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2022 Mercedes AMG 4×4², All you want to know & watch about a Great Car

 

2022 Mercedes-AMG 4×4² First Drive: Same Lunacy, Back for Round 2

The 4×4 Squared returns, but it costs even more than ever.

033 2022 Mercedes Amg G63 4x4 Squared First Drive
mercedes-benz g-class Full Overview

Big news for all of you wealthy mud-bogging fans: The G-Wagen on portal axles has returned for a second generation. This is the 2022 Mercedes-AMG G63 4×4², or 4×4 Squared, if you prefer. Bigger, more powerful, more capable, and much more expensive, the latest 4×4² proves that warlord chic never goes out of style; it just goes underground for a few years.

The fine folks at Mercedes PR rang me a little while back and asked if I’d like to be the first person to drive the first G63 4×4² in the country. That led to a weeklong test of AMG’s new monster truck, both on-road and off. Normally at this point I’ll hit you with a no-brainer rhetorical jab like, “Is it any good?” Not to wreck the surprise, but yes, it’s excellent. The question then becomes, is the new 4×4² worth its $350,050 price tag, $359,050 as tested?

What It’s Like: Day 1

It took me three hours to stop snickering. No, really; from the moment the 2022 Mercedes-AMG G63 4×4² arrived in my driveway, I just laughed. What a preposterous thing! Then I jumped in and drove around for a couple hours, laughing even more the whole time. Observation: No one on the east side of Los Angeles likes the G63 4×4² very much.

Had I gone west of La Brea into the fancier sections of the city I’m positive I would have gotten fewer stink faces. Had I gone to Calabasas (home base of the Kardashians) I’d have been appointed mayor, no doubt. At a light I saw a guy in a red Miata absolutely mad-dogging me, his look indicating that he had something against my ancestors. I smiled and waved, and I swear he snarled at me.

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About five years ago I borrowed an Alien Green G65 (the one with the V-12) and not to bring up the Kardashian clan twice in two paragraphs, but people were looking at me in that thing as if I were Robert’s long-lost son. Which at first is annoying, but then about a day into it you realize you don’t care what others think of your car and you’re thankful it’s so easy to spot in a parking lot. Well, friends, this China Blue beauty is even easier to find, and I cracked up every time I spied it.

The driving experience is humorous, as well—entering the freeway for the first time, I passed a second-generation Cadillac Escalade and was able to look down through its sunroof. LULZ, as the kids probably said at some point.

030 2022 Mercedes Amg G63 4x4 Squared First Drive

What’s It All About?

The process of turning a regular G-Class into a 4×4² is fairly straightforward. In a sentence, the wheel hubs are swapped out in favor of portal axles, and that’s most of it. What’s a portal axle? It’s a hub where instead of entering the center point of the wheel, the halfshafts go into the top of the hub and then are geared down. This creates much more ground clearance than stock.

Notably, the new 4×4² has portals on both its solid rear axle and the independent arrangement up front. This is the first such setup in the world. Other changes include bigger wheels and wider tires, carbon-fiber fender flares, a carbon-fiber light rack on the roof, a much harder-core-looking spare tire carrier, and perhaps the toughest rear bumper ever put on a vehicle. I advise not driving into it. Oh, and really big mud flaps.

Powering the biggest G63 is AMG’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 all-star. Here, it pumps out 577 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque. The power hits an off-road-optimized edition of AMG’s nine-speed wet-clutch automatic transmission complete with a transfer case (for 4-Low) and permanent AWD. Like all Geländewagens, the G-Class 4×4² has three locking differentials (center, rear, and front—they lock in that specific order).

Like milder G-Wagens, the big boy has three seemingly hidden off-road modes, Sand, Trail, and Rock. They’re kind of hidden because you can’t access any of them unless you lock the center diff. Oh, and Mercedes is claiming 60 mph is achieved in 5.0 seconds.

I tried to compare the physical bulk of the new Papa G against my memory of the previous-generation Mercedes-Benz G500 4×4 Squared. In my mind the old one seemed even larger, but I know the new G-Wagen, introduced back in 2019, is larger in every dimension. Some sort of optical illusion is at play. Here’s the truth: The G63 4×4² is larger than the G500 in the same ways the W463 grew compared to the W462, with one big exception.

