pros/cons? G55 2003-2004 vs G55K 2005+ vs non 55

Jwestpro

Explorer
I've been solidly a Land Rover person for almost 400,000 miles/10 years.

My first "travel" vehicle (and first suv) was a 1996 Discovery bought used in 2000. It was great when I knew nothing of the other options out in the world because it was simply the best thing to me, I was happy. Over 200,000 miles later, I desired more space, more modern comforts, something more "cool". I got bit by the gizmo wizardry of air suspensions, auto windows, flat load floor folding seating, icons for driving terrain conditions, etc.

Now, I realize the inherent merits of having a few less wizardry and linked electronics (i.e., an air suspension that might sense a height issue and limit your power or height for "your own safety") Aside from the fact that my LR3 has a couple nearly insurmountable limits such as tire size (biggest size is 31.5" without serious modifications or trade-offs in safety and/or reliability), it rarely feels like "the right" vehicle. I want safety, reliability, capability, comfort and fun.

A modern version of the Discovery would work, but the closest thing I can see in that vein is the G Wagen. Now, that's not a bad thing, they just cost so damn much (remember, I like the modern crap, the sweet newer seats, heated windscreen, traction control/safety, air bags, etc.)

I know G500's are the "value" direction, but I like what I've read about the 55's in that the transmission and some other items are built better (?). I also like the AMG fender flares, but you could swap those onto any 463 G. I would bet you could also easily have the heated windscreen and controls installed, in addition to a reverse camera, etc, etc.

That all leaves me with handbuilt AMG powered '05+ G55K (supercharged) with nearly 500hp for ~$50k or an '03-'04 G55 naturally aspirated but still AMG built.

I realize AMG brakes will cost more but there are sources for pads n rotors and I don't mind the additional stopping power as most trips involve 1000's of highway miles too.

A MB tech mentioned the potential problems of running a supercharged model in very extreme conditions, deep water, -40 temps, etc, so I was wondering if the non K version of the G55 would be the best of both: hand built but naturally aspirated.

My goad is not to build out an expedition only vehicle that isn't also nice for family travels (comfortable, safe, etc)

I have bought too many vehicles over the years only to learn more later and realize I should have researched more first.

So, this time I'm taking quite a while and saving up while also allowing depreciation to continue in my favor.

I basically own the LR3 which I bought new. I then spent $25,000 on parts and labor to make it into what it is. If I want a steel spring suspension, that option is becoming a near future option but it still won't really allow the clearance I could get with 33-34" tires on a G.
 

otiswesty

Regular guy
You make a good point about the build quality of the AMG motors. It may be that the early G55 with the naturally aspirated motors are the best built and therefore have the most intrinsic reliability. The transmission in the G55 and G55K is the 5 speed electronic automatic that is also in the G500. Later models of the G500/550 utilized a 7 speed transmission to acheive better fuel economy, but are considered to be less robust than the 5 speed and are therfore not mated to the 500HP G55K. The down side of the G55 is the buckboard suspension. I have a friend who bought one in 2003 and simply hated the ride quality. After a broken window regulator and the glove box handle falling off he got rid of it 18 months into it. Substituting a G500 spring and shock set fixes the ride quality issue. Another example of the early models getting a bad reputation for something that is easily solved now.
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
I hope you get a G Jwest. It'd be great to have yet another G owner in the (G-Mecca)PacNW. :)

PS--Despite all my power-related complaints lately, having owned an '03 E55 (M113K), I can't imagine that much power in a G. Actually, it'd probably be pretty damn fun w/ full time 4wd and since the G is so heavy. With just RWD, wet streets were not friendly.
 

autonovice

New member
The G55K has a bigger torque converter so the tranny housing is slight bigger.
The G55K also has tons of coolers, i think is was 8 or 9, so there is no room for any
else in the engine compartment and inner fenders. G55K brakes are 17in (ATE) where
as G55 is same as G500 (16in). All round rotors and pads cost me 1K.

G55K also has different diffs than G500. I am not sure of G55. The power and torque are amazing on the G55K. Towing wont be any issues.

G55K has an 75A electric fan. G500 has clutched fan. I am not sure of the G55. Water fording may be an issue here for the G55K
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
The G55K has a bigger torque converter so the tranny housing is slight bigger.
The G55K also has tons of coolers, i think is was 8 or 9, so there is no room for any
else in the engine compartment and inner fenders. G55K brakes are 17in (ATE) where
as G55 is same as G500 (16in). All round rotors and pads cost me 1K.

G55K also has different diffs than G500. I am not sure of G55. The power and torque are amazing on the G55K. Towing wont be any issues.

