Unlike Land Rover, which seems intent on throwing away everything that makes the Defender great, Mercedes keeps its most rugged and ready utility vehicle ... well, rugged and ready. The new G-Class maintains the same square lines and powerful body that have defined it since 1979. While the G-Class looks mostly the same on the outside, a few subtle changes include the addition of daytime running lamps and new exterior mirrors. The high-performance G63 AMG and G65 AMG get AMG radiator grilles and new bumpers with enlarged air intakes. AMG models can also be equipped with red brake calipers and 20-inch wheels for the first time.
Mercedes focuses more attention on the interior - the part of the G-Class that separates it from other utility off-roaders - in updating it with a redesigned center console, an instrument cluster with a center TFT color display sandwiched by round dials, and a standard COMAND infotainment system with some off-road-specific navigation features.
The new G-Class comes in several configurations. The base G350 BlueTec uses a 3.0-liter diesel V-6 worth 211 horsepower mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The BlueTec nature of the engine helps to cut emissions, while the diesel nature gives drivers access to up to 398 lb-ft (540 Nm) of torque. A 388-hp 5.5-liter V-8 petrol engine is the heart and soul of the G500 and G500 Cabriolet. That engine option uses the same seven-speed transmission as the diesel. The US-spec G550 also uses a 5.5-liter V-8.
Two G-Class variants benefit from the tuning prowess of AMG. The all-new G63 becomes the first G-Class to use the 5.5-liter V-8 biturbo engine. That engine spits out 544 hp and 560 lb-ft (760 Nm) of torque. The G63 also has an ECO start/stop system standard. If that's not enough for you, the G65 gives you a 612 hp 6.0-liter V-12 biturbo to work with.
New equipment includes Blind Spot Assist and PARKTRONIC parking aid system with reverse camera. The ESP system has been updated and now includes Trailer Stability Assist and a HOLD function.
The 2013 G350 BlueTec, G500 models, G63 and G65 will hit the German market in June. Pricing starts at €85,311. The 2013 G550 and G63 will roll into US showrooms in August.