What's new: The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 is heavily revised for 2013. In addition to new LED lights outside, the interior is completely overhauled, adding a COMAND controller, a new steering wheel and a new center stack.

Pros: Incredible off-road prowess -- possibly the best; boxy styling never seems to get old; finally, a more modern interior graces the G-Class

Cons: Even if you don't get the AMG, the G-Class is pricey; also expensive to run thanks to heft and thirsty engine; even updated interior still looks and feels very old


The Mercedes-Benz G550 is the entry-level version of Mercedes' ultra-luxury G-Class SUV. Born as a German military vehicle in the 1970s, the G-Class (or "G-wagen" for its original name, "Gelandewagen," meaning "off-road vehicle") is now a high-end boulevard cruiser that rarely sees rough roads. But it's supremely capable, thanks to three differential locks and impressive ground clearance.

The original G-Class debuted as the G500 for the 2002 model year. An engine update in 2009 earned it the G550 moniker. Power comes from a 382-horsepower 5.5-liter V8, which is mated to a 7-speed automatic. Zero-to-60 comes in around seven seconds. All G-Class models have full-time 4-wheel drive.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550 starts around $113,000, which makes it one of the most expensive SUVs available. The only SUV with a higher base price is its own high-performance version, the G63 AMG. That model, which is new for the 2013 model year, features a 544-horsepower twin-turbo V8 and reaches 60 mph in around 5.5 seconds.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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