We’ve got to be honest here—up until this point, we’ve been more than a little worried for the future of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. While the ancient platform is in desperate need of an overhaul, the square shape and its immense offroad capability made the current G-Class endearingly rough-and-tumble. With a total redesign looming on the horizon, Gelandewagen fans expected to see the slab-sided design supplanted for a rounder, smoother shape, and the mil-spec hardware discarded for all-wheel-drive and road-oriented refinement. You can breathe a sigh of relief—from the looks of a camouflaged mule of the next-gen G-Class, it’s as boxy as we hoped.
The straight-edge lines are here to stay, as is the upright front grille and beefy bumpers. It looks a smidge smoother around the front headlights, but overall, you’d be hard-pressed to pick the 2019 G-Wagen out from a lineup of 2018s—and that’s a good thing.
It looks like the budget for the exterior redesign was redirected to the oily bits under the surface. According to Mercedes, the front rides on a new double-wishbone front suspension that’s mounted higher up in the chassis, while an updated solid axle with four control arms on each side sits at rear.
This translates to an additional 0.2 inches of ground clearance to 9.5 inches total, with maximum fording depth raising to 27.6 from 24 inches. Angle of approach ratchets up to 31 degrees, up one degree over the outgoing truck.
Once you are mired in the depths of some equatorial jungle, the G-Class’ new “G-Mode” helps you scale the slick cliff face. Think of it as a “Race” mode for low-speed trail crawling–once at least one of the differential locks is engaged or you put the truck in Low Range, G-Mode activates to adjust the chassis’ damping, throttle mapping, steering, and transmission settings.
Speaking of that, the 2019 G-Class packs Mercedes’ current 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission, a clear update over the older seven-speed. No word yet on powertrains, but expect an assortment of V-8s and perhaps a twin-turbocharged V-6.
Beyond the off-road capability, Mercedes doesn’t reveal much else about the design or interior, but the cockpit should be a more luxurious and ergonomic place to spend your daily trips to the mall.
Look for more information and pictures of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class closer to the SUV’s global reveal in Detroit later this month.