2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

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$55,757–$109,993 Inventory Prices
(4.8) 6 reviews
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Key Specs
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Mercedes‑Benz G‑Class. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Distinctiveness
  • Driving visibility
  • Off-road capability
  • Power
  • Attractive dashboard

The Bad

  • Ungainly handling
  • Clumsy ride
  • Fuel economy
  • Road noise
  • Seating position

Notable Features of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

  • Redesigned interior
  • G550 or higher-performance G63 AMG
  • Full-time four-wheel drive
  • Seats five
  • Standard navigation, xenon headlights

2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Road Test

Kelsey Mays

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV is an absurd, over-the-top fossil of a car that people drive to be seen. Whether that justifies owning one depends on how much money you have.

The G-Class' underpinnings date back 33 years, and it takes less than 33 seconds to see evidence of that. Hit the key fob, and the locks clatter open. The door frames, complete with exposed hinges, look like something jungle thugs would drive in a Schwarzenegger or Stallone flick. The cabin is a mix of automotive history and materials befitting the SUV's six-figure price. This is what NBA players, Kardashians and other upper-crusties drive — the automotive equivalent of an antique, wind-up pocket watch.

Mercedes-Benz updated the G-Class for 2013 with minor styling tweaks, a remodeled interior and an updated AMG variant: the 544-horsepower G63 AMG. Compare the two here, or stack up the 2013 and 2012 G-Class here. We tested a G550, whose six-figure price gives it few direct competitors beyond Land Rover's Range Rover and a well-optioned Porsche Cayenne. Compare them here.

Like Driving a Building
The 
Mercedes-Benz G-Class' body-on-frame architecture is built for all-wheel-drive off-roading and towing, as its 7,716-pound maximum towing capacity attests. But the resulting highway manners make for an experience that's like driving a building. The solid-axle suspension — a setup preferred by hard-core off-roaders — lopes along clumsily at highway speeds, sending soft shudders through t...

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV is an absurd, over-the-top fossil of a car that people drive to be seen. Whether that justifies owning one depends on how much money you have.

The G-Class' underpinnings date back 33 years, and it takes less than 33 seconds to see evidence of that. Hit the key fob, and the locks clatter open. The door frames, complete with exposed hinges, look like something jungle thugs would drive in a Schwarzenegger or Stallone flick. The cabin is a mix of automotive history and materials befitting the SUV's six-figure price. This is what NBA players, Kardashians and other upper-crusties drive — the automotive equivalent of an antique, wind-up pocket watch.

Mercedes-Benz updated the G-Class for 2013 with minor styling tweaks, a remodeled interior and an updated AMG variant: the 544-horsepower G63 AMG. Compare the two here, or stack up the 2013 and 2012 G-Class here. We tested a G550, whose six-figure price gives it few direct competitors beyond Land Rover's Range Rover and a well-optioned Porsche Cayenne. Compare them here.

Like Driving a Building
The 
Mercedes-Benz G-Class' body-on-frame architecture is built for all-wheel-drive off-roading and towing, as its 7,716-pound maximum towing capacity attests. But the resulting highway manners make for an experience that's like driving a building. The solid-axle suspension — a setup preferred by hard-core off-roaders — lopes along clumsily at highway speeds, sending soft shudders through the chassis over expansion joints. Wind noise is admirably low for an SUV with the aerodynamics of a boxcar, but constant tire rumble persists.

Changes in direction produce saggy, will-it-tip-over body roll, and anything close to an evasive maneuver has the standard stability system cutting gas and clamping brakes until the SUV rights itself. Not that you'd ever want to drive aggressively; the steering employs an outdated, recirculating-ball setup, and it might as well connect to the front wheels through a telegram messenger. Swing the wheel left or right, and the nose … eventually … responds. Steering feedback is a numb mess, as is the G-Class' awful 43.5-foot turning circle. Drive lightly; the G550 shouldn't be flung around.

At least Mercedes' 5.5-liter V-8 matches well to the SUV, which weighs the equivalent of two Honda Civic sedans. Typical of Mercedes-Benz, the accelerator has a relaxed, gradual progression, but the normally aspirated V-8 hurries the G550 to highway speeds if you push the gas hard. The standard seven-speed automatic displays some kickdown lag but little gear hunting, and a Sport mode eliminates some of the initial gas-pedal sleepiness.

