The all-new 2019 G-Class will be a huge departure from the 1979 original, but despite a wider, longer and taller body, exterior styling changes are subtle. Fans will be happy to hear that the 2019 version of the Austrian off-roader still comes with the usual door handles, external spare tire, and turn-signal indicators on the top of the fenders. However, the interior is on a whole new level.
Most crucially, the new SUV has 1.5 inches of extra legroom at the front, and a noticeable 5.9-inch increase for rear passengers. Thank the 40-mm longer wheelbase! Shoulder width at the front has been increased by 1.5 inches as well, while the rear bench offers 1.1 inches more. Elbow room has also grown by 2.7 and 2.2 inches for front and rear occupants, respectively.
Having been in it, I can tell you that finally, a tall person can sit behind another tall person in a Gelandewagen. That's a huge improvement we only had to wait 39 years for, along with real cupholders, another major selling point of the new G.
To make entry to the rear easier, Mercedes changed the door opening, making it wider and thus granting a lot more foot clearance. The seats are higher to improve visibility, while the backrest is nine-way adjustable, including a 90-degree position for optimizing the cargo area. The G also has a 3-zone climate control with vents shaped like the truck's headlights, as well as a 590-watt Burmester sound system with 16 speakers.
The doors are almost twice as thick as before, mainly due to passive safety requirements and more sound deadening material. However, they still close with the all the weight and precision of a bank vault, while the locking mechanism makes that familiar rifle-bolt noise. Mercedes is aware of its priorities. What looks like metal is also solid aluminum in most cases.
Gone are the levers. The shifter has moved to the column as in nearly all other Mercedes products, while the modified E-Class electric brain replaced the traditional handbrake with a button as well. On the side, this has freed up enough room for an illuminated central console that can swallow 6.4 liters of your stuff. The door bins also hold 1-liter bottles, while the new glovebox is a top-loader with a capacity of 5.2 liters. Plus, you know, the cupholders!
Having two 12.3-inch displays that can blend into a single wide-screen cockpit beneath a shared glass cover is an option for higher-trim models. The windshield is slightly curved for the first time, but the side glass remains flat as ever. The passenger grab handle will stay right where it's always been too, just like the chrome-highlighted switches for the G's three differential locks.
There'll also be a new badge on the B-Pillar declaring that each G-Wagen is "Schökl proven," a reference to the Austrian mountain. Take that, Jeep, and your "Trail Rated" badge.
Mercedes believes the new interior is "strong, straight, robust and pure," despite the fact that the four-way adjustable steering wheel is straight out of an S-Class, with touch panels and driver-assistance controls moved from a stalk to the spokes.
Modern gadgets include inductive charging and self parking, but nothing should get you more excited than the appearance of the cupholders. Really. That's the big news here, not the 64-color ambient lighting, the designo colors, or the fact that the AMG-line gets a flat-bottom steering wheel.
In case you're wondering whether Mercedes managed to improve the G's drag coefficient as well, know that the figure is, according to the automaker, "not worse than until now, despite the new car being wider."
So, the 2019 G-Wagen: it's still a brick alright. Just a more comfortable one.