After having personally owned nine Mercedes-Benzes and driven just about every vehicle with a three-pointed star produced in the last thirty years, I finally get behind the wheel of the thirty-year old G. And I'm in complete, total love. I'm not an SUV kind of guy, but this is not an SUV. It's a freaking tank. It doesn't pretend to be a road car - the sloooowww steering must need fourteen turns of the wheel to get from lock to lock. All the windows are perfectly flat pieces of glass, so you see reflections dancing in your periphery. And the view out? No modern car has visibility this good. Well, except for backing up - you can't see much behind the G, but that's irrelevant--you can just run it over, anyway. (And watch the whole thing unfold on the backup camera.)
Actually, the coolest thing about the G is the intersection of old and new. It looks old because, well, it is. And it feels old. The doors close with an old-world mechanical clank I haven't heard from a Mercedes since the W126-body (1980-1991) S-class. And yet, you push your right foot down and there's no question this is a modern car: the G550 is stupidly fast. Stupid, I say. The seven-speed auto bangs through some of the shortest gear ratios I've ever encountered, and your passengers don't know whether to laugh, cry, or urinate. They'll probably do all three; I did. [You'll be paying the cleaning bill, Cammisa - Ed.] The old 5.0-liter made 292 hp, this beast makes 382. I simply cannot imagine how fast the G55 AMG must feel with 469 supercharged horsepower.
There is definitely only one $100,000 truck for me. None of the offerings from Land Rover even come close to the Mercedes G... God, I love this thing.
Jason Cammisa, West Coast Editor