NEW FOR 2009:

– New G550 with 5.5-litre V8 replaces G500
– New-generation audio and communications systems
– Redesigned radiator grille and wheel designs
– Standard ambient lighting, air-ventilated front seats and multi-contour passenger seat
– Exterior colour: Peridot Brown Metallic added

For 2009, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has a model change: the G500 of 2008 is replaced with the G550, which moves up from the previous 5.0-litre V8 to a 5.5-litre V8, with an increase of 86 horsepower and an extra 55 lb-ft of torque. The G55 AMG retains its supercharged 5.5-litre V8, but has an increase of 7 horsepower.

Both models also receive COMAND APS with hard-drive-based navigation system, MP3, Bluetooth, DVD changer and SD card slot, and a media interface for music players such as an iPod, while the G55 AMG also gets Natural Maple Grain wood trim and an Alcantara headliner. Prices are unchanged from 2008.

Short for Geländewagen, the G-Class is only available by special order in Canada. The G550 uses a 5.5-litre V8 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission, while the G55 AMG uses a supercharged 5.5-litre V8 and five-speed automatic. Both use 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive.

Features include 18-inch or 19-inch wheels, ten-way multi-contour heated and ventilated seats with three-position memory and multi-contour driver’s seat, anti-theft alarm system, auto-dimming rearview and driver’s side mirrors, wood trim, cellular telephone pre-wiring, COMAND APS navigation system, cruise control, front and rear reading lights, Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 Surround Sound system with CD changer, garage door opener, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with power tilt and telescopic column, rearview camera, split-folding rear seats, automatic climate control, TeleAid emergency calling system, tire pressure monitoring system, entrance lamps, rain-sensing wipers, headlamp washers, Parktronic parking assist, power sunroof and stainless steel running boards.

The G-Class is purpose-built, and it’s very capable in the great outdoors, with solid axles and the ability to climb grades up to 36 degrees, and transverse slopes up to 24 degrees. It’s huge, both inside and out, and the ride is surprisingly comfortable despite its military roots. Originally meant to be retired with the introduction of the GL-Class, it proved so popular with enthusiasts that the company decided to keep it.

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