The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a four-door, five-passenger luxury sport-utility vehicle. Sometimes, a vehicle that might seem like a throwback or an anachronism turns out to be one of the strongest connections that an automaker has with their buyers. A perfect example is the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The G-Class was originally designed 40 years ago as a military vehicle, but civilians pestered the company until it was also made available commercially. Largely unchanged aside from a re-design in 1990, Mercedes had planned to replace the G-Class with the GL-Class but relented when a wave of protest was registered from SUV-lovers around the world.

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class bears styling which is about as utilitarian as can be found outside of a Hummer H1. With a slightly softened exterior appearance compared to years past, the G-Class or G-Wagon as it is commonly known is a big, square four-door sport-utility vehicle that looks like it should be exploring desert kingdoms or conquering the rain forest instead of making its way down a modern highway.

There are only two versions of the G-Class remaining in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. The G500 is powered by a 5.0 liter V8 engine that produces 292 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. For those who crave a brick that can break the sound barrier, a supercharged 5.5 liter V8 is available in the G55 AMG, where it makes a hefty 493 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. This is more than enough to propel the huge G55 to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds. Both versions of the G-Class use a 7-speed automatic transmission to handle shifting.

Of course, while it is indeed fast in AMG trim, the G-Class is known not for its speed but for its impressive off-road utility. The SUV boasts 3 completely locking differentials, which puts it in a class almost by itself in terms of modern production vehicles. The 4-wheel drive system employs the Mercedes 4MATIC 4-ETS program, which can electronically distribute torque to each individual wheel if that is what it takes to keep forward momentum. Combined with an electronic stability program, these features make the G-Class a very capable vehicle when it comes to charting unknown territory.

The G-Class is also an extremely comfortable truck to take up to 4 other passengers on an adventure into the wilderness. Heated leather seats woThe 2009 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is largely a carryover from 2008, with the exception of a front-end refresh, a new engine in the base model and a power tweak for the AMG edition. A new 7-speed transmission also makes an appearance across the entire model range. The entry-level G550 is outfitted with a new for 2009 5.5 liter V8 that provides 382 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. The performance-oriented G55 AMG offers an AMG-tuned 5.5 liter V8 that uses a supercharger to push out a more potent 500 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Both models feature all-wheel drive and see fuel economy of 11 miles per gallon in the city and 15 miles per gallon on the highway.rk together with dual-climate controls and beautiful Walnut wood trim to make the cockpit of the G500 a very pleasant place to get stuck in mud. DVD navigation is available, and while it may be of limited use on the trail, the Harman/Kardon sound system and satellite radio should work anywhere a driver decides to take their truck.

The G-Class is an interesting example of a car company listening to the specific demands of its customers. While the vehicle may not represent the fine point of technology that Mercedes-Benz has become known for, it does harken back to an era when the German automaker was widely respected for their excellent designs and uncompromising build quality. As long as Mercedes decides to keep selling the G-Wagon, it will continue to find a limited but vocal market.