The Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the boxy, body-on-frame, off-road behemoth that has changed little since it moved from a military vehicle to a consumer offering in 1979, is getting some serious upgrades for
a new generation.
Today’s G-Class dates back to 1972 when it was introduced for military use. Even with a new iteration on the way, set to be revealed in just over a week at the North American International Auto Show, we’ve seen there’s little changing in terms of design.
Over the last few years, Mercedes has moved the G-Class SUV upmarket with high-quality and luxurious materials. It’s even tried to squeak into the performance market with an AMG model, packing a 6.0-liter V12 engine with a top speed of 150 miles per hour while returning abysmal fuel economy.
Even as the Mercedes moved the G-Class more upmarket, following the likes of Land Rover, driving dynamics were never the SUV’s strongest attribute – and something a V12 engine didn’t help with either.
While the G-Wagen is quite popular amongst automotive enthusiasts worldwide, the SUV didn’t officially enter the U.S. market until 2002. However, gray-market versions were sold before then for exuberant prices.
Little has changed for the G-Wagen since 1972. It’s also easy to forget about the Mercedes licensed the G-Class to Peugeot under license specifically for military use. The company was never allowed to export the vehicle to any other country other than to those where the French military was present.
Mercedes is making the next-generation G-Class more livable without making it wider than the outgoing model thanks to better interior packaging. Engine choices haven’t been revealed yet, but it’s safe to same AMG will get in on the action.
Mercedes knows not to change the ladder-type frame. There will still be three differential locks and low range for off-road prowess. However, there will be other upgrades like an AMG designed independent double-wishbone suspension and nine-speed automatic transmission with torque converter.
While the classic G-Class is going away, Mercedes is keeping the spirit quite well alive in the next generation.