Oh, glorious day: Mercedes will bring the G550 4x4^2 to the US, after all

by Andrew Krok

The portal-axle ute you never knew you wanted will arrive on our shores by early 2017.

Mercedes-Benz's G-Class, otherwise known as the Geländewagen (German for "cross-country vehicle"), is a true workhorse. It's been on sale since 1979, and honestly, it hasn't changed all that much in that time. It's a very capable old brute, but there's an even more proficient Leviathan, and it will arrive in the US by early next year.

The G550 4x42 (it reads as "four-by-four squared") isn't your average Geländewagen, and much of it is thanks to one unique addition -- portal axles. A vehicle equipped with portal axles can tuck the axle tubes and differentials much higher up, which aids ground clearance. Gear reduction at the wheel hub means the differential can be smaller, too.

As a result, the G550 4x42 features some damn impressive off-road figures. It has a 17.2-inch ground clearance and its maximum factory fording depth is 39.4 inches. Its approach angle is 51.6 degrees, departure is 47.4 and its breakover angle is 47.4 degrees. Those last three figures are each about 20 degrees higher than on a standard G550. Its ground clearance is nearly double, and fording depth is more than a foot higher, as well.