Acclaimed as the industry's most rugged and iconic sport utility vehicle, the venerable G-Class is entering its fourth decade of production. For the 2010 model year, all G-Class models come with chrome accents around the gear selector, door pulls and rear cargo sill; a sport-tuned exhaust system and restyled side molding and spare wheel cover.
Inside the 2010 G-Class, all models are fitted with a dashboard covered in premium leather; newly designed, 14-way power front seats; a heated wood-leather steering wheel; interior ambient lighting and a 115-volt receptacle in the cargo area.
Two V8-Powered G-Class Models
The 2010 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 G550 can be identified by 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 supercharged V8 features a belt-driven Lysholm (screw-type) 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 new 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, The system 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
New last year, 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 enhanced voice control system.
First developed for military duty and still called the Geländewagen in Europe (for "over-land vehicle"), 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.
Based on Mercedes-Benz' own stringent guidelines, 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 wheelspin 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 ESC
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, Electronic Stability Control. Standard on all Mercedes-Benz models, ESC 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, 14-way heated and ventilated multi-contour front seats with three memory positions, rear heated seats, cruise control, central door locks, dual-zone automatic climate control and even reading lights for the rear passengers.
Standard equipment for the G550 also includes a rear parking assistant that alerts the driver to the proximity of objects located behind the vehicle. The G55 AMG features an exclusive 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, the seat belts also feature belt force limiters that relax the belts slightly to help minimize possible belt-related injuries.