First some acknowledgments. The aesthetics of the G-Wagen are not for everyone. Based on informal polling of friends, I am in the minority. Second, I will not seek to defend the fuel consumption of th...
First some acknowledgments. The aesthetics of the G-Wagen are not for everyone. Based on informal polling of friends, I am in the minority. Second, I will not seek to defend the fuel consumption of this vehicle. It would be great if MB brought a diesel version in to the states (as well as a model with a more utilitarian, unleash-the-hose-on-the-interior functionality to it), but they don't.
To start with, this a truly "go anywhere" vehicle. It handles the off-road (and some times "barely a road") nirvana that weaves through the Continental Divide with aplomb. I am a rank amature compared to some of my friends who salivate over the locking differentials, but the vehicle and all of its off-road tools are relatively easy to operate as long as one is sensible enough to use them only as directed. The skid plates are absurdly robust, and on sheer weight alone probably compromise the overall mileage of the vehicle. While I have not had any incident with the quad pipes, their placement beneath the undercarriage is a bit of a head-scratcher. The boxy nature of the G550, which tends to make one drive more cautiously on curvey roads (see below) has no impact at low off-road speeds - the center of gravity of the vehicle never seems out of place. The truck instills confidence.
I am only a few weeks in to true winter driving with the truck, but so far have been very pleased. The four wheel drive system seems to smoothly take on everything from heavy snow to icy conditions. That being said, Blizzaks undoubtedly get some of the credit.
On dry roads the truck is capable, but not coddling. Those who like the vault-like solitude of a Range Rover will find nothing appealing about the G-Wagen - the square lines of the truck alone telegraph that there will be no-wind-cheating going on. Nevertheless, with the benefit of good quality front seats (the back bench seat is merely passable), many MB creature comforts and a quality stereo, driving is a pleasant experience. One of my primary reservations about purchasing the vehicle was reading some negative reviews about driving comfort over prolonged journeys given the stiff ride of the G550. I have had no such experience.
As for driving streets and highways under normal conditions, the truck is inordinately responsive given its weight thanks to the powerful engine. It has no problem merging on to a highway or driving at higher speeds. On the curves, however, moderation is in order. The truck looks like a high, boxy vehicle and it is.
I only have about 3,000 miles on the truck at this point, but have not had any mechanical difficulties. On longer trips there have been a couple of occasions where the navigation system has not been available because the hard drive system is too hot. Confess to not having had that checked yet. A couple of quirky anomolies - the front windshield has micro-wiring for defrost (in addition to a typical blown-air system). It takes a little while to get used to the impact on your visual field. Also, all of the right angles of the truck create some unusual reflections on the windows, particular with headlights at night. Not to the point of annoyance, but takes some getting used to.
Finally, the overall utility of the vehicle is tremendous. Interior hauling capacity, whether the rear seats are up or down, is quite good. Other reviews have noted that the rear wheel-wells compromise optimal use of the rear space, and it is a fair point, but capacity is so generous that it rarely matters. The roof is huge (you can rack two full rows of bikes) and so strong that it allows for great rack use (recommend a ladder for the rear door, and have had great success with the Yakima track system). MB also has a great roof-tent package (need to get it through a European vendor) which will make every child in the family (regardless of age) smile when you convert the truck in to a bunk bed on wheels.
The truck is not for everyone, and MB has hurt itself on a few of the details (won't fight the brush bar, but does it have to be in chrome?). De-badged and dirty, it feels like a pair of jeans with a nice sport jacket - can walk in to a decent restaurant, or roll up your sleeves and chop some wood. It's a pretty nice combo.