2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 is a cubic yard of opulence, but it hasn’t lost its capability

The mostly-new qualifier applies to the engine as well, because it’s a carryover, which makes it sound old even though it isn’t. Under the still-boxy hood of the G550 is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 producing 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. But the transmission is new, as Mercedes ditched the somewhat aged seven-speed automatic in favor of a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic. While in the old old G-Class models you had to flick one of several transmission tunnel-mounted levers for off-roading, in the new G-Class it’s simply a selectable G-Mode that automatically alters the suspension, steering, transmission and engine characteristics for off-road driving. About the only thing the G-Class doesn’t do automatically for you is drive you along a trail, but that’s only because there are no lane markings and because the trail is not mapped via GPS. So you still have to do the driving yourself, thankfully.
Speaking of trail driving, the new G-Class has not become an urban luxury toy in this redesign process even though it wears giant wheels as standard equipment: Mercedes has actually improved the departure and breakover angles of the new model while keeping the approach angle the same. So you could take it off-road if you want to by simply pressing G-Mode — that’s what being in the 21st century is for.
When it comes to the interior Mercedes fitted the G550 with all of its latest tech, from infotainment to safety, but it kept some of the look of the old model’s squared-off, militaristic interior. This makes for an interesting combination of right angles, diamond-quilted leather surfaces, more right angles, 64-color ambient lighting, a giant amusement park ride-style horizontal handle for the front passengers and a wide infotainment screen that flows into the completely digital gauge cluster. It’s a wonderful mix of old and new.