The Mercedes M class is one of the older entries in the midsize luxury SUV segment. What is now a terribly competitive segment was so in 1994 when the M class was introduced. It rode on the same general truck like platform for 12 years. By the time a full refresh came in 2006, the M was showing its age. This combined with the change in the segment over that same time period, specifically that there were so many newer, stronger competitors by 2006. Its refresh was extensive. Moving to unibody construction was a major improvement in many areas. A new, higher quality interior is also noteworthy.
All M class trim levels come with full time four wheel drive, except for the ML350 which is a rear wheel drive only model. The ML350 Bluetec has a 3.0 liter turbo diesel engine which makes 210 Hp. The ML350 is powered by a 268 HP, 3.5 liter V-6. The ML450 is a hybrid design delivering 275 HP. The ML550 ups the ante to 382 HP from its 5.5 liter V-8 engine. The top end engine for the M class is found in the ML63 AMG, at 6.2 liters, this V-8 generates 503 HP. The entire line shares a 7 speed automatic, except for the hybrid.
Engines: 3.0L V-6, 3.5L V-6, 3.5L V-6 w/ two electric motors, 5.5L V-8, 6.2L V-8
Transmissions: 7-speed automatic, continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Models: ML350 BlueTEC 4Matic, ML350 4Matic, ML450 Hybrid, ML550 4Matic, ML63 AMG
The newest model, the hybrid, uses a 275-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and two electric motors, with a fuel economy of 21 mpg city/24 mpg highway. The M-Class is available with a new paint color, Diamond White Metallic, new LED daytime running lights are available, side mirrors were redesigned, rearview mirror now includes a compass, and blind spot assist and rearview camera are available.
The M-Clas has more creases and curves than the rest of the company's SUV lineup. Its lines are not as sporty as those of the hot-rod Infiniti FX, but flashier than the Lexus RX.
Power front seats, power tilt sunroof, DVD video/audio, 6.5-inch COMAND screen, and Bluetooth are standard on all M-Class models. Heated front and rear seats, three-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, and rear-seat entertainment are available.
Performance & Handling
The diesel, which puts out 400 pound-feet of torque, gets the ML350 BlueTEC to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. The ML350 got to that same speed in 7.7 seconds. It's also offered with adjustable shocks and air suspension. The M-Class feels solid, predictable, and consistent on the road, yet it's not a vehicle that creates all that exhilarating a driving experience.
Eight airbags -- including dual front, window curtain, and rear side -- are standard, as is the Pre-Safe system, stability control with trailer stability assist, traction control, rollover sensors, and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake assist.
EPA Fuel Economy
ML350: 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway
ML350 4Matic: 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway
ML350 BlueTEC 4Matic: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway
ML450 Hybrid: 21 mpg city/24 mpg highway
ML550 4Matic: 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway
ML63: 10 mpg city/14 mpg highway
- Variety of engines
- Good mileage in diesel and hybrid
- Solid feel, build quality
You Won't Like
- Confusing cabin controls
- Capable, but not exciting
- Lack of off-road ability
Solid SUV ready for a restyle
If You Like This Vehicle
- BMW X5
- Lexus RX
- Infiniti FX