Mercedes-Benz is bringing a rugged, towering variation of the venerable G-class SUV to the United States.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4x4² is perhaps the most extreme G Wagen to reach the U.S. The AMG G63 6x6 was not available stateside.
The G550 4x4² shares the same 4.0-liter biturbo V-8 engine -- rated at 416 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque -- and 7G-Tronic transmission found in the G550.
However, at 88 inches tall, the G550 4x4² has 11 inches on the regular G550.
The extensive list of the G550 4x4²’s off-road-capable features includes a 17-inch ground clearance, three locking differentials, permanent all-wheel drive, dual springs and damper struts, two stabilizer bars and portal axles.
The portal axles, Mercedes said, allow for axle input and the wheel center to be two different heights. Power is transferred from the G550 4x4²’s axles downward to the wheel hub by using a series of gears.
Built on the existing ladder-type frame found in the G class, the steel frame is up to .16 inches thick in some areas. More than 6,400 individual welds are required during assembly. The frame is then dip-primed and powder-coated. All of the frame’s interior cavities are then treated with a hot wax for protection against water, snow, salt and sand, Mercedes said.
The company also noted that no modifications or reinforcements to the frame found under the existing G class are required to build the G550 4x4².
Photos of the European model show that the G550 4x4² has distinctive fender flares, a set of lights above the windshield and large skid plates in the front and rear. The mounted spare tire typically found on the G class has been removed.
Derived from a military vehicle, the G class went on sale in 1979 and more than 250,000 Gelaendewagens have been sold worldwide since, Mercedes says.
U.S. sales of the G class totaled 3,616 vehicles in 2015, up from 3,090 in 2014. The AMG G63 and AMG G65 make up the rest of the G-class lineup.
Pricing will be announced closer to the SUV’s launch. The G550 4x4² will reach U.S. dealerships by early 2017, Mercedes said.
The G class is hand-built in Graz, Austria.