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February 01, 2018

Off-Roading the Most Ridiculous Factory SUV on Four Wheels

Courtesy of Road & Track:

Week With a Car is a recurring look into the garage and multiple outdoor parking spots of Sam Smith, R&T’s globetrotting editor at large. Expect it to hold magazine test cars, vintage race cars, whatever he’s driving that week. The form—everything from road diary to rambling brain dump—varies, but it’s always interesting. It doesn’t always make sense, but then, that’s Smith.

And a special thanks to Monticello Motor Club for the use of the amazing off-road park to really test the G550.—The Editors

THE CAR: 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4×4²

4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, 416 hp, 450 lb-ft

7-speed automatic

$225,925 base price

11/11 mpg EPA

What in sweet unholy Satan-blazes is this?

This, my friends, is the 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4×4². It is a lifted, carbon-fibered, portal-axled version of Mercedes-Benz’s venerable G550 SUV. It is available at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. It carries a warranty; 22-inch wheels; electronically adjustable, remote-reservoir dampers; and three locking differentials. It is the Kool-Aid Man in four-wheeled form. It is a bougie-thunder road cannon simultaneously magnificent and terrible. It is the German equivalent of a Gold’s Gym filled with ‘roid-raging Disney cartoons. It is the king of the sovereign land of Driveoverthatshitenstein. It is Der Spiegel for people who want to know what happened today in the Federal Republic of Send It.

It is also what you build if you are:

  1. One of the world’s largest carmakers
  2. Still selling a luxury SUV (the standard G-class) based on a quasi-military vehicle designed in the 1970s
  3. Fully aware that the development costs and tooling of said luxury vehicle were paid for decades ago
  4. Fully aware that brand equity and fashion have allowed said luxury vehicle to command a six-figure MSRP in 2018
  5. Fully aware that most governments regulate trucks and truck-based SUVs far more leniently than they do “normal” automobiles
  6. Looking to sell something more absurd and costly than the G65—which costs $222,700 and has a V12—because rich folk always want something more absurd and costly than what the rich folk down the block have.

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