A Used Mercedes G-Wagon Is a Better Toyota 4Runner
For fans of old-school off-road SUVs, the Toyota 4Runner has a lot to offer. But the TRD Pro models, new or used, aren’t exactly cheap. Plus, although the 4Runner received some welcome upgrades recently, it’s definitely showing its age. However, if you’re after a similarly-hardcore SUV, there’s one which also adds a bit more luxury: a used Mercedes G-Wagon.
Used Mercedes G-Wagon vs. Toyota 4Runner: specs
Today, every Toyota 4Runner comes with a 4.0-liter V6, rated at 270 hp and 278 lb-ft, and a 5-speed automatic. That’s been the case since 2009, when the optional 4.7-liter V8, which made 260 hp and 306 lb-ft, was dropped.
Meanwhile, the US-market non-AMG Mercedes G-Wagon is exclusively V8-powered. In 2008—which we’re using being the average used car is 12 years old—the SUV came with a 5.0-liter V8, rated at 292 hp and 336 lb-ft, Cars.com reports.
This was replaced in 2009 with a 5.5-liter V8, making 382 hp and 391 lb-ft, Motor Trend reports. 2009 also saw the 5-speed automatic replaced with a 7-speed. And in 2015, the Mercedes G-Wagon received a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, rated at 416 hp and 450 lb-ft, Car and Driver reports.
However, it’s possible to get a Mercedes G-Wagon without a V8. International and military models typically used four- or six-cylinder engines, in gasoline and diesel form. Getting one of these SUVs does mean going with an older-model example.
Luckily, as with the Toyota 4Runner, part of the G-Wagon’s appeal is the relative lack of significant updates. The out-going G-Class was in production from 1990-2018, Automobile reports. Meaning, a 2000-or-earlier G-Wagen is roughly the same as a 2017 one, minus some electronics and interior refinement.
Which, for off-roading, is by no means a bad thing. True, a used Mercedes G-Wagon doesn’t have quite the same ground clearance as the new Toyota 4Runner. The TRD Pro has 9.6”, Cars.com reports, with the 2009 G-Wagon has 8”, Truck Trend reports.
However, the latter has better approach, departure, and break-over angles, Cars.com, and R&T report. Plus, while the 4Runner offers 4WD with transfer case, the G-Wagon has full-time 4WD with high- and low-range. And though the TRD Pro has 2 locking differentials, the Mercedes has 3 of them.
Mercedes G-Wagon vs. Toyota 4Runner: driving and features
On normal roads, both the Mercedes G-Wagon and Toyota 4Runner behave fairly similarly. Namely, as heavy, tall, body-on-frame SUVs. The redesigned 2019 G-Class addressed some of those issues but didn’t fully eliminate them.
As the more modern SUV, the Toyota 4Runner does have a few more standard features. The 2020 model offers Toyota’s full driver-assistance suite, MT reports, with features like adaptive cruise control and lane-departure alert. It also has a touchscreen infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. Plus, the TRD Pro model gets heated and ventilated front seats.
However, as a luxury SUV, the Mercedes G-Wagon isn’t hurting on features. The 2009 model, for example, came with built-in navigation, Bluetooth, as well as heated and cooled seats. That’s in addition to the standard leather upholstery and wood trim. And later versions did offer some ADAS features as well.
Pricing and reliability
The 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro starts at $49,865. Meanwhile, a 2020 Mercedes G550 starts at just under $131k, with gently-used ones not much cheaper. The German SUV retains its value well, in part because the older ones look very much like the newer ones.
However, it’s possible to find 2008-era Mercedes G-Wagons with under 100,000 miles for less than $40,000 on Autotrader. The same goes for Bring a Trailer. Plus, if you’re willing to go slightly older, you can find G-Wagons for closer to $30,000.
Naturally, as a high-end luxury SUV, Mercedes G-Wagon maintenance and parts will be more expensive than on the Toyota 4Runner. And, with more electronics, there are more chances for things to break. That, and the earlier 5-speed’s higher-rated toughness, is why many fans recommend the 2002-2005 models, BenzWorld forum users report.
But CarComplaints lists only a handful of isolated G-Wagon issues. And by 2008, Mercedes had resolved the pre-2004 models’ battery-draining tendencies and other electrical problems, PistonHeads reports. These SUVs do require regular oil and differential fluid changes. However, because the V8s use timing chains, not belts, they can accumulate high mileages without much issue, BenzWorld forum users report.
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