Inside, the Unimog is probably like nothing you've ever driven. The command seating position of the cab-forward setup allows the driver to precisely control where to place his tires or any of the truck's multiple attachments (there are quite a few companies that make lifts, blowers, cutters, beds, cranes, and more). The steering-column-mounted dash houses all important electronic gauges, while the center console is the command center for all of the hydraulic switches, one of which is a multifunctional joystick that can control the tilt-bed option or several other attachments. The switches and information are easily identifiable, with the transmission lever and paddle shifter falling most comfortably under the right hand, and gearing, lighting, and accessory toggles filling out a separate keypad. (And the entire steering column and pedals can be slid from one side of the cab to other for right- or left-hand-drive configurations.)
In addition, our test unit had some personalizing interior mods to set it apart from its workhorse family members (wood and carbon-fiber trim, DVD player, mood lighting). If so inclined, Unimog will set a buyer up with a stereo and interior upgrade outfitter, giving the ceiling, dash, and doors accents to make the rig feel more livable.
Driving the Unimog, especially the long-wheelbase version, isn't as intimidating as one might think. In the context of a medium-duty truck, it's quite manageable. With the wheels directly underneath you, it offers impressive maneuverability, with little problematic body roll. Running up and down the gears with the electronic clutch takes some getting used to but would seem most useful when hauling or towing near-max load weights. It wouldn't surprise us to see some of this work-oriented technology in a version of a medium-duty Ram. Likewise, we're hugely impressed with how powerful the M-B 6.4-liter I-6 is, an engine that could provide a great way for Dodge to offer another option to the smaller Cummins 5.9-liter diesel.
The downside to all this is at $137,000 (our specific test unit) and with so few sales per year, it's not likely you'll see too many of these highly nimble work trucks cruising down the highway, and that's a shame. Regardless, it would be nice to see something smaller from Unimog for our Ultimate 4x4 Challenge next year. We can only hope.