Whether you think of it as Germany's Hummer, Range Rover, or simply another choice for well-heeled customers looking for something completely different, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has cast an unmistakable, square-edged shadow for more than three decades. Over the years, exterior changes have been minimal at most, with the current model looking very much like the first, military-inspired Gelandewagen, which started production back in 1979. But despite its similar look, Mercedes has made plenty of changes to the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class.
Although its boxy shape may scream "dated" to some, each successive generation of the G-Class has come packed with the latest technological innovations and new powertrains from Mercedes' passenger car lineup. The many new or updated features for the 2013 G-Wagen include Benz's familiar COMAND multimedia interface with navigation and in-car Internet access, Blind Spot Assist, Parktronic park assist, and Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control. The gauge cluster also gets refreshed primary gauges and a configurable color display in the middle of the instrument panel. The cabin has been updated for a more luxurious feel, and customers can further customize it with the Mercedes Designo range of interior options.
The naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V-8 carries over as the standard engine with 388 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque, although it's been tuned slightly to produce 6 more horsepower than before. As in the past, there's an AMG model, the G63, which is new to the range. It gets the automaker's all-new twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 producing 544 hp and 560 lb-ft in the G-Wagen application. Both engines are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. In a small concession to environmental responsibility, the 2013 G-Class features auto stop-start on the AMG model.
Europeans get three other G variants: the G350 Bluetec, powered by a version of Benz's 3.0-liter diesel with 211 horsepower; the G 500 Cabriolet, powered by the base V-8; and the brawny lad of the bunch, the G65 AMG, which comes with a version of the automaker's 6.0-liter, twin-turbo V-12 found in the SL65 AMG. It produces 612 horsepower, making the G65 the most powerful series production SUV in the world, according to Benz.
As has always been the case on the G-Class, low-range four-wheel-drive is standard, and locking switches for all three -- yes, three -- differentials are prominently located in the center of the dashboard. As an added reminder you're not riding in an S-Class, the traditional passenger-side dash-mounted grab handle is retained. Unlike its more car-like crossover siblings, the G retains its console-mounted shifter for 2013. The G-Class is now safer as well, as Benz has revised the stability control and added a trailer stability system and a hill hold feature.
The few exterior changes for 2013 are LED daytime running lamps, new exterior mirrors, and 20-inch wheels and red brake calipers on the AMG model, which also gets an updated grille with double louvers, along with new bumpers and larger air intakes.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but considering the 2012 G550 starts at a stiff $107,975, you can expect the 2013 model to easily match or surpass that sum. The 2013 G-Class will hit U.S. dealerships in August.