Geländewagen – also known as a “cross country vehicle”.
For nearly 40 years, Mercedes-Benz’s “G” has been the iconic bad boy in the manufacturer’s model lineup. While the “G” was initially built and designed for the roughest off-road applications, most “G” encounters these days are likely to be found at the highest end restaurants or country clubs in your neighborhood. And while the “G” may shine in its head-turning design and incomparable luxury detail, it is an absolute off-road world beater. Throw in an AMG performance variant and you have Mercedes-Benz’s most intense SUV available. We give you the 2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG G63.
Things we dig…
Beastly V-8 biturbo engine
Serious off-road chops
Luxury appointments for days
Things we don’t…
It’s so expensive
Wallet-shock at the gas pump
There is a newly redesigned “G” coming for the 2019 model year so changes to the 2018 AMG G63 are kept to a minimum. The “G” keeps a timeless boxy silhouette that has been a styling mainstay since 1979. Typical SUV styling themes have shifted to smoother, more curvy lines but not the “G”. Mercedes-Benz engineers have made subtle changes to further distinguish it from the rest of the lineup. Many times vehicles are described as “masculine” or having “muscular” architecture but none live up to this description as much as the AMG G63 does. Chiseled rooflines work their way to a very large and up right windshield and continue across a relatively high but flat roofline.
The typical rear lift gate found on most SUVs is absent due to the G 63’s large swing-open rear door. The mounted spare, with color-matched exterior tire cover (part of the AMG Performance Studio Package), only adds to the fact that this luxurious beast is ready to get down and dirty.
There is a clear off-road design architecture and it’s noted throughout – doors are hefty and have a very substantial thunk! sound when they close; front and rear fenders are fully flared letting you know it can take on any terrain; and it has a massive high-chrome grille guard ready to bust through any urban or off-road barricade in its way.
Although the 2018 AMG G63 boasts a tough and very non-conventional exterior, the interior delights its occupants with it’s ultra-high level of luxury and class. There are many details throughout the interior that are hand-crafted or at least appear as much. Premium designo® Black Nappa Leather with contrast cross-stitching are a fantastic touch. The dash also receives leather treatment and there are plenty of polished wood and chrome accents throughout the cabin. An 8-inch tablet screen is your command center for all things infotainment. The AMG Performance Studio Package include features such as carbon fiber trim, matching exterior paint and AMG red-painted brake calipers.
The instrument panel has a decent-sized color info screen surrounded by two round gauges. Trim around the gauges as well as the rest of the center console are clean and appointed like you would expect a Mercedes-Benz to be.
Included standard safety features are a Blind Spot Assist, a parking aid called PARKTRONIC and the adaptive cruise control system called DISTRONIC PLUS.
Performance & Driving
There are two potent engine choices of the AMG variant of the “G” but our G63 came with a 5.5-liter bi-turbo V8 pumping out 563 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. Power is transmitted through an AMG-tuned 7-speed automatic transmission. That’s the good news. The bad news is discovered once you make multiple trips to the pump. Fuel mileage for the G63 is EPA-rated at 12 mpg city / 15 mpg highway and 13 mpg combined. And make no mistake; with an engine this potent and fun to light up, you WILL be making plenty of trips to the local gas station.
While the power and performance is there, driving feel and comfort are not. The driving feels like you’ve stepped back in time…say around 40 years or so. While the suspension and off-road equipment make it like a utility knife off-pavement, you’re pretty much stuck with a plastic butter knife on the streets. It’s undoubtedly fast and an AMG-specific suspension keeps you safe enough but if you get a little too spirited through turns, you might start to rethink your life choices. And overall ride feel is as boxy-feeling as the G63 looks. You will feel every pothole, every bump and imperfection on the road.
Our 2018 AMG G63’s MSRP was $142,800. Add in the AMG Performance Studio Package for an extra $20,000 as well as a destination and delivery fee of $995 and you get a total of $163,795. Obviously thrills, luxury, attention and status don’t come cheap. But gracious it is a fun vehicle to drive and be seen in. Is that a cheap admission of a very shallow trait? Yes. And I’m quite alright with it.
Everything about this vehicle is a potent pairing of brute + lux. Yet everything about this vehicle doesn’t make sense. But that’s precisely why I love it. It flies in the face of conventional SUVs, it boasts a “LOOK AT ME!” show car like vibe, yet can tackle the toughest of off-road terrains around the world, and it punishes you at the gas pump. It is that ex-girlfriend that has broken your heart multiple times over but it hurts so good that you keep coming back for more.
Sometimes the one that makes the least amount of sense is the one you love the most.
See you on the road,