New 2009 G550, 2009 G55 or 07 G55 for trips?

Jwestpro

Explorer
Maybe a silly question to some people....

So, I'm having a hard time with these - love them, really do and have even gone so far as to measure all the interior and exterior dimensions to be sure it will "work" for my needs. This is for long term, 10yrs plus and is a business deduction as well as for camping, long, long road trips to places where true 4x4 is a must and the overall strength of the G is appreciated.

We both love the newer features like the more comfortable seats for weeks of road trips, etc. We like the newer tech things on 09's but those can be added if really "needed" like better nav/bluetooth/reverse camera, etc. for far less than paying for a new 09. Going with say a 2007 G55 or waiting for a used 09 550 is cheaper by far.

16" wheels is not SO important to me, 18's have been fine on my LR3 so far (and have to be seeing as the LR3 doesn't allow any smaller without brake swap)

Newer gets up more warranty time but cpo + extended warranty would be similar time/miles.

I like the power and robust 5spd tranny in the G55, not so much for total speed but for the whole package, wider fenders for larger/wider tires such as 285/65x18. Would likely install small 1.5" OME spring lift regardless or at least G550/500 springs into a G55.

Any reasons to go for a NEW one or to NOT go for a new one aside from price?

I am compiling a little web page of images I come across that are for ideas or just cool G wagons....see below.

Thanks.
 

Scott Brady

Founder
What type of traveling are you hoping to do with the G55? Give us a few examples of the trips you plan to take, and we can better recommend a solution.

We have sincerely enjoyed our G so far. A wonderful machine.
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
Most trips so far were just "road trips" (with gravel too up to 10% of mileage/time) for 7000 miles while camping along the way either in state parks or completely away from services/people/etc.

Some have included 1-3 days of more than "gravel roads" on Colorado type "jeep trails" in either summer (mud, rocks, etc) or snow in winter/spring when more-or-less passable to a point, mainly to shorten the approach for winter mountaineering routes.

Other trips involved towing an enclosed 2 axle motorcycle trailer to the track for track days or a race.

Some shorter weekends have been just to explore the network of trails in the Cascades, some of which are passable in a VW Jetta while others have been rather steep and off camber / barely trails at all.

The vehicle for us is for long term and we like to enjoy the drive as well as the places when we get there - we enjoy "fun" autos, hence the S4 Avant 6spd but don't like to be too limited on where we can go, and how long we can stay or be self sufficient once there. This is where dual batteries at the very least have been a part of all my rovers so far, in addition to other basics like a high lift with recovery gear and such.

Future trips? Baja, Alaska, and back to New Brunswick/Labrador - most likely in winter - as well as camping where ever it's safe/legal. I hate campgrounds when anyone else is also nearby. A must is full functioning use of my current Hannibal rack, awnings, tent, etc. I also use all that as a photo platform - it's great height and easy to get to, with a fixed rear ladder like on the rovers.

Why not the 04 rover for all that? Well it "lives" in NC for work when I'm there and a vehicle has to stay there and just doesn't feel as safe for all the long trips - maybe that's silly. I do love the 04 disco. The LR3 ? it's just annoying the heck out of me most days. For example, 265/65x18 tires barely fit and once fitted, don't allow RUD chains to clear all body/suspension parts. These tires barely allow enough clearance to consider snow routes or really rocky terrain or deep ruts.

Another thing that is appalling to me in the LR3, no logical way for all 4 wheels to lock up to hold the vehicle on a really steep and loose surface slope, pointing downhill because only the rear wheels lock with the parking barke and the only way to hold all wheels is to have engine running, low gear, in reverse, then apply foot brakes, pull parking electronic brake, leave shifter IN reverse, then get out. The discos with CDL, simply lock the drivetrain via center and all 4 hold. As I understand the G can be done by locking the center or all three, then shutting down? or at least something better than lr3 version - which has no on demand lockers and only computer determined center and rear.

Just for the fun factor, the G55 would fill that for sure but the new 550 is plenty snappy too, but of course with a fat "new" price tag. For long term, the price seems to matter a little less though - unless a naturally aspirated G63 comes out next or before ending the line.

