For its part, Mercedes sets out to bolster the vehicle’s unlikely allure this fall with a modest model-year 2016 refresh that includes a new lineup of engines with added power (always welcome in a vehicle of this size) and improved fuel economy (probably still abysmal) as highlights.
New to the U.S. lineup for 2016 is a high-performance AMG G 65 version that packs a hearty V12 engine with 630 horsepower and 730 pound feet of launch-happy torque that promises a 0-60 mph sprint in 5.3 seconds. That’s downright quick, especially for a full-blown body-on-frame truck like this.
Otherwise, the base G 500 version features a new 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 engine – a retuned version of what’s otherwise found in the automaker’s AMG GT sports car – that generates 422 horsepower, with the V8 in the sporty (and we use this term loosely) G 33 putting 571 horsepower to the pavement. The vehicle’s diesel engine, available elsewhere in the world, won’t be coming to the U.S., however.
Fuel economy benefits a tad by a new start-stop system that automatically shuts down either of these powerplants when at idle when a vehicle gets zero mpg. Becoming more widespread in recent years, we tend to find start-stop to be a bit intrusive in higher-powered models like this, where a large engine restarts with a mighty roar after every stop in traffic; fortunately these systems can easily be disabled via a dashboard-mounted switch.
Exterior styling tweaks include revised front and rear bumpers, added flared wheel arches and new five-spoke alloy wheels. Inside there’s a redesigned instrument cluster. As if the G-Class isn’t already visually distinguished from virtually everything else on the road, a new EDITION 463 upgrade to either of the AMG versions includes a stainless steel under-guard and sport stripes on the outside, with a two-tone instrument panel, two-tone leather seats and carbon-fiber trim inside.
Also, Mercedes has re-engineered the vehicle’s suspension system to deliver a smoother ride with improved driver control, with a new optional adaptive damping system available in the G 500 that lets the driver select between Sport and Comfort modes. All the while the G-class retains its signature advanced off-road capabilities (that we’d be willing to wager few owners will ever explore), thanks to permanent all-wheel drive with a low-range gearbox and three differential locks that can be engaged/disengaged while mobile.
While we suspect there are only a slim number of G-Class buyers who will ever take a vehicle that costs as much as a starter home in many areas of the country up the side of a mountain, it’s likely that many of them also have expensive professional-quality Viking or Jenn-Air ranges in their kitchens, but never use them to cook gourmet meals. But if the opportunity ever presents itself in either case, they’re secure in the knowledge that at least their hardware will be up to the task.
Originally posted: 2016 Mercedes G-Class Packs A V12 Punch