19 thoughts on the Mercedes-Benz G 550 Professional Edition

See Full Image Gallery >>

You get it or you don’t. It’s just that simple. I can’t think of another vehicle with such polarizing reactions as the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, or G Wagen if you prefer. And none are as G Wageny as this, the Professional Edition. While other Gs get all dolled up in big wheels and lush Designo interiors that take them far away from their go-anywhere roots, the Professional Edition goes the opposite direction. It’s unclear which profession it’s actually satisfying, but if “person who actually goes off-road” is a job, then the Mercedes-Benz G 550 Professional Edition is the G for them.

Rather than a distinct model or trim level, the Professional Edition is a $23,250 package. Many of its included elements can be had on any G 550, including gloss-black finishings for the grille, Benz star, brush guard and mirror housings, as well as 18-inch matte black wheels wearing all-terrain tires. Unique are the flush side sills in place of the usual running boards, the Professional Line spare wheel holder than can swing out separate from the tailgate, a wood cargo floor, and the most conspicuous element, the Professional roof rack/platform accessed by an also-added ladder.

As usual, the G Wagen is a lot, and this particular one is even more. As such, I had more thoughts than usual ...

1. Why is there a patio on the roof?

The Professional Roof Rack consists of aluminum plates secured at multiple points to the roof. According to the owner’s manual, “the weight of luggage on the roof including the roof luggage rack must not exceed the maximum permissible roof load.” That would be 330.7 pounds. The “roof luggage rack” weighs 132.3 pounds, ergo, you can put 198.4 pounds on the Pro’s roof rack. Note that every G Wagen has the same maximum permissible roof load, so depending on your equipment, it does seem like you could put more on the roof if you didn’t have 132.3 pounds of aluminum patio up there.

The owner’s manual also indicates how much weight you can place on any single plate: 110 pounds for most and 55 for the smallest one adjacent to the hole left for the antenna.

Certainly, though, this roof rack is more about how and what you can carry as opposed to how much it weighs. There are more tie-down points and obviously a ton more surface area than two roof bars or a basket can provide.

2. Forget the patio, what about a tent?

The owner’s manual specifically calls out a rooftop tent as a use case for the Pro’s roof rack. For that purpose, it indicates that you can double the maximum permissible roof load while the G is stationary. That would be 661.4 pounds, which is definitely on the high side, but a Subaru Forester Wilderness can support 800. Every other Forester is good for 700, although neither can manage as much in motion as the G. The only reason I mention that is because the Subaru Forester is the only other vehicle I’ve come across where roof load was prominently discussed. Then again, the Professional Edition is to the G 550 what the Wilderness is to the Forester.

Thus concludes the only time you will read a G Wagen compared to a Subaru Forester.

3. Tiny ladder, tiny shoes

To get up to the roof rack, be it tented or otherwise, you’re going to need tiny feet to utilize each rung. Of course, I doubt you’ll need each rung unless you’re a 3-year-old boy, in which case, you’ll have the tiny feet necessary. See photo above to discover why I know this.

Reaching the ladder is actually the harder part, as the grippy bit on the bumper adjacent to the swing gate isn’t in line with the ladder. The plastic bumper that is in line with the ladder doesn’t exactly scream “sturdy!”

The ladder’s max load is 220.5 pounds, by the way.

4. The roof rack ruins the sunroof

I’m guessing it would’ve been impractical from a manufacturing standpoint to delete the sunroof, but this is the view from inside looking up through the sunroof.

5. The roof rack is loud!

Want another reason to skip the roof rack and therefore the Professional Edition? It is really loud. The amount of wind noise is far greater than I was expecting, especially at highway speeds. Come to think of it, this is probably the most wind noise I’ve experienced in a new car that had a metal roof in place.

6. Closing the doors is loud!

And it’s awesome! Clack. Clack. How can something as simple as opening and closing a door latch be so satisfying? I don’t know, but the only thing better than opening and closing the four doors is opening and closing the bank vault swing gate. CLACK!!!

7. There are little G’s in the door handles (claps hands, giggling)

How adorable are these?!? There’s a little G embossed in each door-opening button … but not in the swing gate one. Whatever. So much about the G’s appeal are the details, and these are one of them.

8. There is a downside to the clack

For whatever reason, the heavy-duty door locks of the G Wagen (and the little G buttons!) preclude it from working in concert with a proximity entry system, meaning you have to use the key fob to lock and unlock the doors like some kind of peasant. Oh well. Worth it!

9. The turn signal light pods are just the best

Another must-have G Wagen quirk inherited from the original are these little pods atop the flat-as-a-pancake front fenders that light up in their entirety, giving you the rare opportunity to see your turn signals blinking from inside. Never gets old.


10. How is a wood trunk floor 'Professional'?

The Professional Edition’s only added interior element is the wood cargo floor. I don’t get it. It looks snazzy, but it seems like something that would be in the boot of a Rolls-Royce Spectre, not a “Professional” SUV intended to carry 198.4 pounds on the roof. These lovely wood planks are definitely going to be scratched.

Now, I do like the grippy rubber bumper strips that keep things from sliding around the hardwood floor they’ve put in the cargo area. This wouldn’t be a terrible idea in vehicles with carpet in the back.