My plans for any G would include:
1-at least the above mentioned bfg at ko 31.7" dia tires, as I have a set of 5 new ones already and the chains that fit them.
2-dual battery system, not sure where but engine bay looks to have space with maybe coolant overflow moved to driver side freeing up large enough space for at least an optima yellow. Mainly to run ARB fridge that I love for camping and also for work/camp lamps sometimes. But mainly as backup battery if primary is ever dead.
3-rack as mentioned
4-winch pin type front bumper swap, with a couple things relocated as needed.
5-on board air, I like having an arb compressor. rovers have had a tank and gauge and line out but simply portable at least is a must have to accompany the tire repair kit.
6-jerry can holders - on the top rack if necessary for fuel range and water
7-**somehow to mount a hitch type bike rack without using the hitch - not solved yet. Brilliantly solved on lr3 - works so well it's almost enough to keep it!
8-easy seat removal - 2nd row seats will likely be in the G only 1/2 time because the cargo area is too valuable when setting up a sleep level above the gear. (My "gear" is more than many peoples with bringing mtn bikes and photo equipment.)

Separately, I will mostly use it for location commercial photography work too which requires hauling around ~600 lbs of stuff plus ladders. The work vehicle and travel vehicle has to be dependable, safe, not too shabby (I'm concerned about the opposite of shabby with a G though and having too much "image" in front of clients - at least with all the crap on it my rovers never looked too "showy" but rather appropriate instead even when new)

Work trips range from in town to one long-day drives. I want to go safe, fast as legally possible...without tickets, and relatively comfortably so I'm not beat upon arrival. For some trips, mainly not work, sleeping inside above camping gear is a must.

All in all, I really like the G, especially the newer ones, maybe it's just the tightness of the steering handling and the smooth power because I also "liked" the 2003 G500 but it felt a little pokey, like the 04 disco, fine but just not quick. Reliability is important though and I know that sometimes that means less electronics so less can go wrong. This is why I looked to the G in the first place, the springs are likely to never collapse like an air suspension or other techno wizardry on the newest land rovers.
 

Indiana Drew

Observer
I'm sure most of what you seek in custom additions are available. Try G-Wagen Accessories.com. As far as your feeling that an '03 G500 felt poky, well that seems surprising to me. I would describe my 1980 280GE as a bit poky getting on to the hwy and overtaking. I have had my '02 G500 since new and never felt it was underpowered. Having had an ML320, LR Disc and a RR in succession since 1990, the G500 does not feel like any of them to me. To each his own though. I have not driven either of my Gs at higher elevations, so I can't say how much thin air takes a toll on the G500. Good luck with your search for a suitable G.
 

Scott Brady

Founder
With the amount of highway driving you will be doing, ice covered roads, etc., I would recommend keeping the vehicle relatively stock. My G is entirely stock, and has yet to disappoint in any reasonable terrain. At the most, a 1-2" spring lift and a 32-33" tire for your uses. That will retain most of the highway comfort and safety.

For my G, we will eventually fit 1.5" taller springs and 255/85 R16 tires. That is the beauty of the G-Wagen, they just really do not need much...
 

Indiana Drew

Observer
With the amount of highway driving you will be doing, ice covered roads, etc., I would recommend keeping the vehicle relatively stock. My G is entirely stock, and has yet to disappoint in any reasonable terrain. At the most, a 1-2" spring lift and a 32-33" tire for your uses. That will retain most of the highway comfort and safety.

For my G, we will eventually fit 1.5" taller springs and 255/85 R16 tires. That is the beauty of the G-Wagen, they just really do not need much...
As Scott indicates the lift issue is generally not an issue for most. My G500 is stock - I would probably do a slight lift of 1" - 1.5" to fit a taller tire. That can be done without causing a need for a pinion gear change. My 280GE has a 3" lift and came over from Europe with 32" tires on it. I will likely go to 34" or 35" when I have the money to change the pinion gears and the 280 is no longer a DD.

Scott - what year is your G?
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
Thanks to both of you. I agree on mostly stock but just with the short spring lift like I have on my 04 disco. It actually handles better after that change. Even without spring lift the G will fit the 32-33 fine it appears so that's nice too.

As for "poky" I think it may be more that I am used to something quicker now and don't want to go backwards simply for the enjoyment factor which I try to justify in terms of "safer passing" or more comfortable towing. The new 550 is really quite quick though, and incredibly smooth due to the 7spdd transmission - I've heard the older 5spd tranny is either more reliable or maybe more durable due to being designed to deal with the power of the G55... is it BS or maybe true - at least from a reliability stance?

Scott, you mention on the G page that less electronics is important. I assume one has to go back quite far to find one with less than any of them since 2002,2004, etc.? I am hoping that even the newest ones are not too dependent on gizmos to at least run, or at least no more than my disco, although I know the 96 disco is simpler than the 04.

Do either of you know how well they are breather tubed for wading, for real? The specs say 24" or so, which is not too high but pretty good. Are there any simple things to increase that? (not talking snorkle, because that wouldn't address electronics or other bits water would hurt)
 

Fernweh

Supporting Sponsor
Jim,

you must realize that the newer vehicles like a G550 have a ton of electronics - just not only to run but for all the stuff they are outfitted with. Why do you think the G550 with its seven speed transmission feels so powerful - there are multiple computers running the show to the smallest detail, and everything feels just perfect.