G55K has an 75A electric fan. G500 has clutched fan. I am not sure of the G55. Water fording may be an issue here for the G55K
17" front rotors for a G55K? Do you mean wheel diameter?
I show that '02-05 G600 and '03-05 G55 front rotors are 12.5" in diameter. Haven't been able to clarify dia on '06+ G500/G55/G55K yet.
 

autonovice

New member
put it this way ... the wheels are 18in. the front rotors barely fit in the wheels. May be it is 16in but for sure, not less than that.
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
From looking at 05 g55k through 2010, I was under the impression the front rotors were the same on all g55k.

Regardless, I'd be fine with an 18" rim minimum seeing as the G design allows for pretty big tires even on stock springs, spacers or taller springs increase that to a range where I wouldn't go any time soon due to decreasing highway handling once it gets too tall.

Long, long term, I also like the fact that it could have portal axles installed. My only concern really is the interior size being smaller than I am currently accustomed to having. Had I gone directly from the Discovery I, then I wouldn't really care so much.

The LR3 has considerably more space lengthwise and is taller inside when seats are removed. The G is wider in the cargo area though so I have not done a careful total volume comparison, just practical measurements.

I'm going to wait for just the right deal though, I can't stomach another serious loss from moving between vehicles.

My 96 Disco I had little power, but I never really thought about it back then over it's 200,000+ miles so I'm not sure why I'm now obsessed with the G55 models but maybe it's because after driving one I want more and justify it by saying passing is "safer" and towing is "easier", etc. I won't say braking because you could ad bigger brakes to a g500.
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
The G55K has a bigger torque converter so the tranny housing is slight bigger.
The G55K also has tons of coolers, i think is was 8 or 9, so there is no room for any
else in the engine compartment and inner fenders. G55K brakes are 17in (ATE) where
as G55 is same as G500 (16in). All round rotors and pads cost me 1K.

G55K also has different diffs than G500. I am not sure of G55. The power and torque are amazing on the G55K. Towing wont be any issues.

G55K has an 75A electric fan. G500 has clutched fan. I am not sure of the G55. Water fording may be an issue here for the G55K
I don't know enough about some of those things to know if they are A. correct ;), or B. how they would matter :

Does it matter how large the torque converter is? I'd assume the g55 being "stronger"

I would assume "tons of coolers" is either more things to maintain/fail and the used up space takes away from things like dual battery, air compressor, etc.

I'm not worried about cost to replace brake pads or rotors, I'm easy on brakes so they last a long time, 50,000 in my 8000lb lr3 for example 35,000 miles in the Audi including a track day.

Are the diffs really any different? g500 vs g55 vs g55k vs g550

On the fan, I assume you mean the main engine fan of course, clutched being engine driven? elec being separate? one being better than the other for what reasons? water, maybe the elec fan would be unhappy submerged?

I don't "plan" to submerge, but you don't don't build up something this far, like I did on the lr3, and not have provisions for the high water event, etc.
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
I also have to consider costs. Costs of all sorts but mainly the big ticket items like the purchase price vs cost of just keeping what I have. What I have, the lr3, is limited in many ways and has some inherent risks such as it's air suspension and extensive electronics and computers all communicating via fiber optic.

Part of this quest is to go with a 4x4 that I can just simply use for the next 200,000-400,000 miles without too many worries. I suppose there is a simplicity I like about the G models vs this LR3 even if it's just the suspension and solid axle design with nice big ball-swivels, etc.

Toss on a layer of "they are so cool and straight forward" and I was sold the first time I looked into one. Too bad it was after having spent $55,000 usd on a new 07 lr3, then adding $25,000 in parts and labor....only to have it worth about $30k now :(

So, part of the attraction to 03-04 G55 is the market price right now. I've also thought I could simply use my 2004 Discovery and slot something else into it's place to be the work only vehicle on the east coast. Maybe it's smartest to just sit tight for now, and make due with the two land rovers. In the mean time the G's only depreciate more - and that's a plus.

I just want to learn as much as possible though so that that when the right one pops up, I don't miss out.
 

4x4abc

Adventurer
the amount of depreciation on the G55 will be about equal to the money you need to spend to upkeep the LR(s)
 

autonovice

New member
My 05 g55k is currently designated as my mall cruiser.
I got it new so I grinch if I take it offroad or do any mods to it.
It is due for a new set of tires. I am thinking of putting
red front / brown rear springs along w Koni shocks and new set
of tires. I am tired of bumpy rides. Mario on p3 forum got this
config on his 05 G55K and he seems happy with the rides

If you want to mod out your G, I would get something from
91 to 96 G. Less electronics and you can install a diesel engine
which is a preferred choice.

