2015 Mercedes-Benz G550: Around the Block
Once a military truck, now a suburban cruiser.
I walk outside to find the G550 parked on a snow bank. Not adjacent to a snow bank, but actually on it, with the left wheels sitting on 8 inches of packed snow. But I'm not annoyed, because a car like the 2015 Mercedes-Benz G550 shrugs off such challenges.
Escaping the snowdrift doesn't even require locking any of the Gelandewagen's three differentials. Like most buyers of the G550, I stick to paved roads. I could ford 19.7 inches of water and bounce over boulders and scale steep hills, but I don't. I turn on the satellite radio and the heated seats and the adaptive cruise control and make a phone call over Bluetooth. In other words, I drive the G550 the way every other U.S. buyer does.
Unfortunately, driving the 2015 Mercedes-Benz G550 is a pretty mediocre experience. There's no escaping the fact that this vehicle was designed decades ago for crossing muddy fields, with few major updates since. I wrench at the slow, lazy steering to keep the G550 from wandering into another lane and see only sky when the nose pitches skyward under acceleration. The flat windows produce an annoying array of reflections at night, and the backup camera is conveniently located so the spare tire carrier blocks part of its view. We accept that a Jeep Wrangler drives badly and has a poor interior because it's affordable and people actually take it on the Rubicon. Those demerits are grating in an expensive luxury vehicle that's meant for the REI parking lot.
Clearly that doesn't matter to buyers. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz G550 may have started life as a hardcore, go-anywhere machine, but today it has been co-opted as a suburban cruiser. It's meant for the Kim Kardashians of the world to flaunt their wealth outside cool clubs and bars. Sure, you could take it over rocks and boulders and mud, but you won't. You want it because it's got a giant three-pointed star on the front. With macho, squared-off looks, the G-wagen is unlike any of the modern, aerodynamically sculpted high-end SUVs your neighbors buy. This old-school truck is cool, unique, and a little bit rebellious.
There are better luxury SUVs and there are better off-roaders, but the G550 makes your friends think you're going to scale mountains on your way to the red carpet. For many American buyers, that's worth the price alone. You absolutely do not need the 2015 Mercedes-Benz G550, but you really want it because it sets you apart from the crowd in way a few other German SUVs can.
2015 Mercedes-Benz G550 Specifications
- Price: $116,325/$116,525 (base/as tested)
- Engine: 5.5-liter, DOHC 32-valve V-8/382 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 391 lb-ft @ 2,800-4,800 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed automatic
- Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
- EPA Mileage: 17/25 city/highway (est)
- L x W x H: 186.5 x 80.9 x 76.8 in
- Wheelbase: 112.2 in
- Weight: 5,578 lb
- Headroom (first/second row): 42.2/40.0 in
- Legroom (first/second row): 52.5/41.9 in
- Shoulder room (first/second row): 53.7/56.3 in
- Cargo room (behind second/first row): 40.3/75.1 cu ft
- Towing: 7,000 lb