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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Overview

Retired Military Finds a New Life Among the Civilian Class

If you've ever seen a G500 sitting in a Mercedes-Benz showroom, you've probably noticed that it sticks out from the rest of the cars like a bull standing in a bed of roses. The G-Class' tall, boxy and very un-aerodynamic body is a blast from Mercedes' past: a vehicle from another time and era. Originally designed to serve as a military vehicle for countries in the Middle East and for the Argentine government, the G-Class soon found its way to the U.S. shores to serve civilian duty as the Mercedes-Benz flagship off-road vehicle.

Here are a few quick facts about the G500 that are important to know. First, the design may be old (over 25 years old in fact) but the thicker-than-average sheet metal and hand built construction have allowed the G500 to sail through every government crash test with flying colors. Secondly, the G500 is hand built in Austria; that means it is not a high-volume production vehicle and therefore fetches a premium at the dealership. Lastly, the G500 is perhaps the best off-road vehicle ever to be offered to non-combat troops—loose translation: you and your family.

What makes the G500 so attractive is difficult to say. Its exterior certainly looks 25 years old, with tall, slab-sided steel and large flat windows. The freshened front end and sporty wheels improve on the look, and even give it a slightly upscale feeling. Inside, the upright design translates to an uncommonly roomy interior, with more than ample head, leg and hip room for passengers and storage space for their cargo. Mercedes has added a 21st century touch to the dash and door panels by covering them in soft leather and real wood; likewise, the angular dash is somewhat softened by the installation of the COMAND system's LCD screen and the rounded speedometer and instrument gauges. You'll find the G500's seats to be very tall and upright and somewhat firm, in traditional Mercedes fashion. The rear seats are split in a 60/40 configuration and can be folded and flipped to provide more cargo room. The rear area is accessed via a swing-out rear door that requires you not to be backed into too tight of a spot in order to open it all the way.

Power for the G500 comes from Mercedes' dynamo of a V8, the 292-horsepower 5.0-liter engine. A strong contender in any field, the 5.0-liter seems to posses unending reserves of low-end torque that make the G500 move as quickly and spryly as an M-Class. Of course, if you really feel the need for speed, Mercedes offers an AMG version of the G-Class known as the G55 that produces nearly 350 horsepower. The G-Class SUV's need this much power because they are literally built like tanks, weighing in at just over 5500lbs. This immense bulk is one of the contributing factors to keeping the G500 planted firmly on the ground, both on and off road.

Of course, what the G500 does better than just about any other vehicle (with the exception of the Range Rover) is tackle the great outdoors. The G500 features an advanced all-wheel drive system that is permanently engaged. Once off road, you can place the two-speed transfer case into low and take off up the steepest grades without fear. Three buttons on the center dash allow you further control by permitting the front, center and rear differentials to be locked, either all at once or in random order. You'll need to have a good understanding of the mechanics involved and of off-roading in general, but you'll find that the G500 can move at angles, both vertically and horizontally, that would leave other SUV's resting upon their roofs. We drove off-road with a professional driver provided by Mercedes and at one point, we were clutching the grab rails for dear life. It seemed certain that on our slow decent the back end of the G500 was simply going to flip forward and start us cart-wheeling end over end; but no such tragedy befell our wide-eyed group and our test driver simply smiled as the G500's hill holding device slowly inched us to the bottom of what seemed like a vertical rock wall. Quite impressive.

If your intentions for the G500 are more pedestrian, then you'll probably be interested to learn about some of the more luxurious features, such as the standard heated leather seats, impressive 9-speaker audio system, GPS navigation guide, Mercedes telematics, dual-zone automatic climate control and even velour carpeting.

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