Just open the door and listen for all those little ECU's to wake up and getting ready for the big boss to turn the key.

18" or 24" not enough for wading or fording? Where do you want to go? Have you ever looked under the front seat of a G55 or G550? Do you know where the battery is located - below the floor level? These places are stashed full of electronics.

These trucks are built to last, but the driver owner needs to know how to take care of them and how to drive them especial in deserted far away places, to get back safe and sound.

I always love to see those pictures where people have dug deep holes, filled them with water and are elated to d(r)ive through them with their fancy outfitted SUV.

Just to make a point - I have included a screen shot from my Star Diagnostic system to show the few ECU's from my "old" 2004 G500 - now think 2009 G550:sombrero:

Please notice this are only the ECU's with a fault code - not all of them!

Karl

 

Indiana Drew

Observer
Hey Karl - glad I can't see my ECU faults on the '02.

Jim - I can't disagree with Karl's points, but we have both been on the same forums and driving Gs for a while. I have had a '97 Disc I which followed a 1990 RR. It was my least reliable vehicle to date. IMHO the G is the finest stock truck out there. To be remotely fare, I have done some off roading in '06 RRs. I feel formost that the driver makes the vehicle, not the opposite. If you have gotten into the kind of places that you like in the LRs, then you will be at least as happy in a G. I would keep in mind that the approch to off roading in a G with full lockers is going to be a bit different then the LR.

If you want to go really deep in water, get a really old G ...
 

ChuckB

Expedition Leader
I have been lurking on all the G forums lately and have a question for those of you who own the 2002+ G's. Hopefully the ?'s are along the same lines as what Jwest is searching for (if not feel free to move to new thread).

Given that fact that there are obviously a lot of electronics involved, would you hesitate to take one out into the boonies, given regular maintenance, and over 100K miles on the odometer? I know it really comes down to how you personally maintain your own vehicle and how comfortable you might be with field repairs. The electronics are the only area that concern me with these vehicles. Do you except these modern G's to have above average electrical issues as they age? I'm trying to convince myself that a G-wagen will be as reliable in the long-run as a 200-series LC, RR, LR etc, given the same model years most likely have comparable electronics onboard.
Can you give us a good idea of what special ecu's and sensors it might be beneficial to carry in a worst case scenario?

I know the easiest solution is to buy an older G and eliminate as many electronics as possible, but safety of children and daily driver status are a big concern. Therefore the newer G's are more attractive.

I'm primarily interested in the 2004-2008 G500 if that helps. Hope I'm not hijacking!!

I think think these vehicles are amazing and want to learn more about them.
TIA.
 
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Indiana Drew

Observer
ChuckB - seen some of your questions on another forum, but can't recall what others (or I) might have offered you over there ... From a safety, including child, point of view I have not felt less safe in the 1980 truck than in the '02. Non the less there are plenty of safety innovations in the more modern trucks than in even the '02s.

Though there are no guarantees, in almost 100,000 miles since Jan '02, I have only had one completely catastrophic failure which stemmed from the voltage regulator/alternator. I did have plenty of warning though, at least an 1 hr or hwy driving before the battery died and so the truck too ... I believe that searching the archives of the forums will reveal ever problem that might occur. I would not be concerned about taking either of my trucks on the road or off with proper maintenance. Though I have driven places alone over the years that would have sucked to get stuck in, as I get older, planning better and planning to go with others makes better sense.

No matter the quality of the vehicle, non have the capacity to deter fool hardiness forever ...
 

ChuckB

Expedition Leader
Indiana Drew,

I know what you mean, I was completely happy in my FJ60. Part of me would like to get another one.

I'm not totally opposed to the older G's, but it seems like that is going to a bit of a problem for me as I'm soon going to be residing in CA again. It appears from my research that most of the older G's are 49 state legal. I know there are plenty registered though. But, I digress from Jwest's original post.

I'm glad to here that your happy with your 2002. Thank you for your insight.
 

Indiana Drew

Observer
Indiana Drew,

I know what you mean, I was completely happy in my FJ60. Part of me would like to get another one.

I'm not totally opposed to the older G's, but it seems like that is going to a bit of a problem for me as I'm soon going to be residing in CA again. It appears from my research that most of the older G's are 49 state legal. I know there are plenty registered though. But, I digress from Jwest's original post.

I'm glad to here that your happy with your 2002. Thank you for your insight.
I am equally happy with my 1980 truck ... But both have advantages - good searching no matter your selection ...
 
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