The good news – no make that great news – just keeps coming from Mercedes-Benz this week. Now the automaker says it will bring its rugged G550 4×4² to the States in early 2017. This exciting news comes after it announced it will bring its new E-Class wagon stateside next year, too.
The G550 4×4² is probably the closest we’ll get to the spectacular AMG G63 6X6 (which was a limited production vehicle never offered in the U.S.) and we’ll definitely take it. The common denominator between the G63 AMG 6×6 and G500 4×4² is their portal axles, which use gears in the hubs to allow the axle to sit higher than the wheel centers in the name of increased ground clearance. That gives the G550 4×4² a ground clearance of more than 17 inches.
Under the hood, it comes with a 4.0L Biturbo V8. The newly developed twin turbo engine is good for 416-horses and 450 pound-feet of torque.
It’s not easy feat building these off-roaders. The body is made out of .16 inch thick steel. The frame requires over 6,400 individual welds to be fully assembled before it is dip-primed (utilizing electrophoresis) and powder-coated. The frame cavities are then treated with a hot wax for added protection against water, snow, salt and sand.
Mercedes says the G-Class frame is better suited for off-road use than a unibody because you get better fuel tank, exhaust tank and drivetrain protection if you happen to bottom out. Its ladder-type frame also prevents the body from twisting forces which could severely damage a more conventional unibody.
As you might imagine, this thing has some pretty incredible suspension. The G550 4×4² is equipped with dual springs, damper struts and twin stabilizer bars. Mercedes-Benz says they give it an extremely high range of available spring travel for maximum surface contact even on the toughest off-road terrain.
The G550 4×4² will be available in U.S. dealerships beginning in early 2017. It joins the 416 hp G550, the 563 hp AMG G63, and the 621 hp AMG G65 already offered here. (Notably, the AMG G65 features a 6.0-liter V12 Biturbo engine producing 738 pound-feet of torque.)
Mercedes-Benz developed the G-Class in 1972 as a military-turned-passenger vehicle. It’s built in Austria and the name Gelaendewagen translates literally to “off road vehicle.” It became available to the public in 1979. Since then, Mercedes-Benz has delivered more than 250,000 G-Class vehicles to customers around the globe.
No pricing yet, but the 2016 G550 started around $120,000 USD. The 2017 G550 4×4² will likely come in above the $217,900 AMG G65. Which is nothing compared to the $500,000 6X6. Mercedes-Benz only built a handful of them despite demand.