Vehicle Overview

More than one automaker would like to believe that its sport utility vehicle is the ultimate one. Mercedes-Benz took a bold step in that direction with the G-Class (G500), which evolved from the no-compromises Geläendewagen that had been sold in Europe. Introduced during the 2002 model year, the limited-production G500 had a sticker price of $72,500 (not including the destination charge). Because of its midseason debut, only minor modifications are likely for 2003, but Mercedes-Benz has not yet released any information.

With its M-Class model on sale in the United States since 1998, Mercedes-Benz focused largely on road-going manners. The Geläendewagen, in contrast, is a hard-core offroad machine inspired by the demands of military service but transformed into a high-end luxury SUV. The German automaker claims that it will climb an 80-percent grade and remain stable on a 54-percent lateral slope. Handcrafted in Graz, Austria, the G500 faces such competitors as the V-8-powered BMW X5, the Land Rover Range Rover 4.6 HSE, the Lexus LX 470 and even the Hummer H1. Far more than the M-Class, the G500 is nearly in a class by itself.

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