Mercedes-Benz G-Class Enters Fourth Decade

G-Class – The Industry's Most Rugged and Iconic SUV

Acclaimed as the industry's most rugged and iconic sport utility vehicle, the venerable G-Class is enjoying its fourth decade of production. The G-Class is a no-compromise off-roader with a cliff-climbing, stump-pulling personality. Handcrafted at a special manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria, the G-Class can climb grades up to 36 degrees (80% slopes), and it's even stable on lateral inclines up to 24 degrees (54% slopes), making the G-Class a top performer in its segment.

Two V8-Powered G-Class Models

The 2011 G-Class line includes the V8-powered G550 (382 horsepower, 391 lb.-ft. of torque) and the high-performance G55 AMG (500 hp, 516 lb.-ft.). The 2011-model G550 can be identified by new 18-inch, five-twin-spoke alloy wheels, while the G55 AMG is differentiated by larger 19-inch AMG five-spoke wheels.

The AMG-built 5.5-liter V8 features a belt-driven supercharger, plus a water-cooled intake-air intercooler for 0-60 mph acceleration in just 5.4 seconds. To balance the increased performance, vented and slotted 13.8-inch front brakes provide increased stopping power for the G55 AMG.

In addition to its 19-inch wheels, the G55 AMG is set apart from the G550 by “V8 Kompressor” badging, exclusive chrome trim, stone guards on the turn signal lenses and illuminated AMG door sills.

All G-Class models come with a standard 610-watt digital harman / kardon Logic7 audio system, which can play tracks stored on a data CD, DVD or SD memory card and can display maps and directions for the hard-drive navigation system, which are set up for SIRIUS real-time traffic info and Zagat restaurant ratings as well.

In Command with the COMAND System

The latest COMAND system features a large color display screen with a standard in-dash, six-disc DVD / CD changer and Bluetooth, which allows a phone still in a pocket or purse to be operated through the car's audio system. It's also equipped with an iPod/MP3 interface, SIRIUS-XM satellite radio, HD radio, and a voice control system.

Military Roots

First developed for military duty and still called the Geländewagen in Europe (for “over-land vehicle”), the G-Class features a tough body-on-frame design with a torsionally rigid chassis that also meets all U.S. government crash test standards. Evidence of its military roots, the brawny G-Class suspension makes use of super-strong rigid axles at the front and rear as well as longitudinal and transverse links with coil springs and gas shocks at all four corners. Standard ABS anti-lock brakes help to provide directional control during emergency braking, while Mercedes-Benz Brake Assist ensures full-power braking in emergency stops.

Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive with Three Differential Locks

G-Class models channel their power through a full-time four-wheel-drive system, which distributes torque through front, center and rear differentials, all of which can be independently locked for off-road use while the vehicle is in motion through buttons located on the dashboard.

To reduce wheel spin in extremely low-traction situations, the center and rear differential locks can be engaged anytime that the G-Class is off-pavement. In the most slippery off-road situations – in deep mud, for example – the front differential can also be engaged for maximum traction. The G-Class also comes with a two-speed transfer case that features electronically controlled high and low ranges. Its fully synchronized low range can be engaged on the fly at speeds up to about 15 mph.

Four-Wheel Traction Control and ESP

While differential locks are much appreciated by experienced off-road enthusiasts, the G-Class also comes with four-wheel electronic traction control that will automatically help drivers through on-road and most off-road conditions. Traction control is integrated with another Mercedes-Benz invention, ESP Electronic Stability Control. Standard on all Mercedes-Benz models, ESP can detect an impending spin or slide and applies the brakes on one wheel – front or rear, left or right – to help keep the vehicle on track.

Civilized Civilian Refinement

The G-Class balances its proven off-road credentials and military roots with a liberal dose of sumptuous on-road comfort, a well insulated interior and many technological innovations for safety and convenience from Mercedes cars. The G550 comes with a premium leather interior, burl walnut trim, a heated wood/leather steering wheel, power windows and 14-way heated and ventilated multi-contour front seats with three memory positions.

Standard equipment for the G550 also includes cruise control, central door locks, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear heated seats, and even reading lights for the rear passengers. A rear parking assistant alerts the driver to the proximity of objects located behind the vehicle. All G-Class models come with chrome accents around the gear selector, door pulls and rear cargo sill; a sport-tuned exhaust system, interior ambient lighting and a 115-volt receptacle in the cargo area. The G55 AMG features a designo Nappa leather interior, AMG gauges and natural maple wood trim.

As for safety equipment, all G-Class vehicles come with two-stage front air bags for the driver and front passenger and window curtain air bags that provide greater safety for front and outboard rear passengers in a side impact or rollover. Three-point seat belts help keep all five occupants in place, while outboard seating positions are also fitted with electronic belt tensioners that take slack out of the seat belts in the early stages of a collision. As deceleration forces build during an impact, belt force limiters relax the belts slightly to help minimize possible belt-related injuries.