Mercedes-Benz Unveils Next Generation G-Class at North American International Auto Show

This is the G-Wagen's biggest revision in years—and it's going electric.

Will Sabel Courtney / The Drive

People have been talking, and as the next generation G-Class unveiled in Detroit reveals, Mercedes-Benz has been listening. The German marque has advanced its longtime range staple with improved off-roading capabilities, on-road refinement, and a heaping dose of comfort that differentiates the desert-rig-turned-Hollywood-regular from generations past.

During the brand’s announcement at the North American International Auto Show, Mercedes chairman of the board Dieter Zetsche traced back the G-Wagen’s lineage to the early 1980s. Many will agree that, at least aesthetically, the much-loved SUV has stayed true to the original formula—the same can be said of the forthcoming model, but now it features a clear influence from other 21st century Benz models.

Will Sabel Courtney / The Drive

The design, while similar to those of years past, is the most obvious change for the next generation G-Wagen. Boxiness is still aplenty, but instead of sharp edges and blatantly utilitarian lines, Benz has clearly catered to its largest demographic—luxury buyers. LED lighting, contoured details, and more interior space make that statement all the more evident.

In fact, the new G-Class has been lengthened by 2.1 inches and widened by 4.8 inches. This, combined with a longer wheelbase, provides passengers with an added 5.9-inches of legroom in the rear. By making these changes, Mercedes has responded and resolved complaints of former iterations of the beloved G. 

Will Sabel Courtney / The Drive

Refinement was also a major focus for the crew at Stuttgart. A cumulative effort that carries from the SUV’s exterior to its cabin relays an upscale feel that matches the G-Class’s expected price point. Shapes from the outside have made their way in including the rounded headlights matching a decidedly circular theme throughout the greenhouse. Additionally, a switch to digital components further pushes the brute into Tomorrowland with dual 12.3-inch screens up front that blend together beneath a fully bonded glass panel.

As Dr. Z recollected at the beginning of the reveal, Mercedes hasn’t forgotten where the G-Class comes from. In result, the truck’s 4x4 aptitude has been improved with selectable driving modes available as well as three constants in the G-Range: A ladder-type frame, low-range gear, and three 100% differential locks. It now also has an improved maximum fording depth of 27.6-inches, a near 4.0-inch increase.

Will Sabel Courtney / The Drive

Power for the G550 is supplied by MB’s 4.0-liter bi-turbo V-8, making 416 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds of torque. That twist is then sent to the automaker’s new nine-speed gearbox which offers optimized gear ratios for both off-road wheeling and highway cruising. Mercedes also announced that future versions of the G-Wagen will eventually be electrified (along with every other model that the manufacturer offers), though no date was specified.

Collectively, the new G-Class is well-rounded in nearly every regard, providing customers and critics alike with a product that ticks most every box.