2021 Mercedes-Benz G-class is again the best in class!
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz G-class is again the best in class, but it isn't just a six-figure SUV driven by the rich and famous. It's an unmistakable off-road icon that lives up to its considerable reputation. Sure, the G-class's lofty price tag means it's only available to folks in a particular tax bracket. Still, anyone can appreciate the tall and square design that has been its calling card for decades. While Mercedes carefully evolved the Geländewagen's outward appearance during a recent redesign, the company significantly improved its road manners with a more sophisticated independent front suspension. Its more gigantic proportions also make it roomier than its predecessors. The styling and materials inside now fit its luxury pedigree. We have to admit that the optical change is visible for fans only. If you're new to the game, you want to see the differences at first sight. Of course, the G-Wagon wouldn't be complete without a sturdy frame, ample ground clearance, and three locking differentials. Powering all four wheels is a potent 416-hp twin-turbo V-8 that pairs with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Those who want a quicker and ritzier—and, of course, even pricier — experience will appreciate the 577-hp Mercedes-AMG G63 (reviewed separately). Still, we think the 2021 G-class is the more classic choice.
What's New for 2021?
The big news for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz G-class is that it's now more customizable than ever. That's because the company's G custom program now offers 34 different exterior colors and 54 interior upholsteries. Other updates include a newly standard 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster and new and fresh options, such as unique 20-inch wheels and an appearance package called Night Package Magno. They look too small, and the tires are looking like balloons. Fortunately, you can check out the LOMA Wheels collection or the LOMA Mercedes G-Class individualization program to make the car look meaner and more aggressive.
Every G-class commands a six-figure price, and the number can get a lot higher with the vast array of expensive options. We'd avoid the priciest upgrades and enhance our version with thoughtful choices. These include the Exclusive Interior package that adds the more superior Nappa leather upholstery and snazzier trim pieces. The Seat Comfort package includes massaging front seats with ventilated cushions, and the available adaptive dampers allow adjustable ride quality. The only other option we'd choose is the heated steering wheel.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Powered by a twin-turbo V-8 that makes 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque, the G550 is as quick on the street as capable on the trail. Those who want an even speedier G-Wagon can opt for the AMG-tuned G63 that makes 577 horses and 627 lb-ft but costs almost $25,000 more to start. All-wheel drive is standard on the G550, and its engine shuttles power through an obedient nine-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 G550 that we tested had much-improved road manners compared with the outgoing model, thanks to an independent front suspension and a lower center of gravity. However, its square and tall body caused a lot of wind noise at higher speeds, and it sure doesn't help the SUV feel swift around corners. Still, the G550's steering feels more precise than ever, and the ride quality is composed on all but the choppiest surfaces. Mercedes also equips each G-class with three locking differentials and low-range gear, which means it can tackle just about any terrain. That, along with generous ground clearance and a maximum towing capacity of 7000 pounds, makes it a useful tool when it's not shuttling socialites.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG are different.
Those who can afford to own a G550 should have deep enough pockets to cover its propensity to swill gasoline. The EPA expects every model to earn 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. After testing the car on the road, we found out that the vehicle failed to meet government expectations, earning 15 mpg, documented on paper.
Interior, the Comfort, and Cargo.
Adding to the G-class's off-road chops, the interior is all about luxury. It offers more space for people and cargo than the previous generation. Standard features include a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster, heated front and rear seats with leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering column, and three-zone automatic climate control. With the check of a few option boxes, buyers can enjoy massaging front seats with ventilation, a heated steering wheel, Nappa leather upholstery, and a digital gauge display. The G Wagon manufaktur options offer the most opulent aesthetic and allow more than 54 unique interior upholsteries. Still, they cost a considerable amount of money. While there's no shortage of headroom in the front or rear seats, the experience isn't as palatial as other high-end SUVs such as the Bentley Bentayga or Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Still, the Benz has tons of cargo space. The version we tested held 16 carry-on suitcases behind its back row and another 17 bags with those seats folded (33 total).
Infotainment and Connectivity.
Every G-Class features an enormous 12.3-inch infotainment display primarily controlled through a rotary knob and touchpad mounted on the center console. Along with useful steering-wheel controls and voice commands, the system is easy to operate and less distracting than touch-heavy alternatives. It also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 15-speaker, 590-watt Burmester audio system. Those looking for further upgrades can add a Wi-Fi hotspot or a rear-seat entertainment system.
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage.
Mercedes-Benz provides a competitive limited and powertrain warranty that aligns with other luxury automakers. However, the company doesn't offer any complimentary scheduled maintenance.
The limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
No complimentary scheduled maintenance
It also covers aftermarket parts if not made in China