The evolution of the current generation of the most rugged Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle continues with the release of a Grand Edition model. An all-new version of the Mercedes SUV will also be introduced as a 2007 model and will be built not in Austria but in Alabama, alongside ML-Class models.
The G-Class is the Mercedes version of the Hummer, a vehicle developed for military use but adapted for civilians. It is a very rugged SUV that has been in production for more than 25 years; in 2007 it will be replaced by an all-new and much more civilized full-size SUV that will be built alongside the ML-Class in the DaimlerChrysler assembly plant in Alabama.
In the meantime, the venerable G-Class ends its production run with a Grand Edition limited edition of the G500 and G55 AMG models. This limited edition model features special paint colors, a choice of two interior leather colors on the G500 (which receives special burl walnut trim) and a choice of three leather colors on the G55 AMG, which has natural maple wood trim. Each Grand Edition has a special number plaque on the center console, velour floor mats with a special logo, and a production sign-off sheet, as well as special badges on the front fenders.
Standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, full-time four-wheel drive, and three differential locks to provide optimum traction regardless of conditions. The G-Class also comes with a full array of Mercedes luxury and safety features, including 10-way power seats, a premium sound system, rear park assist, and a GPS navigation system.
The G500 is powered by a 292-hp, 5.0L V-8 engine, while the G55 AMG gets a supercharged V-8 that is hand-built by Mercedes' in house tuner shop. The AMG version of the engine displaces 5.5 liters and pumps out 469 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque, which can motivate this tough truck leap to 60 miles in a sports car-like 5.5 seconds. To help harness all that power, the AMG version also gets special cross-drilled front brakes and rides on 18-inch wheels.
The new Mercedes-Benz GL-Class competes in the Large Premium Utility category, where luxury appointments, three rows of seating, entertainment systems, towing ability, and off-road ability are more than desirable attributes; they are the price of entry.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Cadillac Escalade led this segment with 29,878 units sold in calendar year 2005. Others in the category include the Lincoln Navigator (25,844), Hummer H2 (16,054), Infiniti QX (14,711), Land Rover Range Rover (13,430), Land Rover Range Rover Sport (10,441), Lexus LX (8,555), and Toyota Land Cruiser (4,870).