2024 Mercedes-Benz G550 Is Absolutey Ridiculous – And Charmingly Glorious For It

The Mercedes-Benz G550 is absolutely ridiculous!  Originally introduced forty-five years ago as the military-ready Geländewagen, it looks like a Jeep, pampers like an S-Class and costs more than a Maybach.  It has steel cargo plates on its roof, for goodness sakes!  G-Wagens found favor with celebrities like Cindy Crawford and Tina Turner.  One even carried The Pope.  But, what does my family think of it?

We’re on our way from Indianapolis to Clifty Falls State Park, near the Ohio River to find out.

The G550 looks like the shipping container an EQE electric crossover rides in, but gleams with round LED headlamps, 18-inch matte black wheels, black logos, and rear-mounted spare tire.  My eyes flutter in disbelief as we sling our weekend luggage and imbibes onto the cargo compartment’s cherry wood floors.  We clink shut the vault and go around front.

The flat doors click open to opulence glorified by Nappa leather, twin screens, ash wood, and the reek of wealth.  My daughter conjures “The 10 Spot” on satellite radio, powers open the sunroof and rocks out to the deep Bermester audio system.  It’s pretty sweet.  There’s no wireless Apple CarPlay, and I only find old-school USB-B ports, so connecting my new iPhone proves tricky.  Daughter doesn’t care as she discovers our heated and ventilated seats with massagers.  I have a heated steering wheel too. This is going to be a good ride.

Navigation routes us out of our neighborhood, across city streets, and onto I65 South.  It’s been 22 years since I last drove a G-Wagen.  It looks the same, but is slightly wider for side impact performance.  It also gained an independent front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and an air suspension.  Three locking differentials remain should we confront a goat.  Automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and blind spot warning systems protect our flanks.

It’s surprisingly sublime on the Interstate, but we soon route through tight two-lanes to the state park.  This is not a conveyance you toss into a corner casually.  This witch will twitch if you go in hot, but driven with respect, it won’t embarrass its patron.  It simply pulverizes rough pavement while occupants hover on an electronically controlled cushion of air.

I cackle when I step into the 416 horsepower 4.0-litre Biturbo V8 engine, sending its fortitude to the four-wheel-drive system through a 9-speed automatic transmission.  It makes quick work of short straights, tossing carnal luxuries from curve to curve with indecent vigor.  There’s always a yearning rumble beneath your feet, but brace yourself for 13/16-MPG city/highway.

Having finally arrived, the G550 looks natural lurking through forest and resting outside the inn.  It’s exactly the kind of ride you should take to a rustic inn as it gets you there in comfort and welcomes adventure.  You sense the inherent tight maneuvering and excellent visibility for off-roading translate to tight garages too.

It’s all a bit weird.  Closing the door sounds like a 1970 S-Class.  Clink!  The engine channels AMG.  Roar!  Its tippy in corners, but the chassis delights.  Wafty!  It’s all so endearing.  I look at my daughter as we drive to a nearby café.  She’s rocking out with wind in her hair, looking like a YouTube influencer.  She grins at me, “Slay!”  I think that means the G550 has her approval.

It should.  The G550 starts at $143,000, but two packages that include massage seats, leather-wrapped dash, black logos and…Cherry wood floor add nearly $38,000!  All in, this specimen snatches $188,650 – more than a Maybach GLS three-row SUV.  But unlike vehicles they may lease and toss, I suspect owners will keep and cherish their G550s.

Storm Forward!

 Send comments to Casey at [email protected]; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.