A Guide To Buying A 2002-2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class (W463)

After a suggestion from the Shah of Iran, Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Austria struck a deal to produce a Mercedes-Benz military vehicle. After a few years of development, the Geländewagen arrived in the late 1970s. “Gelände” is the German word for “terrain,” which was fitting, as the primary purpose of this vehicle was to be unstoppable off-road. Eventually, they shortened the full name to G-Wagen, and eventually, it became the G-Class.

After the G-Class experienced a spurt of popularity thanks to its rugged image and its eventual offering of luxury features, like any other Mercedes model, it went on to become an icon of off-road SUVs. The latest one is far too expensive, but the previous generation is a lot more affordable, and definitely worthy of attention.

Key Features

  • A proper Mercedes
  • V8 and V12 power
  • 4WD capabilities

  • Model: G-Class
  • Engine: Various
  • Horsepower: 292-621 hp
  • Torque: 336-391 lb/ft
  • Drivetrain: Front engine, 4WD
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic/7-speed automatic

  • One of the most iconic off-roaders
  • Standard 4WD and locking diffs
  • Luxurious and packed with features

  • Cramped interior
  • Unwieldy on-road handling
  • Expensive maintenance

2002-2018 G-Class Overview

Even though the Mercedes G-Class was around in Europe since the very beginning, it didn’t arrive in North America officially until 2002. North America got the W463 model, which is part of the second generation of the G-Class. At the beginning of the second generation, Mercedes split the G-Class into two separate models. One of them goes by the Professional moniker these days, and it’s a more utilitarian version, similar to the original one. The other is the G-Class we all know and love, the regular civilian model with luxuries and amenities.

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Even though Mercedes offered a variety of engines on the G-Class in Europe, including some of their iconic indestructible diesels, North America only got V8 power and, for the select few that were willing to take the risk, V12 power as well. For all the 16 years of its life, little to nothing changed on the exterior. The only major changes throughout the W463’s life were the light groups, the interior design, and the alloy wheels. Almost everything else remained exactly the same, including the button door handles, the signature clicky door latches, the rain gutters, and the signature turn signals mounted atop the fenders. This, in turn, meant that it was pretty much exactly the same as the original Geländewagen from the ’70s and ’80s. For good and bad.

2002-2018 G-Class Powertrain And Drivetrain

A pretty good variety of powertrains appeared under the hood of the W463 G-Class. The first run of cars in North America were G500s, which meant a 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8 with 292 hp and 336 lb-ft of torque. Starting in 2005, the G550 came along, which used a 5.5-liter V8, but with 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. These had plenty of power to propel this big truck, but eventually, the AMG model joined the lineup. The G55 AMG used a supercharged 5.5-liter V8, which developed 500 hp by the end of its run. For a short while, Mercedes offered the G63 AMG, which also used a 5.5-liter V8, but this time with twin-turbos, resulting in an output of up to 563 hp. Finally, there was the big daddy, the G65 AMG. Yes, Mercedes-AMG crammed a V12 under the hood of this vehicle. At the end of the run, the G65 AMG put down 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque.

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All of these powertrains send power to all four wheels through a permanent 4WD system, and either a five-speed automatic transmission, or a seven-speed automatic. The G-Class could do on-road driving, and a lot of owners used them for that, but its true home is off the pavement. Thanks to the 4WD system, the high ground clearance, and the three locking differentials that the driver activates through the iconic switches on the dash, very few vehicles can match a G-Wagen on the rough stuff. With a good set of off-road tires, it’s pretty much unstoppable.

2002-2018 G-Class Comfort And Quality

The interior is a very interesting discussion point about the G-Class. Over the course of its 16-year production run, Mercedes-Benz interior design changed numerous times. Mercedes, naturally, supplemented this by simply reconfiguring and embellishing the interior with whatever they were putting in the rest of their lineup around that time. That’s why the earliest G-Class models feel like a late ’90s E-Class on the inside, the late 2000s models look like a mid-2000s E-Class, which in itself is one of the best generations to buy used, and so he. This means that the G-Class got very luxurious overtime, and all of the technology you’d expect to find in a Mercedes from those 16 years, you would also find in the G-Class to some extent. However, there were also clear signs of its age, including the manual parking brake, the basketball hoop cup holder, the locking diff switches, and the iconic grab handle.

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As for reliability, the G-Class is notoriously not very cheap to maintain. Some of the more well-known things to look out for include drive shaft failure, rust around the tailgate and the taillights themselves, and suspension springs and other components breaking if the previous owner used it for extensive off-roading. These are things to look out for, and if the one you’re looking at has them, it’s more cost-effective to find a different one altogether. The G-Class has a pretty massive cargo area, although the door is quite heavy, and it does seat five passengers in decent comfort.

2002-2018 G-Class Prices

Due to the variety of stuff going on in the car industry, and the importance and fame of the nameplate, the W463 G-Class isn’t really cheap, like most other Mercedes models from the 2000s. However, compared to the latest one, it’s far more affordable. Classic.com estimates the average value of the G to be around $55,500, which isn’t bad, considering the latest one costs well over $150,000, and it just got a price increase for 2022. Some examples can go for cheaper than that, and if you can find a sorted one, you could own one of the most iconic off-roaders in all of automotive history.

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