Seat Time: 2015 Mercedes-Benz G550

April 13th, 2015 at 9:00am

2013 Mercedes-Benz G550.

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Daimler-Benz
Make: Mercedes-Benz
Model: G550
Type: Sport Utility Vehicle
Competitors: Lexus LX, Land Rover Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator
Price: $115,400 (Suggested Retail Price); $116,525 (As Tested w/ Optional Packages)
Made in: Graz, Austria (by hand)
Drivetrain: 5.5 Liter V-8 (382 Horsepower, 391 lb-ft Torque)
EPA Ratings: 12city, 15highway, 13combined

Final Impression:
2013 Mercedes-Benz G550.I’ve loved the look of the G-Wagon since I first spied one in 1986 parked in the Hollywood Hills. Now, since Mercedes didn’t start selling the SUV in America until 2002 (as an ’03 model), you might be wondering what a G was doing in LA some 16 years early. Well, since it was Steven Spielberg’s personal vehicle, and he had just finished raking in all that cash from the first two installments of the Indiana Jones series, importing one straight from the factory in Graz, Austria didn’t seem to be a problem.

And as far as I’m concerned, whether it was Hollywood 1986 or Detroit 2015, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a work of art. Its striking boxy structure continues to stand out on the road differentiating itself from every other SUV out there. From the grill to the trim to the rear door mounted spare, it’s as beautiful as a Sinatra standard.

2013 Mercedes-Benz G550

But as any aging super model will attest, beauty only gets you so far. And that’s kind of the way I now feel about the G550 after recently having my first opportunity to drive it; sometimes, as they say, it’s better to love from afar.

After driving it, my top concern about the G-Wagon was its ride, which was just like a truck. Now I know that’s standard cliché that many of us apply to a lot of vehicles, but this really did ride like a truck…a rather large commercial truck to boot.

Impression number two came from the handling where I discovered that Mr. Universe himself would’ve had trouble turning the G. Now of course I’m engaging in a bit of hyperbole because my $116,000 G550 did come equipped with power steering, but that only seemed to offer minimal assistance. It truly took two hands making a right or left turn.

Mercedes-Benz G550

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMGFinally, rounding out my trio of disappointments, the weight of the G was amazing. The doors, which were so heavy they seemed to have been borrowed from an aircraft carrier, gave you a good workout just to open & close them.

Now to be honest there were a lot of great things about the SUV. It came equipped with any number of comfort/convenience features as well as safety and security options that we’re used to seeing from Mercedes. Plus it had the 4Matic All Wheel Drive system along with a 7 speed automatic and a 5.5 Liter V-8 (though filling it up can be a wallet-draining adventure since it only offered 13 mpgs combined).

But having driven the vehicle for 7 days – both around town and on the highway — whatever longtime lust I maintained for the lovely G-Wagon seemed to evaporate. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still a beauty, they can never take that away from the vehicle; But as far as parking one in my driveway for more than a week, I’ll have to survive on those youthful memories when I first fell in love with it in the Hollywood Hills.

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