. The chrome brush guard hovering over the headlights gives the front end of the G550 an off-road look that matches the vehicle's capabilities. While I was sitting at a stoplight, the driver of a car next to me rolled down his window and yelled, "What IS that thing?"
The interior of the G550 is equally as appealing. There's plenty of front-seat headroom, and front passengers get an enormous, panoramic 180-degree view of everything. The A-pillars are skinny, and the windshield is so close you feel like you can reach out and touch the hood. Rear passengers don't fare as well, as rear-seat legroom is skimpy.
The 382-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 produces an amazing engine note during heavy acceleration, helped by the fact that the exhaust is routed to each side of the vehicle, just ahead of the rear wheels. Road noise and wind noise are minimal, especially for such a cube-shaped vehicle, and the G550 rides surprisingly well considering its solid front and rear axles. During my 130-mile round-trip commute, I found the EPA numbers to be spot on, as I saw 13 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
The G550 is definitely unlike any other passenger vehicle on the road. If you can get past the sticker shock, you'll probably love it as much as I did.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Editor