Oh ... I got a g55k fan but installation will required mods
the hood (double hinges on the G55K models VS single hinge on
others) and a front top cross member. You need a 80A
variable speed and multiple inputs fan controller. I found one but
haven't test it yet.
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
From looking at 05 g55k through 2010, I was under the impression the front rotors were the same on all g55k.

Regardless, I'd be fine with an 18" rim minimum seeing as the G design allows for pretty big tires even on stock springs, spacers or taller springs increase that to a range where I wouldn't go any time soon due to decreasing highway handling once it gets too tall.

Long, long term, I also like the fact that it could have portal axles installed. My only concern really is the interior size being smaller than I am currently accustomed to having. Had I gone directly from the Discovery I, then I wouldn't really care so much.

The LR3 has considerably more space lengthwise and is taller inside when seats are removed. The G is wider in the cargo area though so I have not done a careful total volume comparison, just practical measurements.

I'm going to wait for just the right deal though, I can't stomach another serious loss from moving between vehicles.

My 96 Disco I had little power, but I never really thought about it back then over it's 200,000+ miles so I'm not sure why I'm now obsessed with the G55 models but maybe it's because after driving one I want more and justify it by saying passing is "safer" and towing is "easier", etc. I won't say braking because you could ad bigger brakes to a g500.
Hey Jwest,

Courtesy of cars.com ('07 LR3 on left, '05 G55 on right);

Wheelbase 113.6 " 112.2 "
Front track 63.2 " 58.1 "
Rear track 63.5 " 58.1 "
Turning radius 18.8 ' 21.7 '
Ground clearance 9.5 " N/A
Front legroom 42.4 " 52.5 "
Rear legroom 37.6 " 41.9 "
Third row legroom 36.3 " N/A
Front headroom 40.4 " 42.2 "
Rear headroom 42.4 " 40.0 "
Third row headroom 40.1 " N/A
Front hiproom N/A 51.5 "
Rear hiproom N/A 53.9 "
Front shoulder room 59.2 " 53.7 "
Rear shoulder room 59.4 " 56.3 "
Third row shoulder room 42.8 " N/A
Luggage volume 9.9 cu.ft. 45.2 cu.ft.
Luggage volume (max) 90.3 cu.ft. 79.5 cu.ft.
Passenger volume N/A 89 cu.ft.
Fuel tank 22.8 gal. 25.4 gal.

PS--Mmm, portals. :sombrero:

-Jeremy from Audizine
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
I also have to consider costs. Costs of all sorts but mainly the big ticket items like the purchase price vs cost of just keeping what I have. What I have, the lr3, is limited in many ways and has some inherent risks such as it's air suspension and extensive electronics and computers all communicating via fiber optic.

Part of this quest is to go with a 4x4 that I can just simply use for the next 200,000-400,000 miles without too many worries. I suppose there is a simplicity I like about the G models vs this LR3 even if it's just the suspension and solid axle design with nice big ball-swivels, etc.

Toss on a layer of "they are so cool and straight forward" and I was sold the first time I looked into one. Too bad it was after having spent $55,000 usd on a new 07 lr3, then adding $25,000 in parts and labor....only to have it worth about $30k now :(

So, part of the attraction to 03-04 G55 is the market price right now. I've also thought I could simply use my 2004 Discovery and slot something else into it's place to be the work only vehicle on the east coast. Maybe it's smartest to just sit tight for now, and make due with the two land rovers. In the mean time the G's only depreciate more - and that's a plus.

I just want to learn as much as possible though so that that when the right one pops up, I don't miss out.
Ok, so what are the pros/cons you see so far with a G500 vs G55 vs G55K? Do you need the G55K power (yeah, it'd be cool, but a s/c is just another added potential "cost" if it needs attention--not that it probably will as they're pretty damn robust but still, it could)? What about looking at the G500 vs G55(non-K)? Pros/cons based on their current used prices? (either engine will be near bulletproof, AMG-based components are usually more money to purchase when they need replacing)
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
I think maybe I'm being a little silly whining so much about the 55. It's probably not "necessary" at all unless it's somehow built "better". I do like the symmetry of the dual exhaust though.

I think the reason I initially figured we'd go with a 55 at some point was due to making it "the" travel vehicle rather than just a toy for me. Basically having a "nice" suv for all around that doubles as an overland/camping 4x4.

We should go check out some 500's. Maybe we can see a cool red one in Portland? ;)
 

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