The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class has received its most comprehensive update in decades, though you’d probably never guess it from the exterior of this rugged SUV. While the original G-Class started life as a military-grade off-roader, it slowly reinvented itself into a square-shaped luxury hauler favored by the rich and famous.

The 2019 model adds some modern practicality while retaining the truck’s nostalgic appeal and all-terrain credentials.

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The 2019 G-Class made its global debut at the Detroit Auto Show. If anything, the round LED headlights and upright lines of the new model somehow make it look even more vintage than before. Mercedes says the only carryover elements are the lights over the front fenders.

The new G-Class is bigger, having grown approximately 2 inches longer and almost 5 inches wider than the previous version. This frees up considerable room inside, particularly for rear passengers who faced a surprising shortage of legroom in the outgoing model.

Under the boxy sheet metal is a host of mechanical and cosmetic improvements. For the first time, this status symbol gets an independent front suspension. The solid front axle has been replaced by a more sophisticated double-wishbone suspension to improve ride and handling. (Adventurers needn’t worry; Mercedes insists the G-Class will remain just as capable off-road as it was before.)  

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class interior

The new G-Class is also significantly lighter than before, though Mercedes could not confirm exactly how much weight had been trimmed because the truck’s exact U.S. specifications have not been confirmed.

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Although the exterior has received only a modest makeover, the cabin has been thoroughly brought into the 21st century. The dials, vents, and infotainment system mirror what a Mercedes customer would find in a typical E-Class or S-Class luxury sedan. An optional digital instrument panel combines two 12.3-inch panels (one for the instrument cluster and the other for the infotainment system) on the dashboard, creating a continuous and customizable display.

A 416-horsepower twin-turbo V8 powers the base model G550 (a more powerful AMG version is expected in the future), and it comes paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard, and a range of off-road biased gear ratios and locking differentials are available should the G-Class owner care to venture onto unpaved terrain.

Set to go on sale toward the end of this year, Mercedes has not revealed pricing for the G-Class. The previous version carried a hefty starting price of more than $120,000.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class rear