Is Mercedes finally giving the Geländewagen a proper update?

The Geländewagen, otherwise known as the G-Class or G-Wagen, has been around for nearly 40 years. It’s served in Germany’s military forces, traversed terrible terrain all across the world, and even conquered the sophisticated streets of Rodeo Drive in California. Yep, the G-Wagen has been everything from an army grunt’s get-around to the go-to vehicle of the rich and famous.

Even AMG has its versions of the high-riding SUV, including the insanely powerful G65 AMG with its twin-turbocharged V-12 and the ridiculously large G65 AMG 6x6 with its three Portal axles and pickup bed.

Now it seems Mercedes might finally be giving the iconic G-Wagen a full makeover. And not just new body panels or an updated steering wheel. No, this appears to be a full-on generational change with new parts from the ground up. These spy photos show the SUV looking wider and longer than its current version, suggesting all-new underpinnings.

Let’s dive in and see what Mercedes is up to.

Continue reading for more information.

  • Year:
    2018
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    Seven-Speed Automatic (Est.)
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    416 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
    450 (Est.)
  • Energy:
    biturbo
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L (Est.)
  • 0-60 time:
    5.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine, AWD w/ Low Range
  • Price:
    125000 (Est.)
  • size:
  • body style:

Exterior

2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class - image 683653
2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class - image 683645
2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class - image 683649

This might look like an ordinary G-Wagen at first glance, but upon closer inspection, it’s easy to see this test mule is much wider than the current model. The width really becomes apparent when looking at the mule side-by-side with the current SUV. Notice how the test mule’s front end expands outward from a narrow grille. There is extra width can be seen on either side of the headlights. The vehicle’s full width begins just before the A-pillars. This gives the new G-Wagen that classic front end, but adds far more space for interior comfort.

The iconic looks isn’t lost on the rest of the vehicle, either. The wide fender flares are still present, as is the low beltline, nearly vertical windshield, and flat side glass and roof. Around back, the rear door is still a swing-away type with the spare tire hung on. Mercedes will likely do something different with the taillights (think LED units), but this engineering mule makes do with the current units. A tow hitch is also spotted, suggesting Mercedes isn’t stripping the G-Wagen of its rugged utilitarian nature.

Interior

Sadly our spy photography couldn’t nab any shots of the interior, but we suspect Mercedes will give the Geländewagen some impressive accommodations. The current interior trend can be seen in the S-Class and E-Class sedans. Though perhaps not as swoopy, expect this level of high-end materials and design.

The standard front bucket, rear bench design will likely carry over, leaving room for cargo behind the second row. Don’t expect Mercedes to try cramming a third row back there, despite the newfound interior volume.

Drivetrain

The G-Wagen will surely have a slew of powertrain options, including diesel and gasoline options. Here in the U.S., expect the main engine choice to be the 4.0-liter biturbo V-8. This engine currently makes 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes could squeak in an update before this new G-Class hits dealers, likely for the 2018 model year.

The engine will likely be mated to Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic transmission. Undoubtedly, the new G-Class will come standard with 4WD. Engineers could update the 4WD technology, though, diving the G-Wagen a more modern, full-time AWD system with low range gears. Expect the front and rear differential locks to return.

Prices

2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class - image 683652

It’s way too early to accurately forecast pricing, but we fully expect the new G-Wagen to cost more than the outgoing model. The 2016 G550 starts at $119,900 in the U.S., with the AMG G63 starting at $139,00. For those with more money than sense, the AMG G65 with its V-12 engine starts at $217,900.

For the next-generation G-Wagen, expect prices to start around $125,000.

Competition

Land Rover Range Rover

2013 - 2015 Land Rover Range Rover - image 472230

The Land Rover Range Rover is perhaps the best-known luxury off-roaders in the world. Its heritage stems back to Britain’s Imperialistic days of exploration, forging paths though thick jungles and trekking across the wild planes of Africa. This modern, high-tech interpretation is far removed from the low-tech ‘Rovers of yesteryear. The current Range Rover rides on an aluminum monocoque structure with independent suspension fitted with air ride, and powered by sophisticated engines like Jaguar Land Rover’s supercharged 5.0-liter V-8.

That air suspension allows the Range Rover to tackle rough terrain one minute and hit triple digit speeds on the highway the next. This versatility is nearly unmatched in the industry.

Pricing reflects that functionality, however, with the “base” Range Rover starting at $84,940. Opt for the high-end SVAutobiography model with the extended wheelbase, and you’re looking at $200,000.

Read more about the Land Rover Range Rover here

Lexus LX570

2016 Lexus LX 570 - image 640410

In relation to the G-Wagen and Range Rover, the LX570 seems downright humble. That’s far from the truth, however, as Lexus gave this SUV a full makeover for 2016. It shares the same underpinnings and powertrain as the highly respected Toyota Land Cruiser, which is also all-new for 2016. The Lexus obviously appeals to a wealthier subset, making it the proper choice in this competition.

Power comes form the venerable 5.7-liter V-8 making 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. Like the Range Rover, it can tow 7,000 pounds. It’s top speed is limited at 137 mph, down from the 155-mph governed speeds of the G-Wagen and Range Rover. (Who goes that fast in these vehicles anyway?) The Lexus also features a full-time 4WD system with a Torsen limited-slip center differential that splits power between the front and rear axles.

Pricing for the 2016 Lexus LX570 starts at $88,880. Select all the options and the price jumps to roughly $96,000. That’s a bargain compared to the Merc and ‘Rover.

Read more about the Lexus LX570 here

Conclusion

2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class - image 683654

Mercedes has held on to the G-Wagen’s traditional body-on-frame, solid-axles, and big V-8 power for nearly four decades. That’s commendable when most automakers are moving to softer, more family friendly crossovers and tall-riding wagons. Nowadays, the G-Wagen is seen more as a status symbol – an icon of independence and wealth reserved for those who value image over functionality.

While the G-Wagen is perhaps one of the best off-roaders of the ultra luxury SUV category, its limited interior space, tractor-like ride, and old-school in-dash technology limit its appeal.

These updates will surely make the G-Wagen more competitive in the market, furthering Mercedes’ stranglehold on high-end automobiles. This, combined with Mercedes’ upcoming midsize pickup truck, will definitely do wonders for Benz’s bottom line.

  • Leave it
    • Likely too utilitarian for most
    • Prices expected to rise

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