Two cars, two different approaches – which off-roader would you pick?
In several ways, the Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon are similar animals. They were both born of the military demands of their respective countries, hauling soldiers through harsh, unforgiving terrain. Both retain a more rugged, body-on-frame design. And both have ground clearance, four-wheel drive and locking differentials to take their owners well off the beaten track. However, the Wrangler and the G-Wagon now take wholly different approaches to the concept of off-roading than their forebears.
While the Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon can both conquer off-road, the Geländewagen (translated as “cross-country vehicle”) takes a more luxurious approach to off-roading. It does have substantially more horsepower – 416 to the Wrangler’s 285 with the V6, or 270 with the turbocharged four-cylinder. But then it would need more power, as it has to cart around all that leather and three locking differentials, to the Jeep’s two. The Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon weighs nearly 6,000 pounds. That 4.0-liter biturbo V8 helps give the G-Wagon the grunt it needs to go off-road and tow up to 7,000 pounds.
On the downside, the Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon are miles apart on price. Taking the luxurious approach isn’t cheap: the Mercedes costs $141,995 as tested. That’s three times what a 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon Unlimited sets you back. Mind you, the G-Wagon has long been separated from its humble squad carrier roots, as the latest versions are more about cruising Rodeo Drive than the Rubicon Trail.
Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon
Jeep has improved the Wrangler in its latest JL iteration, as we at TFLcar have demonstrated. The Rubicon does have two locking differentials – front and rear – as well as an electronic sway bar disconnect. Not only that, but you can remove the doors and the top. The windshield is even easier to fold down, although the A-pillars do remain in place. Best yet, at just $40,995 and up, the Rubicon is significantly less expensive than the G-Wagon. It may be pricey for a Jeep, but against the likes of a $142,000 mega-SUV, the Wrangler looks like a true bargain for the off-road enthusiast.
So, which would you have? The American-as-apple-pie Jeep Wrangler or the Germanic G-Wagon? They both, of course, have their charms and both can do some serious off-roading, making an easy trek of light to moderate trails like this one near Welches, Oregon. Let us know what you think of both cars in the comments below! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more news, views, and real-world, off-roading reviews.