2023 Mercedes AMG G63 4×4, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car

The wheelbase is increased by 0.9 inch; the height is up by 0.8 inch to nearly 7 feet, 5 inches; and the width has swelled by more than 5 inches. Again, all of this is in line with the growth of the new G. The length, however, at least on paper, stands out: It’s increased by 17.4 inches. What gives? If you haven’t Google searched up an image yet, the G500 did not have a spare tire carrier. The new G-Wagen itself is actually only 3.9 inches longer than the rig it replaced.

Mercedes claims the new 4×4² is (somehow) 379 pounds lighter than ye olde one. Go and figure, but if it’s true, that’s a good thing. Also good are the G-Wagen Squared’s off-road angles. The approach angle is a massive 41.3 degrees, whereas the departure angle is 36.8 degrees. To put that in perspective, a Ford Bronco Raptor has an unbelievable approach angle of 47.2 degrees and a departure angle of 40.5 degrees, and a Jeep Wrangler 392 Rubicon has an approach angle of 44.5 degrees and a departure of 37.5.

The 4×4² beats ’em both with a breakover angle of 42 degrees. The Braptor’s is but 30.8 degrees (which is excellent, actually), and the 392’s is a paltry 22.6 degrees. Because of the independent front suspension, ground clearance drops from the previous rig’s 17.7 inches to “just” 13.8. Before you cry, realize the Braptor—perhaps the most capable production rock crawler in the world—has 13.1 inches of clearance and the Wrangler 392 offers up 12.9.

026 2022 Mercedes Amg G63 4x4 Squared First Drive

But How Does It Drive?

Unexpectedly great. The previous 4×4² was another giggle-inducer, and part of that was how rough around the edges it was. There’s a guy out in Las Vegas named Bill Rader who has not so quietly become the American expert on G-Wagens with portal axles. We speak once in a blue moon, and he had this to say about the W462 4×4² and its cousins: “The old one and the 6×6 also had a lot of odd fit and finish items that always make me laugh every time I take one apart.”

I mentioned to Bill that the new one no longer rocks back and forth when you hit the brakes. “That was the axle roll out and the bushings in the radius arms.” Totally. I think. Point is, there was something a bit crude about it, for better or worse.

As for the new 4×4², honestly, if you can ignore the fact that you’re 7 feet in the air, you’d think you were driving a regular G63. I’m not sure how AMG’s engineers cured the axle roll out issue seemingly inherent to vehicles on portal axles, but they did.

Actually, I do remember driving the Mercedes-Benz E400 All-Terrain 4×4 Squared, and I wouldn’t be shocked if its portal axle tech wound up in this new G. I’d say that 95 percent of the time a given driver will be totally unaware they’re rocking portals. Every now and again there’s a noisy grind or a bit of gear lash to remind you that, oh yeah, this thing is different and special.

Does it handle? Could it be fun to drive? Yes and yes. I think G-Wagens are inherently fun to drive, especially the AMG versions. I could be out of my mind, but there’s just something inherently excellent about a brick with way too much power that drives way better than it ought to. Add in the audacity of the extra height and heft of the 4×4², and you have a recipe for a grand old time, even if you’re just running down the street for milk and eggs.

What about a curvy road? I was amazed at how planted, elegant, and sober the 4×4² was when tackling corners. Obviously, the more sweeping the corner, the better the big boy felt. But I was impressed by how the 4×4² handled tight twisties. Not like a sports car, of course, but damn impressive for a tank.

Yes, But Off-Road?

Unstoppable is the first word that springs to mind. Now granted, I didn’t go to the toughest challenge possible. But I did take the 4×4² to a pretty difficult black diamond trail at a place 30 minutes from my home called Rowher Flats. The trail is a nice mix of loose dirt and craggy rocks that most machines equipped with low gears can conquer. That said, I specifically chose Rowher because I previously took a G63 equipped with the off-road package up the same trail, and while that AMG made it no problem, I did scrape some paint from the lower part of the front fascia.

Not the end of the world, but damage all the same. I wanted to see if I could choose more or less the same line and escape unscathed. The 4×4² finished not only unscathed, but I don’t think it was ever in danger of being scathed. Nothing came close to touching the front end.

Confession time: Due to reasons too boring to type, my time was short, so I opted not to air down the G63 4×4²’s massive 325/55/22 Pirelli Scorpion tires. Had I done so, the unstoppable G would have been even more so. But since I did not, every once in a while, on a steep, sandy section, the forward progress would grind to a halt as the front tires searched for purchase. The solution was to activate the front locker. Problem totally solved. I had to do that three times on the trail. I’m confident that had the tires been at 18 psi this wouldn’t have been an issue.

