With an imposing presence and impressive tech, the Unimog U500 is the do-everything workhorse, even if it isn’t perfect.
This probably won’t come as much of a surprise to Mercedes enthusiasts, but the Unimog U500 is seriously cool. Doug DeMuro had never driven one though so you can only imagine his excitement at the opportunity. Quirks and features are plentiful on the Unimog U500, as evidenced by the nearly 40 minute long video.
DeMuro starts with the obvious. The Unimog U500 is huge. It’s a Doka crew cab, but apparently started life as a single cab and was later converted to add a row of 4 seats behind the three seats up front. And as you can surmise, these things are road legal, though you don’t need a commercial driver’s license to operate one. DeMuro opines, “you don’t need one of those licenses, but you probably should have one given how massive this is.”
On the subject of the driving experience, one of the more unique things about the Unimog U500 is the transmission. It’s a manual, but not in the traditional sense. Technically you call it a pre-selector transmission. “You can’t pop the clutch, and you can’t miss a shift. But it takes a little getting used to,” Demuro notes. And you have to be pretty quick with shifts, too. It must be done sequentially, and it’s possible to reach 6th gear my as low as 20 miles per hour. The driveline as expected also contains locking differentials for all of your offroad needs. This is additionally supported by the central inflation system for the tires to raise and lower PSI at the flip of a switch.
A truck like this can’t exist without a little bit of wackiness. We find that at the back. It wouldn’t be the ultimate truck unless you had an articulated truck bed. “That’s right, this Unimog is a dump truck!,” DeMuro excitedly explains. It can tilt back, or side to side depending on how you have the hinges configured. But in the way, you have a set of roll bars with a monster full size spare. So the truck bed is great, apart from the fact that you can’t fully utilize it. But that’s not the point of buying a Unimog U500. You buy it because you can!
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