2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Assured to Be Off-road Ready

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

There’s been a lot of buzz around the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, details of which “leaked” earlier this week. However, as the vast majority of those tidbits came straight from the manufacturer, Benz is really just whetting appetites for its updated SUV ahead of its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show in two weeks.

The good news is that Mercedes doesn’t seem to have muddled the G-Class’ iconic design; the bad news is that the company feels compelled to address concerns that the SUV won’t be a genuine off-road vehicle. Considering that I’ve never seen anyone but automotive journalists take the ultra-lux behemoth through the dirt, this didn’t seem like a problem that needed to be confronted.

Still, Benz does intend for the G-Class to journey across treacherous terrain, and there’s evidence to back up its claims.

Photographic proof comes via images of the model tackling Austria’s Schõckl Mountain test track — a course Mercedes says was instrumental in the G-Class’ development. Meanwhile, technical details confirm the new G SUV will persist with a ladder-type frame, making use of a trio of 100-percent differential locks and a low range ratio intended for rock crawling.

While the G-Class keeps a solid rear axle, it has been upgraded a fully independent suspension with double wishbones in the front. In order to maximize ground clearance, engineers say they directly fixed the wishbones to the frame — without a suspension subframe. While that’s fine for off-roading, it does call into question the issue of ride quality, something Mercedes hints will be improved on the updated G-Class. Out back, the new rigid axle is gets four longitudinal control arms on each side and a Panhard rod.

Persisting with the dirt-driving mentality, the 2019 model comes equipped with “G-Mode,” which engages anytime one of the three differential locks is engaged or low range is utilized. The system adapts the adjustable damping, steering, throttle response, transmission, and more to better cope with off-roading. We’re expecting something akin to Land Rover’s Terrain Response system.

Additional hardware updates include a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic specifically adapted to meet the needs of off-road use. Mercedes says the wide gearing should makes driving quieter and more comfortable at low engine speeds while also improving fuel consumption. The transmission itself isn’t new, however, it is mounted to a new transfer case that sends 40 percent of the torque to the front axle and 60 percent to the rear in normal driving conditions. Low range is available up to 25 mph.

The G-Class will also be available with a 360-degree off-roading camera system and digital readouts that indicate ride height, gradient, angle, a compass, and other data. While the readouts will no doubt come in handy, having a bird’s eye view of the surrounding terrain would free up any passengers from having to engage in spotting duty on all but the most extreme of trails.

More details on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class will be forthcoming once the manufacturer formally unveils it at the North American International Auto Show next week.

[Images: Daimler AG]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Sub-600 Sub-600 on Jan 05, 2018

    I thought it was a Scion xB mule.

  • Sigivald Sigivald on Jan 05, 2018

    "however, it is mounted to a new transfer case that sends 40 percent of the torque to the front axle and 60 percent to the rear in normal driving conditions. Low range is available up to 25 mph." How does a transfer case work with a lockable center diff, since it also claims to have that? (Or is this loose terminology and it's some sort of Smart Center Diff, perhaps resembling a lockable version of a current-gen Haldex system?)

  • Kosmo Love it. Can I get one with something other than Subaru's flat four?
  • M B When the NorthStar happened, it was a part of GM's "rebuilding" of the Cadillac brand. Money to finance it was shuffled from Oldsmobile, which resulted in Olds having to only facelift its products, which BEGAN its slide down the mountain. Olds stagnated in product and appearances.First time I looked at the GM Parts illustration of a NorthStar V-8, I was impressed AND immediately saw the many things that were expensive, costly to produce, and could have been done less expensively. I saw it as an expensive disaster getting ready to happen. Way too much over-kill for the typical Cadillac owner of the time.Even so, there were a few areas where cost-cutting seemed to exist. The production gasket/seal between the main bearing plate and the block was not substantial enough to prevent seeps. At the time, about $1500.00 to fix.In many ways, the NS engine was designed to make far more power than it did. I ran across an article on a man who was building kits to put the NS in Chevy S-10 pickups. With his home-built 4bbl intake and a 600cfm Holley 4bbl, suddenly . . . 400 horsepower resulted. Seems the low hood line resulted in manifolding compromises which decreased the production power levels.GM was seeking to out-do its foreign competitors with the NS design and execution. In many ways they did, just that FEW people noticed.
  • Redapple2 Do Hybrids and be done with it.
  • Redapple2 Panamera = road porn.
  • Akear What an absurd strategy. They are basically giving up after all these years. When a company drinks the EV hemlock failure is just around the corner.