That said, we still found plenty of characteristic Mercedes-Benz precision and control when we pushed it through the Austrian Alps. All G-Class units will continue to offer center, rear, and front independently locking differentials (and they must be engaged in that order when used), keeping the G-Class the closest thing to a steel-sided mountain goat on sale in the States.

Over the last 25 years, M-B has sold over 175,000 G-Wagens worldwide, averaging close to 7000 units per year. Most of them go to various international militaries, and every one is handbuilt at the same Graz, Austria, assembly plant.

This is the last year the G-Class will be built in its current form--hence this extra-special AMG G55 model. The next iteration G-Class should surface in a year or two, aimed at high-end Range Rover, Lexus, and Cadillac SUV buyers. But it'll surely lose some of its "function-over-form" personality. You can expect the 25th-Anniversary Edition G55 to cost around $100,000. You'll have to hurry if you want one: Of the 1900 G-Class models to be sold in the U.S. this year, only 300 or so will be offered in AMG configuration. A fine gift, after 25 years of hard work.

2005 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
Price$100,000 (MT est)
Vehicle layouFront engine, 4WD, 4-door, 5-pass SUV
Engine5.5L/469-hp supercharged V-8, SOHC, 3 valves/cyl
0-60 mph, sec5.5 (mfr est)
On sale in U.S.Fall 2004