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The Tale of Exploring the Appalachian Mountains in a Mercedes G550

Image Source: Unsplash

Dear Lamborghini Countach,

I wanted to let you know that you are no longer my ultimate dream car. You may not remember me, but I won a poster of you back in 1988 and proudly displayed you on my bedroom wall alongside Cindy Crawford. You were once my dream car, a term I haven’t used since I outgrew having car posters. Now, you have been replaced by the Mercedes G.

During my time with the Mercedes G550, three things stood out the most to me. Firstly, many people expressed that the G550 was their dream car, even those not typically interested in cars. Secondly, male drivers seemed eager to challenge me to races, interpreting the mere presence of the G550 on the road as a competition. Lastly, I was surprised by how smoothly the G550 performed despite its tough appearance.

The G in G550 stands for Geländewagen (off-road vehicle). Initially designed in Austria in 1979, it took a while for this rugged vehicle to reach the U.S. market. Over time, its design evolved from purely functional to more luxurious interiors, with the U.S. direct import starting in 2001. The G-Class achieved its current status as a versatile, luxury SUV following a significant makeover in 2018. Today, the G550 remains at the top of its game until an electric version becomes available.


The matte black color of the G550 I drove gave me a sense of being Batman on a safari. While I typically find matte black car finishes too flashy, in this case, it seemed to soften the boldness of the G550. Noteworthy exterior elements include the iconic angular design, doors that close with a solid thud reminiscent of a vintage refrigerator, and dramatic lighting details like the circular running lights and illuminated Mercedes emblem. The G550 sits high above the road, making entry a bit of a climb, akin to getting into a truck.


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The interior of the G550 is truly striking. The standout feature is the circular metal air vents with sleek slats reminiscent of a watch face. Despite the bold choice of red perforated leather seats in the model I tested, it complemented the matte black exterior well. The dashboard features a touchpad and knob for media controls, with a single screen serving as both the instrument cluster and media interface. The interior boasts a heated Nappa leather steering wheel and a modern frameless rearview mirror. While there is ample headroom due to the vehicle’s height, the cargo space is shallow but tall, requiring clever packing for trips.


Starting the G550’s engine is an experience in itself, with a roar that’s hard to ignore. The 416-horsepower V8 engine effortlessly tackled the steep incline of the Saluda Grade mountain pass in North Carolina. Despite its boxy shape, the G550 always delivers power and speed thanks to its twin turbochargers strategically placed in the engine. The vehicle’s off-road capabilities shone during a snowstorm in Highlands, North Carolina, showcasing its adaptability on various terrains.


Equipped with several optional features like the exclusive interior package and adaptive suspension, the G550 I drove totaled over 158K. Owning a G550 seems to be an emotional decision, even for those with the means to afford it. As a journalist, driving the G550 was a standout experience for me, and I eagerly look forward to the next opportunity to take it off-road.

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