Mercedes estimates the G550 hits 60 mph in just 6 seconds — crazy quick for something this size. The penalty (no surprise) is gas mileage, which the EPA rates an awful 12/15/13 mpg (city/highway/combined). The twin-turbocharged G63 AMG hits 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds with similar EPA mileage. It also has larger disc brakes, which might improve on the G550's soft, unresponsive pedal.

I suspect the G-Class' prodigious off-road capabilities will find minimal usage, but even those capabilities seem yesteryear. The full-time four-wheel-drive system employs a two-speed transfer case and locking front, center and rear differentials — serious hardware. Our tester's wheels clawed easily through wet, tire-deep mud, but without the height-adjustable suspension that other pricey SUVs employ, ground clearance in the G-Class is just 8.1 inches. The Lexus LX has 8.9 inches; the Range Rover adjusts up to 11.6 inches. Mercedes-Benz says the GL-Class can ford 19.7 inches of water; the Ranger Rover can handle 35.4. Approach and departure angles fall short of Land Rover's flagship SUV, too.

Old with the New
A redesign this year added some more contemporary pieces to the 
Mercedes-Benz G-Class' short, shelf-like dashboard — among them a tablet-like navigation screen and a steering wheel and center controls that match those in Mercedes' other cars. The sky-high seating position affords a view of the tops of most other cars, aided by an upright windshield and spindly A-pillars. High-grade leather and wood surrounds you, and the Harman Kardon stereo can blat out distortion-free hip hop, which seems the only appropriate music to blare in a Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

The comforts largely end there. The front seats have short cushions that sag forward as you elevate the seats. Even with the seat-angle adjuster in full-reverse tilt, I felt like I was sliding off. Tall adults will find front legroom scant, hampered by too little rearward adjustment range. A single, flip-out front cupholder hangs your latte inches from the front passenger's knee, and various interior pieces — the solid metal sunroof, the door locks — look lifted from a 1985-era Mercedes-Benz. The rear seats have adequate legroom and a high seating position, but accessing the cargo area's respectable 45.2 cubic feet of space requires opening a heavy swing-gate — and minding the limited clearance behind.

Safety, Features & Pricing
The 
Mercedes-Benz G-Class has not been crash-tested. Standard features include front airbags plus side curtains for both rows, but no torso-protecting side-impact airbags. Antilock disc brakes and an electronic stability system are also standard. The G63 AMG gets larger front and rear discs. No blind-spot warning system here. Click here for a full list of safety features.

The Mercedes-Benz G550 starts at about $115,000. The G63 runs more than $135,000, or about the price of Land Rover's top-tier Range Rover Autobiography Edition. Neither the Mercedes-Benz or AMG version G-Class has any factory spec options. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, cooled and heated front seats, heated seats in back, a navigation system and Harman Kardon audio with USB/iPod integration and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming — plenty of luxury, but well short of the massaging seats, panoramic moonroofs and backseat entertainment systems offered in other upper-crust SUVs.

The AMG G63 adds 20-inch wheels and unique bodywork, as well as the turbo V-8. Shell out more cash, and Mercedes-Benz's Designo program can outfit either G-Class with a multitude of custom paint and leather options.

G-Class in the Market
Mercedes-Benz has no plans to shelve the G-Class body-type anytime soon. Press materials for a loosely related concept car that debuted at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show mused that the iconic off-roader could still be around in 2025. Given the 
Mercedes-Benz G-Class' past few decades, it may not look much different by then. It's like that wind-up watch: all style, limited usability. Problem is, cars these days need to be so much more.

Send Kelsey an email  

 


What Drivers Are Saying

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Performance
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Interior Design
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Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class currently has 2 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / 50,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Mercedes-Benz

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, trip-planning services and Carfax vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    5 years / Unlimited Miles*

    Up to 5 years/Unlimited miles from original in-service date if purchased while under original warranty, or 1 year/Unlimited miles if purchased outside of new-vehicle warranty; no deductible, transferable to subsequent owners
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a Rigorous inspection by factory-certified technicians.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The G-Class received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker