New Benz M-Class SUVs: Classy Trail Cars

Mercedes-Benz ML350 4MATIC, front

The old M-Class has been around for 13 years and always seemed boxy and too truck-like for Mercedes-Benz. The new version has redesigned most everything and rectified these faults.

It’s the car I want (and can’t afford) for traveling over and through Mexican potholes and speed bumps, driving the autopistas (tollways), and the many all-too-common dirt roads. Yeah, I’d settle for the B-Class, but this car has much more class.

The price holds to last year’s: The standard ML350 4Matic AWD costs $49,865. Power source is a 3.5-liter V6 with 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. But, for only $1,500 more, you can get the BlueTec 3-liter turbodiesel, which will perform just as well (240 hp, 455 lb-ft of torque) and give better fuel economy (20/25 mpg).

Steering, braking, roadholding, off-road capability—all are first class. And, of course, Bluetooth and all the electro-goodies come standard, plus options like heated and cooled cupholders and an adjustable air suspension. There’s an alert system (standard) called Attention Assist to help wake up drowsy drivers.

Benz is making these cars in its Tuscaloosa, Ala., plant, and you can buy them starting in September. “Quiet and refined,” the diesel comes into its own at freeway speeds, with “confident” passing power, punchy response, and a great 7-speed automatic transmission, says Motor Trend, that shifts correctly and can be controlled with paddles.

2012 Mercedes-Benz  ML350 4MATIC, cockpitInside, the M-Class cabin is

comfortable, welcoming, and upscale. While the exterior is clearly a more aggressive yet graceful evolution, the interior goes in a somewhat new direction, adopting the gently sculpted lines and swooping curves of Mercedes’ sedan instrument panels and complements the look with a ‘power dome’ center stack.

Some commenters here (scroll down) thought the new Jeep Grand Cherokee would be the better choice among the competition. Let’s just say these guys have lost their marbles.

The Grand Cherokee SRT8 starts at $55,295. Which car would you rather have?

—jgoods

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Used Mercedes-Benz M-Class
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2 Comments

  1. Honest, $55K for the Jeep? No contest, the Mercedes. Grand Cherokee’s are a dime a dozen around here (I’m just down the road from Chrysler headquarters) and nobody looks twice at one. I wonder what the comparison is to the big Lexus SUV?

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