Read my G 550 Professional Edition luggage test here

11. The G Wagen is very tall …

As big as the G Wagen seems, that perception is entirely driven by its towering height, made even taller with the Professional’s rooftop patio. Its width and length, however, are rather modest by modern SUV standards. That meant it fit neatly in my driveway and in parking spots. It also boasts excellent visibility in all directions.

12. … But not actually that big

The unusual dimensions also mean that interior space is lacking. While my legs aren’t squished as they were in the original G, I could still use a bit more driver seat travel (I’m 6-foot-3). Of course, if there was, the driver seat would probably be grazing the back seat.

That brings me to the back seat, which just doesn’t have much legroom. Yes, the high-mounted seats increase the chances of being comfortable, but you’ll still find yourself sitting closer to the front seats than you’d expect.

13. Wow was the last-generation Mercedes COMAND system bad

The G-Class doesn’t seem that old because its predecessor originated in the 1970s. Nevertheless, I attended its first drive all the way back in 2018, which again doesn’t sound like that long ago, but was in fact six years ago. By typical car lifespan standards, there should be a new G-Class next year. Ha! Fat chance.

Not surprisingly, then, the G-Class is behind in terms of in-car tech. The screen may be large at 12.3 inches, but it’s not running any version of MBUX. Instead, it runs the final version of COMAND that quite frankly wasn’t very good. Something even older would’ve been better. The glossy black touch pad that lets you swipe around to control things on the touchscreen was never a good interface (as proof, it didn’t last long and didn’t inspire copycats), and it got in the way of using the rotary knob inherited from previous, superior versions of COMAND. The menus are also convoluted for doing complicated and simple tasks alike. My mother’s 2016 GLC effectively has this infotainment system and she still has no idea how it works.

MBUX has had its usability issues, but it’s better than this.

14. OK, so the gauges are pretty snazzy

These gauges are also last-gen, but you’re not really missing anything there. Perhaps it would be nice if Mercedes offered some sort of throwback design like the new Mustang’s Fox Body gauges, but … actually, no, Mercedes needs to do that immediately.

15. My son is peeved by the ambient lighting selection

As I documented in my thoughts about the S 550e, my son’s most-asked-for interior feature is multi-color ambient lighting. I don’t know who Mercedes thought wanted 64 choices of ambient lighting plus a dozen or so animated color combos, but toddlers think it’s the shit.

So speaking of last-generation infotainment systems, the G-Class therefore does not have the full amazing technicolor light show available to entertain tiny kids barking orders from the back. There are ambient lighting options, as you can see below with my purple selection, but there are substantially fewer colors from which to choose, fewer ambient lighting elements to showcase them, and they seem dimmer.

Oh the humanity.

16. I could live with a less powerful version

At the first drive launch when I drove the G 550 and G 63 back to back, I came away thinking the AMG was worse.

“The AMG just doesn't feel right on road,” wrote me. “It's hard to complain about extra power, but it's unnecessary, and the AMG's firmer ride and stiffer steering actually make the G worse to drive — the standard 22-inch wheels definitely don't help. It's conflicted, frankly a bit silly (the new red exterior accents really drive that point home), and it's still so tall, tippy and heavy to realistically appreciate any semblance of a handling advantage.”

Yes, the AMG is theoretically quicker (4.4 seconds to 60 versus 5.8), but the G 550 has 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. It feels extremely quick. Too quick. That may just be a matter of perception resulting from sitting two stories up in a narrow box on wheels, but it’s the perception nevertheless.

A version with Benz’s sweet inline-six would be perfectly appropriate.

17. The side pipes are subtly cool

The AMG version may have pipes that stick out the side and hamper off-roading, but that doesn’t mean the G 550’s exhaust pokes out the back. Nope, they end in line with the rear doors, too. They just don’t stick out. They’re subtle. That’s cool.

Of course, most of the G Wagen is cool precisely because it’s NOT subtle, but whatever.

18. The steering is shockingly good

The steering in the last G Wagen was shockingly bad. Part of the charm perhaps, but “agricultural” is rarely a good adjective when describing vehicle dynamics. By contrast, the new steering isn’t just shockingly good given a low bar set by a predecessor, but good, period. It’s slow, sure, but it’s also precise, appropriately weighted and there’s some feel present. It made running up and down a tight, twisting mountain road surprisingly enjoyable despite the heave-ho body motions.

19. Least-pressed buttons ever

Most off-roaders these days have a knob or button that allows you to cycle through various off-road driving modes. See some cactus and sand out the windshield? Select the driving mode showing a cactus and some sand. A bunch of rocks? Rock mode, please. This is meant to make it easier for people to get into off-roading, or at least successfully off-road.

The G Wagen still does it old school. Sure, there’s a button needed to engage 4Lo rather than a shifter in a boot connected to a transfer case, but you still have to know to engage it in the first place. Then there are the three buttons, placed dead-center in the middle of the dash for all to see, that engage the front, center and rear locking differentials. It’s rad that they are there, and even if totally vestigial for the vast majority of owners, it speaks to the G’s heritage and very-real capability.

That said, these have to be the least-pressed prominently placed buttons ever.

Good grief, I’ve crossed 2,000 words. I could probably go on – the G Wagen yields lots of thoughts – but it’s probably best to leave it there for now. I’m sure I’ll have a few more pop up the next time I drive a G Wagen. The electric one, maybe? (Rubs hands together)

You Might Also Like