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This mega off-roader does like to go up on three wheels pretty often—that’s the true downside to not having a stick axle up front—and I’m guessing it’s because you’re physically so far off the ground, but the SUV feels detached from what’s happening when its nose is pointed skyward. Part of the detachment also has to do with how sealed the cabin is from outside noises and vibrations.

Remember, despite looking like a monster truck, the G63 is a luxury vehicle. You quickly get used to the 4×4 Squared’s detached floatiness and develop a strong faith that the thing is just going to drive over what’s in front of it. Best to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

013 2022 Mercedes Amg G63 4x4 Squared First Drive

Ahem, How Much?

This sucker starts at $350,050, which, even in our inflationary world, feels like a lot of cash. Especially when you consider that the old version began at $227,300. True, it wasn’t an AMG, but you could buy a perfectly wonderful Mercedes G550 for $123K less. Well, you could have. Then midway through the pandemic Mercedes quietly raised the price of a “base” G-Wagen to $140K. Back to the $350,050 price; what other SUVs cost that much? The obvious one is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which starts at $341,500.

The not so obvious one is the Range Rover SV Carmel Edition that goes for $346,475. Of course, exclusivity played a role in that number as only 17 will be built and you had to have attended Land Rover’s Pebble Beach Car Week party this year to be allowed to purchase one. (I was there! I did not buy one! Also, hot tip: Look for more Range Rovers at that specific price point.)

What else? The Bentley Bentayga Speed EWB probably starts life at a bit more than $260,000, and you can easily option it up past the $300K point. Same basic story is true for the Aston Martin DBX707 and the Lamborghini Urus Performante. The Ferrari Purosangue will be about $400,000 when it arrives. As you can see, there is competition for the G63 4×4², at least in terms of price.

However, none of those have so much as a frame, and only the Range Rover has low gears. Portal axles? Ha! If you’re in the market for a super-high-end, ultra-luxe SUV that can actually do SUV things, it’s basically a party of one. Unless you count restomod stuff like an Icon FJ. Having driven most of those included above—save for the two Italians that aren’t out yet—were I to drop $350K on an off-roader I’d be torn between the Icon FJ and the big daddy G. Actually, portal axles for the win. The new 4×4² is the real deal, and real good.

Looks good! More details?

2022 Mercedes-AMG G63 4×4² Specifications
Base Price $350,050 (mfr est)
Price As-Tested $359,050 (mfr est)
Layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 4.0L/577-hp/627-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8
Transmission 9-speed auto
Curb Weight 6,315 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 113.1 in
L x W x H 194.5 x 82.5 x 88.8 in
0-60 MPH 5.0 sec (mfr est)
EPA City/HWY/Comb Fuel ECON 10/12/11 mpg (MT est)
EPA Range, Comb 291 miles (MT est)
On Sale Fall

 

2022 Mercedes-AMG G63 Starting at $180,050

8/10C/D RATING
2022 mercedes amg g63
  • HIGHS: Way quicker than you’d think a giant shoebox should be, impressive off-road capability, iconic exterior design.
  • LOWS: Boxy shape causes wind noise on the highway, feels tippy in high-speed cornering maneuvers, hard-to-swallow price tag.
  • VERDICT: AMG’s high-performance version of Mercedes’s legendary G-wagen is a hot-rod off-roader that’s as charming as it is crazy.

 

Overview

Mercedes-Benz’s iconic G-wagen SUV has roots as a military vehicle, but the high-performance 2022 Mercedes-AMG G63 model serves an entirely different driver than the 1970s original. A 577-hp twin-turbocharged V-8 engine gives the G63 incredible performance, and its posh cabin offers all the modern amenities we’ve come to expect from a top-spec Mercedes.

A host of infotainment and other tech features that would have seemed like science fiction to the designers of the original truck are standard. Want to go off road? The G63 can tackle those tasks too, although we’d be nervous about nicking its sporty-looking 20-inch wheels. No matter how you intend to use it, though, the G63 is built to impress—and its price tag reflects both its skillset and status.

What’s New for 2022?

