The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Is Bigger and Fancier Than Ever

It might look the same, but this is the first all-new G since the model debuted in 1979.

Mercedes-Benz

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class looks more-or-less the same as all of those that proceeded it. It's not. It's the first all-new Geländewagen since the original debuted in 1979, and it promises to be the best one yet. Today, it's making its debut in V8-powered G550 form before the Detroit Auto Show.

We're going to get straight to the stuff you care about first—the G's chassis. For 2019, the G-Class retains ladder-frame construction and a solid rear axle, but for the first time, it's getting independent front suspension. Double-wishbones bolted directly to the frame, to be precise. While hardcore off-roaders might balk at the G abandoning its solid front-axle, this setup should make this 4x4 much better on road, which is where a lot of Gs spend their time.

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And, Mercedes argues that embracing independent front suspension doesn't hurt the G-Class off-road —on the contrary, the automaker says this G is better than ever. It still offers a permanent four-wheel drive system, but this time it sends 40 percent of its torque to the front axle with the remaining 60 going to the rear, rather than splitting torque evenly. You also get three locking differentials to help out with really difficult terrain, and of course, a low-range gearbox.

Here are all the specs, and how they compare to the previous G for all the off-road nerds among us:

  • Slope climbing ability of up to 100 percent on suitable surfaces
  • Ground clearance between the axles: 9.5 inches
  • Maximum fording depth: 27.6 inches in water and mud passages (+7.5 inches)
  • Driving stability at angles of 35° (+7°)
  • Angle of departure: 30°, angle of approach: 31° (+1°)
  • Breakover angle: 26° (+1°)
  • Suspension travel: Front axle: Spring/rebound travel of 3.3/3.0 inches; rear axle: Spring/rebound travel of 3.2/5.6 inches

    Aiding the G-Class's off-road performance is what Mercedes calls "G-Mode," an electronic program that optimizes the steering, throttle mapping, optional adaptive dampers, and transmission programming for off-road use. G-Mode activates automatically whenever low-range is engaged, or when one of the G's three differentials are locked.

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    Actually, it's worth exploring the 2019 G's steering more in-depth too. It ditches the old G's recirculating ball setup for electric power assistance, which enables Comfort, Sport, and Off-Road steering modes. Electric power steering also means the G-Class will finally be offered with features like parking assistance.

    The G-Class grows in every dimension for 2019. It's 2.1 inches longer than before, 4.8 inches wider, and sits on a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase, but despite this, the 2019 G is around 375 lbs lighter than its predecessor. That's thanks to increased use of high- and ultra-high-strength steel, and aluminum for the hood, doors, and fenders.

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    One of the only carryover components fitted to the 2019 G-Class is its engine, a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. It's largely similar to the unit that AMG fits to virtually all its cars and offers 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes hasn't announced whether there'll be hotter AMG engines for the G, but we'd be shocked if there wasn't.

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    The engine is connected to Merc's familiar 9G-tronic automatic that offers two more ratios than before. The G's transfer case is bolted directly to this gearbox and allows you to engage low-range at speeds of up to 25 mph.

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    Inside, it's a world of difference. The G's growth means the interior is considerably larger, with more space for all occupants. Mercedes included some familiar G-Class components in the 2019's interior—notably a short dashboard and a passenger grab handle—but there's way more luxury than ever before.

    Available is the optional dual-screen gauge cluster/infotainment setup available in the E- and S-Class, and much taller center console. You can also get the G-Class with Multi-contour seats that offer massaging, since no one should be uncomfortable when they off-road. And for the first time, the G-Class has real cupholders. True luxury.

    Mercedes-Benz

    But for all the new fancy interior components, the exterior design of the 2019 G-Class is totally familiar. Some of its edges are a little more rounded than before, and Mercedes touts smaller panel gaps, but it's mostly just classic Geländewagen here. Note details like the external door-hinges, external front turn signals, tailgate-mounted spare tire and the plastic protective strip running the length of the body. Mercedes also promises that the G-Class retains its classic door thunk sound, and we are irrationally excited to put that to the test.

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    The 2019 G-Class will hit production sometime later this year, and as always, it'll be built in Graz, Austria by contract-manufacturer Magna Steyr.

    It sounds like the Geländewagen going to be a much better road car than before, and hopefully that doesn't come at the expense of its off-road abilities. We'll miss the outgoing G, which was thoroughly outdated but wonderfully charming. Hopefully the new one lives up to the old. We can't wait to find out.

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