Mercedes-Benz likes to claim that the G-Class is in an elite class, and that it is even a true automotive icon. While its hard to not look past some of its cruder elements, its also really hard to argue otherwise considering the elite pedigree that this long lasting nameplate has gained over the years, But even an icon needs to evolve from time to time to keep its status on the totem pole, and Mercedes-Benz is keen on doing just that for the 2019 model year.
Exterior updates may seem very minimal at first glance, but a closer look reveals smoother surfaces, reshaped front headlights, slimmer signal lights, new wheels, and lightly tweaked taillights. Thankfully the basic boxy look is kept intact, and that should please the legions of eager loyalists that have turned what was once a pet project for the Austrian military, into a cult hit that has withstood the test of time for several decades now. When you look at the cold hard numbers, the G-Class scores minimal gains throughout with length increasing by 2.1 inches, width measuring in 4.8 inches wider, and a small 0.3 inch gain in height.
These gains make themselves apparent in the interior, where the 2019 G-Class boasts more room for passengers especially in the rear. This is certainly an improvement over the old G-Class which had tight accommodations back there especially for a vehicle of its size. The long wheelbase as well as a slight tweak to the location of the rear seats helps create 6 extra inches of interior room which should please taller passengers looking to stretch out on long trips.
Interior quality has also seen a massive leap, with softer plastics, more leather appointments, and healthy splashes of chrome trim scattered throughout. There are still elements of past G-Class iterations present with a notable one being the dash mounted grab handle on the passenger side of the cabin, as well as the relative lack of front mounted cup holders.
While the cushier interior and the removal of the front solid axle may make it seem that the 2019 G-Class has gone soft at first glance, but a closer look reveals that the core elements of the G-Class are still present and accounted for. Those include the novel three locking differentials, a low range gear, as well as potent approach and breakover angles. lastly the independent front suspension may signal the end of an era for the once all solid axle G-Class, but look for on-road behavior to drastically improve as well as increased civility over rougher terrain.
When the 2019 G-Class initially arrives in dealerships, it will be offered only as a G550 model with the same 4.0 liter biturbo V8 as its outgoing predecessor which in and of itself is not that bad of a situation. This V8 is a favorite among buyers, and the old adage holds itself true “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”It’s 416 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque are nothing to balk at either, with the engine benefiting from an all new nine speed automatic transmission. Buyers will also be pleased to hear that Mercedes engineers finally pitched the ancient recirculating ball steering setup for an electrically assisted rack and pinion steering gear. While it will most likely not be the blinding bolt of revelation that many expected in terms of involvement, it should be a noticeable improvement over the old G-Class.
Pricing for the 2019 G-Class will be revealed closer to its official market launch in late 2018. After the G550 has a chance to formally plant itself in the marketplace, other variants will follow suit including AMG versions in 2019. It is currently unknown if Mercedes will produce another V12 AMG G-Class, but if not, look for one of the V8 models to pick up the slack while returning slightly better fuel economy.