Engine5.5L Twin-Turbo V8
Power563 HP / 561 LB-FT
0-60 Time5.3 Seconds
Top Speed130 MPH
Curb Weight5,833 LBS
Cargo45.2 / 75.9 CU-FT Seats Up/Down
MPG12 City / 15 Highway
As Tested Price$163,795
Our tester is an AMG G63, the most popular variant in the United States. According to Mercedes, this is the only vehicle in its lineup where the AMG variant outsells the standard model. It's powered by a 563 horsepower 5.5-liter V8 and packs a four-wheel drive system with three locking differentials. Like the Range Rover, it has a ton of potential that no owner will every use. This example has a single option: the $20,000 AMG Performance Studio Package. It includes the Solarbeam yellow paint, carbon fiber trim, black accents on the exterior, yellow stitching inside and red brake calipers.
Associate Editor Reese Counts: The outgoing G-Wagen is an objectively terrible vehicle. It's stiff, cramped and handles like a sloppy drunk on stilts. Every input, save for the brakes, is delayed slightly. It's not packaged very well, and the only notable thing about the cargo area is the relatively low liftover. Factor in the G63's price, and things look exponentially worse. Why would you ever spend $163,795 on an SUV that is, in all actuality, terrible? Because it's so damn cool.
If you're judging the G-Wagen on value-per-dollar, you're missing the entire point. This is a status symbol. It's an icon. It's pure, uncut opulence packed inside a rolling steel box. People who own a G-Wagen do not care at all how much it costs or how much value they're getting for their money. You might as well see "IDGAF" as their personalized license plates. Comfort, practicality, fuel economy and any other objective measurements do not matter one iota to these shoppers. Why buy a Rolex Submariner when a Timex works just fine? Because "just fine" doesn't matter.
The G63 oozes cool. I love this thing more than words can fully express. I love the boxy styling and the chrome brush guard and the obnoxiously yellow paint. I love the twin-turbo V8 and the bark and snarl that come from the side-exit exhaust. I love the heft and weight to every single movement, especially the doors. The whole thing feels like it was milled from one solid piece of steel. The click of the door locks sounds like a bolt-action rifle. I love the fact that I get constant stares, both in awe and admonishment.
I would own this G63 in a heartbeat, yellow paint, fuel-guzzling V8, cramped interior and all. It's completely and totally flawed, but I don't care. It's all about the charm and the feeling you get from behind the wheel. It's also about not caring what people do or think. In the end, it doesn't matter.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: At first, I couldn't get comfortable in the G-Wagen. No matter how I adjusted the seat, I was too close to the pedals. Especially after a day spent sitting at my desk, I was squirming to keep my right leg from cramping while driving. For such a big vehicle, there really isn't a lot of room for adjustment for the driver's seat. Strike one.
It's really tough to drive. You really have to wrestle with the steering wheel, dragging it back to on-center after a turn. I like the available power, but it is not really responsive to inputs. At one point, I put my foot to the floor and waited what must have been at least three whole seconds before the thing could downshift. Strike two.
I could practically watch the fuel needle dip as I drove, even when consciously trying to save gas. This thing just gobbles premium. Topping up on a half tank was just shy of $50. Strike three. This car is not for me.
Video Manager Eddie Sabatini: I don't like the Mercedes-AMG G63, but I also F*$@ING LOVE IT. First of all, any time I drive a vehicle that cost more than my house, I tend to feel like a poser — especially when said vehicle is painted up like bumblebee. The Solarbeam yellow and polished chrome brush guard are way too loud for my taste. I found the work-home-work commute to be a bit uncomfortable. This beast doesn't drive all that well, it tends to lumber, and I felt like I needed to force it down the road like a dog that won't walk on leash. The seating and steering wheel positions are odd, and I was unable to find a pairing that worked perfectly for me. Sure the big V8 sounds great, but it's paired with a transmission that isn't.
But once home, I just sat in the garage and starred at it. The lines on this truck are incredible. As vehicles turn into curves and circles, the wonderfully-boxy G-Class holds fast, and if I had the means I wouldn't hesitate to pick one up. I know, I'm sending a lot of mixed messages, but the G-Class isn't a vehicle that can be analyzed with reason. It's emotion that shapes my opinion. It makes me feel good. Good looking at it, good driving it — uncomfortable seating position, less-than-perfect driving dynamics, and all. And while I think Joel's Hemi-swap into a Jeep Wrangler is a compelling idea that would create an arguably better, more comfortable, and more useful vehicle, there's nothing like the G-Wagen. And for me, its beauty and uniqueness FAR outweigh its flaws.
Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: I thought I was going to be in the minority here: I really don't like the outgoing G-Wagen. I don't understand how this could have become popular enough to survive so long and become so expensive. It's objectively terrible to drive. It's a car that I actually believed I could roll over while taking a corner, and at slow speeds no less. The steering is stunningly slow and vague, though that may be for the best, considering the handling. And seriously, the handling is so bad, it makes a Wrangler feel like a Miata. The ride is stiff and kicks you over bumps. The driving position and really every passenger space is cramped. Other than the wonderfully powerful and growly V8, there is nothing that makes this thing enjoyable.
This SUV frustrates in principal, too. It exemplifies the idea of buying something simply to say you have it. It's a vehicle that has a twin-turbo V8, but can't take advantage of it. It's a vehicle that has solid axles and THREE differential locks, and they will NEVER be used because the car is too expensive and flashy to take off-road, and they aren't meant to be used on dry pavement.
There's also the fact that you can get everything the Mercedes offers in better vehicles. A Jeep Wrangler Rubicon will probably go everywhere this G63 could, and it's cheap enough (relatively) that you won't fear taking it off-road. Plus it handles better, rides better, has a more comfortable interior, and you can take the roof and doors off. If you want a fast SUV, you can get a different AMG SUV, or a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, or a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, or one of many others. Or if you just want a truck-like luxury SUV, there's an Escalade or Navigator. And if you want off-roadability and power, may I suggest a Hemi-converted Wrangler from AEV?
I simply can't fathom the outgoing G-Wagen.