A limited run of Edition 55 models will be offered this year and feature a red-and-black interior theme, unique exterior graphics, and 22-inch wheels. Only 55 will be sold in the United States. Mercedes-AMG has made no other notable changes to the G-class for 2022. It remains one of the craziest offerings in Mercedes’s lineup thanks to its combination of bread-box styling and 577 horsepower.

 

Pricing and Which One to Buy

Although the 2022 G63 starts around $160,000, most vehicles go for considerably higher than that due to its myriad customization options. The standard equipment list is quite livable, however, since every Mercedes-AMG G63 comes with 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension damping, a front brush guard, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and three-zone climate control.

We would option our G63 with the Seat Comfort package (to get the multicontour seats with ventilation and massage) and the AMG Trail package so we’d have the proper tires for off-roading.

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Engine, Transmission, and Performance

All G63s come with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine that makes 577 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic gearbox with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters sends all that power to the all-wheel-drive system (4Matic, in Mercedes marketing lingo). Low-range gearing (2.93:1 reduction) is standard as are three locking differentials, allowing the G63 to scale steep dirt grades with ridiculous ease. At our test track, the nearly 5800-pound G63 rocketed from zero to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.

Along with its extra power, the G63 has AMG-specific suspension tuning. Ride comfort is vastly improved versus older G-wagens, but given this SUV’s towering height and off-road mission, you shouldn’t expect much in the way of handling ability. And there’s still quite a bit of wind noise at highway speeds. Properly equipped, the G63 can tow up to 6500 pounds.

2022 mercedes amg g63

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Frugality is not within the grasp of a fast, box-shaped SUV. The EPA rates the G63 at 13/15 mpg city/highway. In our 75-mpg highway fuel economy test, the G63 beat its EPA rating by delivering a 16-mpg result. For more information about the G-class’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.

 

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

Although the excessively rectilinear cabin will feel familiar if you’ve ever set foot in an older G-class, this is now a thoroughly modern place, with a 12.0-inch digital instrument panel, high-quality materials, and conveniences such as cupholders and a surround-view camera system.

Taller drivers and passengers will find plenty of head- and legroom in both the front and rear. Around the back of the G-class, there’s still no power liftgate, and you’ll need to be in good shape to open the side-hinged gate, which has a full-size spare tire mounted on it. With the rear seats up, you’ll have 38 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding them down (60/40 split) provides nearly 69 cubic feet.

2022 mercedes amg g63

Infotainment and Connectivity

The 2022 G63 has a standard 12.0-inch infotainment interface with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration as well as navigation. There are two USB ports up front, along with an SD card reader. Also included is a three-year subscription to Mercedes-Benz’s connected car services, which provides basic features such as remote engine starting and stolen vehicle tracking. Options include Wi-Fi and a rear entertainment system, which features dual 10.0-inch touchscreens, each of which has its own USB, auxiliary, and HDMI ports.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The Mercedes AMG G63 is not available with as many driver-assistance aids as the automaker’s cars and crossover SUVs. The G63 comes with adaptive cruise control, for example, but the system does not offer extended restart capability in stop-and-go traffic. For more information about the G-class’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:

  • Standard automated emergency braking
  • Standard lane-keeping assist
  • Standard adaptive cruise control

 

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Mercedes-AMG’s limited and powertrain warranties are on par with other high-end SUVs. Instead of complimentary scheduled maintenance, however, there are prepaid maintenance plans available at extra cost when you purchase your G63.

  • Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance

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Specifications

2019 Mercedes AMG G63

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback

PRICE AS TESTED
$175,945 (base price: $148,495)

ENGINE TYPE
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement
243 cu in, 3982 cc
Power
577 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque
627 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

TRANSMISSION
9-speed automatic

CHASSIS
Suspension (F/R): multilink/rigid axle
Brakes (F/R): 15.7-in vented, drilled disc/14.6-in vented, drilled disc
Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric SUV, 295/40R-22 112W MO

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 113.8 in
Length: 191.9 in
Width: 78.1 in
Height: 77.4 in
Passenger volume: 107 cu ft
Cargo volume: 16 cu ft
Curb weight: 5783 lb

C/D
TEST RESULTS
Zero to 60 mph: 3.9 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 10.0 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 19.7 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.1 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.3 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.5 sec @ 110 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 161 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.75 g
*stability-control-inhibited

C/D
FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 12 mpg

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 14/13/15 mpg

 

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