2002 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

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$72,500

starting MSRP

2002 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2002 Mercedes-Benz G-Class trim comparison will help you decide.

2002 Mercedes-Benz G-Class review: Our expert's take

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The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

Say you’ve got a fat wad to blow on an SUV. Lexi are too common. Ditto Escalades. Humvees are old news.

How to show the neighbors a couple acres away in the next McMansion that you’re hot stuff?

Maybe a Mercedes-Benz G500 is your answer.

The G stands for Galaende-wagen. That’s German for ”cross country vehicle.”

Originally designed for use by the German army to patrol borders, its boxy shape dates to sometime after the first energy crisis.

Built in Graz, Austria, by Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the G500 is finally being imported by Mercedes-Benz after years of gray market imports. Two-thousand a year will enter this country at a starting price of $72,500. That’s a bargain compared to the $135,000-plus tariff asked by some importers.

Still, is this four-wheel-drive automotive brick really worth it?

Depends on how insecure you are.

The G500 driver sits high in the saddle, with a roof so high, even the Kaiser’s pointed helmet could fit without brushing the headliner. It has the Mercedes bank vault feel when you slam the doors, giving the impression that this vehicle could outlast the next war, not to mention the next battle over a parking space at Wal-Mart.

The G500’s imposing slab sides and tall stance provide an incredible feeling of space inside the vehicle that belies its relatively short 183.5 inch length. This also means slowing down for corners, as rollovers are a hazard for such high-profile vehicles. However, the Electronic Stability Program helps keep things on an even keel.

Power is quite strong. The 5-liter V-8 is rated at 292 horsepower, fed through a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Four-wheel-drive is constantly engaged, with a high and low gear as well as front, center and rear locking differentials.

The ride off-road is firm, but quite good. Most owners will never take it any farther off-road than the bush at the end of the driveway. Still, this off-road alacrity is tempered by a highway ride with a jiggle. It has loads of ground clearance and a very tight turning radius.

Inside, Mercedes-Benz has tried to endow the G500 with luxury accoutrements. That means the usual dose of wood and leather. It certainly helps. But there’s too much hard plastic and squared-off edges to fully hide its military past. There’s an industrial feel to the interior.

The gauges and controls come straight from the C-Class, the Mercedes-Benz least-expensive line. The instrument cluster’s half-moon shape is every bit as easy to understand in the G-Class as it is in the lesser C-Class. Ditto the simple automatic climate controls.

But the Mercedes-Benz ”COMMAND” center can be just as daunting to figure out as it is elsewhere. ”COMMAND” combines controls for the navigation system, cell phone and stereo in one unit. While the audio controls are simple enough, the rest of it can be tough to figure out without instructions. Without a manual, I couldn’t figure out how to map a course to State College, necessitating a call via Mercedes-Benz’s Tele-Aid. I was then informed that it would cost $2.95 plus airtime to answer one simple question.

Well, at least it was cheaper than filling the tank.

Normally, I accept an SUV’s lousy gas mileage as part of the equation. These vehicles are built for tough tasks, not fuel efficiency. But the 9 mpg in the city, 14.5 mpg on the highway and overall average of 13 mpg was a bit eye-opening. Keep in mind my final stint in the G500 returned a mere 7 mpg on premium fuel.

But this vehicle is all about standing apart, uh, make that above the crowd. The Mercedes-Benz G500 is for those who find conformity uncomfortable and subtlety unsavory.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.9
  • Interior design 4.1
  • Performance 3.9
  • Value for the money 3.6
  • Exterior styling 5.0
  • Reliability 3.6

Most recent consumer reviews

4.7

High class vehicle.

This car is in excellent condition. If I sell the vehicle is because I did not used it much time. But is perfect and comfortable.

5.0

Very fun

It is Great vehicle but it is a gas guzzler. Very fun. Love the ride. Lots of options. I personally would by it. Though I don't car about gas mileage.

4.0

Expensive, but has kept fun, value and exclusivity

The 2002 G 500 was the first year of importation by MBUSA. I have had mine since 2006, initially as daily driver now just for fun, it now has 105k miles, 40k when I got it. Even used, they're expensive to buy and not very practical, but the car has barely lost value or appeal, considering it's 40th anniversary is 2019. On the highways, the right tires on the huge 18inch 265R60 wheels make for a smooth ride. The V8 allows for agility, but the thing moves like a light tank and weighs as much. While everyone else's bumpers are made of plastic, there's real metal here, with matching industrial-grade frame, suspension and steering, resulting in about 14 mpg (premium gas, bitte). Annual maintenance costs me between $300-600 a year without major repairs. So far. The car tells me when it's time for oil change and maintenance. I have not had serious rust issues. Parts are easily available but expensive. The view down on the other cars is superior, but the dark tinting of the rear quarters make backing-up after dark a nightmare, since you can't see anything and there is no back-up camera or parking sensors. Which might as well, since, speaking of sensors, ABS/BAS/etc sensors are finicky and failure-prone. Same for various buttons such as power window and power seat controls, which I had replaced once only to find out that quality of the replacements matched the old ones. The front seats are very comfortable, the back is comfortable for two adults, three is cramped. A Honda Pilot is roomier. There are reading lights and seat warmers for the four outside seats. Leather is standard. It feels classy, anno 2002. The low range gears and differential locks add a sense of adventure and invincibility. The 5 inch navigation screen with its CD-ROM -it takes a set of 6 CD-ROMs to cover the whole US- and the trunk-positioned 6-CD-changer of 15 years ago reminds us how far automotive infotainment has come. The independent MB mechanic and I don't know of a way to connect my smart phone to the stereo that does not involve major surgery. It's been fun to search the on-line world for tasteful affordable OEM accessories such as mud flaps or jump seats, and there is a delightful G-wagen community out there.

See all 10 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Mercedes-Benz
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
6 years old or less/less than 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
1 year/unlimited miles
Powertrain
1 year/unlimited miles
Dealer certification required
164-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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