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2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 Quick Test: Shameless Ridiculousness Is Good

G is still for glorious, and then some.

Ed TahaneyWriter, Photographer

LOS ANGELES—The Ford Bronco is finally back, as is the Land Rover Defender, but the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon is still around after four decades—and it's better than ever.

In terms of street presence, it's perhaps difficult to not still prefer the Mercedes-Benz G550; it is a tall, boxy, and beautiful off-roader that can take you anywhere you want to go in unique "style." It has three differential locks and an independent front-axle suspension, it can ford rivers (or local flash floods) up to 27.6-inches deep, and it can even crawl the long lines around your nearest Starbucks drive-thru. The only potential challenge of conducting a 2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 test drive might be the fact it doesn't fit inside of your garage.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 we sampled for this test drive measures 189.7 x 85.7 x 77.2 inches (L x W x H). It rolled on optional, 20-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels with black accents shod with 275/50 R-20 Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season rubber. Fortunately, the G550 comes with a standard power tilt/sliding sunroof that makes it easy to see what's above you, and I was able to just squeeze the beast into my garage with less than a half-inch to spare. Granted, if you can afford to own and drive a G-wagen, you likely own a garage to match.

The stylish Geländewagen has been around since 1979, and the new model arrived in 2019, when we named it an Automobile All-Stars winner. For 2020, there's a new G-Manufaktur Program that allows for more customization options, including new paint colors and upholstery choices. Our G550 test-drive model carried an impressive Iridium Silver Metallic paint job with a Yacht Blue Leather interior that looked and felt superb.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 Test Drive: Performance

While the sportier, performance-based Mercedes-AMG G63 steals most of the attention, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 is a top choice to live with, other than its EPA-mileage rating of 13/14 mpg city/highway.

Under the hood, the 2020 G550 packs a potent 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 that makes 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. The G-wagen can sprint from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds, and has a limited top speed of 130 mph.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 Test Drive: Notable Extras

Optional goodies for our G550 includes the Night Package ($1,900) that sports Obsidian Black grille trim and mirrors, spare-wheel cover, and tinted lights. It also received the DG1 AMG Line treatment ($3,470) that adds AMG body styling, flared wheel arches, brake calipers with Mercedes-Benz lettering, and a deeply satisfying sport-exhaust system.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 Test Drive: Interior

Inside the cabin, upgrades included the G-Manufaktur Interior Package Plus ($13,050) with lots of Nappa leather, including for the dash, doors, and cargo-area trim, designo Dinamica headliner, and delightful massaging and rapid-heating/ventilated front seats. In addition, it featured a handy heated steering wheel ($250) and a 12.3-inch widescreen instrument cluster ($850). This brought the base price of $131,895 up to $151,415. Yes, yikes indeed, but also worth it for G-wagen devotees, well-to-do off-roaders, and luxury fans.

In terms of usability, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 provides 38.1-cubic-feet of cargo space that's expandable to 68.6 cubic feet with the second row of seats folded down. Surprisingly, the seats don't fold completely flat, but there's still plenty of room to haul your trunks full of ill-gotten loot, or at least plenty of groceries. Standard safety nannies include active braking-distance assist, lane-keeping and parking assist, blind-spot monitoring, and more.

If you're looking for a luxurious off-roader that will be right at home battling the Sahara dunes or cruising down Rodeo Drive, or anywhere else, look no further than the 2020 Mercedes-Benz G550. Just don't forget to first make sure you have enough headroom in the garage.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 Pros

  • Built to last
  • Off-road and drive-thru ready
  • Smooth ride
  • Go-anywhere capability

2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 Cons

  • Fuel economy
  • Rear seats don't fold completely flat
  • May not fit in your garage
  • Price not for the faint of wallet
2020 Mercedes-Benz G550 Specifications
PRICE $131,895/$151,415 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/416 hp @ 5,250-5,500 rpm, 450 lb-ft @ 2,250-4,750 rpm
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 13/17 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 189.7 x 85.7 x 77.2 in
WHEELBASE 113.8 in
WEIGHT 5,551 lb
0-60 MPH 5.6 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph