Thirty years is a long time in the automotive industry, especially when you consider that many of the vehicle nameplates you see today weren’t around then. Some weren’t even around 10 years ago. But one vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, or Geländewagen as it’s affectionately called in its homeland, has been around since then, since 1979 in fact.
Sadly, the military-grade Mercedes-Benz G-Class is soon to meet its demise
, but that doesn’t mean that the last year of its model run should be avoided.
The G Wagon is unique in that it still uses a body-on-frame design with no less than three fully locking differentials underneath its gown.
The vehicle also comes with a luxurious interior, powerful V-8 engines and horrendous fuel economy--11/15 mpg city/highway--which is hard to come by these days, even for a full-size SUV.
The other oddity is that pricing for this beast starts at $104,000, making this the most expensive SUV on the market. Its only real competitor was the HUMMER H2 but with that model long-gone, the closet competitor now would be the Land Rover Range Rover.
So what do you get for all that cash? Well, quite a lot actually. The 2011 Mercedes-Benz G-Class comes in only two trim levels, the base G550 model and high-performance G55 AMG variant.
The base model comes powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 with a generous 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. It also gets a seven-speed automatic transmission and 18-inch wheels as standard.
Opt for the extreme AMG model, however, and you get a supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 with a heady 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque on tap. Not surprisingly, fuel economy drops as low as 11/15 mpg city/highway. This model gets a beefier five-speed automatic, 19-inch alloys and special chrome trim with illuminated door sills.
Performance differences between the two are significant, with the G550 model taking around 8 seconds to go from 0-60 mph, while the G55 will do it in just 5.4 seconds. Top speed for both models is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Handling is hardly impressive, with the vehicle’s tall height certainly being felt when going around corners. The top-heavy feel also requires special attention when driving at highway speeds. Grip, on the other hand, is nothing short of spectacular and when off-road only a dedicated four-wheel drive will better it.
There aren’t any official crash safety scores for the G-Class but anti-lock brakes with brake assist, a litany of airbags and a rearview camera all make it quite safe.
For a detailed look at the 2011 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, head over to TheCarConnection
for the full review of the virtually identical 2010 model.