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Best Bets get average or better mpg, have average or better reliability, good crash-test ratings, and our experts' recommendations.
By Cars.com Staff
June 19, 2006
Vehicle Overview Mercedes-Benz touched up the G500, a former military vehicle, by improving the seat cushioning and providing leather door-handle grips for 2007. A new standard seven-speed transmission and DVD navigation feature were also added.
Exclusive chrome trim and "V8 Kompressor" badging identify the G55 AMG, which has larger vented and slotted front brakes. Monoblock AMG 18-inch wheels are 9.5 inches wide. Interior features include "designo" charcoal Nappa leather upholstery, AMG gauges and natural maple wood trim.
Mercedes-Benz focuses largely on road-going manners with its M-Class model, but the G-Class is a hard-core offroad machine. Handcrafted in Graz, Austria, the G-Class competes against the Hummer H1 and Land Rover Range Rover.
New limited-production Grand Editions of both models debuted in summer 2005 and feature velour floormats and special interior choices.
Exterior This distinctive SUV's strictly utilitarian appearance is somewhat softened by body-colored bumpers and rocker panels and a stainless-steel spare-tire cover. At 185.6 inches long overall on a 112.2-inch wheelbase, the G-Class is 3 inches shorter than the 2006 M-Class, but it stands 6.3 inches taller.
Rigid front and rear axles and three locking differentials are installed. In extremely low-traction situations, a little grip on one front wheel should be enough to pull the G-Class through a trouble spot.
Interior Leather upholstery is complemented by burl walnut or maple wood trim. For 2007, the front seat cushions have been improved and the door-handle grips are wrapped in leather. DVD navigation is also newly standard.
Standard equipment includes automatic climate control, power windows and locks, 10-way power front seats with three-position memory, a navigation system and Mercedes-Benz's Tele Aid system, which offers emergency and theft-tracking services. The front and rear seats are heated. A Harman Kardon premium sound system includes a six-CD changer. Rear parking assistance is standard.
Under the Hood The 5.0-liter V-8 in the G500 produces 292 horsepower and 336 pounds-feet of torque. An electronically controlled seven-speed automatic transmission sends the power to a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a Low range, which offers shift-on-the-fly operation at up to 15 mph. The G55 AMG's supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 cranks out 469 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque.
Safety Antilock brakes have electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist for automatic full-power braking in panic stops. Mercedes-Benz's Electronic Stability Program and side curtain airbags are standard.
Driving Impressions Though it's far smaller than the Hummer H1, the G500 delivers a comparably unique experience. This SUV conveys the impression of looming height — emphasized by its relatively short, narrow body.
Everything about the G500 seems bolt upright, including the seating positions. Even though the vehicle's height is partly an illusion, there's a tendency to keep its speed way down when rolling through curves and corners. This SUV's operation is defiantly trucklike, and it emits a degree of sluggishness and plenty of sound while accelerating. Not only does the G500 look ready to tackle the most demanding terrain, but it also feels ready — which detracts from its prowess and pleasure on ordinary paved surfaces.
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