The success of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV comes as no surprise. Signature luxury, all weather, all-terrain prowess and constantly evolving technology have made the M-Class a winner ever since its introduction, each iteration better than the last, which describes the all-new 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class. It’s the best M-Class so far, which means it’s one of the best luxury SUVs, period.
Three Distinct Flavors
There’s a 2012 M-Class to appeal to every type of driver from the fuel-conscious to the performance-minded. All are equipped with 4MATIC™ intelligent all-wheel drive and seven-speed transmissions.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4MATIC
The M-Class range starts here with the ML350 (MSRP starting at $48,990). Powered by a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 making a solid 302 hp and 273 lb/ft of torque, the ML350 runs from zero-to-60 mph in 7.3 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph. Even with its standard 4MATIC AWD and impressive oomph underhood, the ML350 still turns in EPA fuel economy estimates of 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
Blue Means Green: The 2012 ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC
Drivers seeking even better efficiency need look no further than the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC. The BlueTEC moniker indicates that a diesel engine is nestled underhood, and it impresses on all fronts. This turbocharged, intercooled 3.0-liter V6 churns out 240 hp and a positively brawny 455 lb/ft of torque. The added bonus? The BlueTEC is the most efficient M-Class on offer, producing impressive EPA fuel economy estimates of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. It’s also as quick to 60 mph as the gasoline-powered ML350 with the same top speed.
The ultimate performance SUV: The 2012 ML63 AMG (Coming Soon)
When you see an AMG badge affixed to a Mercedes-Benz, you know you’re looking at one of the world’s most powerful and dynamic performance vehicles. The 2012 ML63 AMG is no exception. Its hand-built, direct-injected, twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 unleashes 518 hp and 516 lb/ft – and that’s in standard trim. With the available AMG Performance Package, the numbers jump to 550 hp and 560 lb/ft. As you’d surmise, the ML63 AMG is fast: In standard trim, 4.7 seconds from a standstill to 60 and a top speed of 155 mph. The Performance Package shaves a tenth of a second off the zero-to-60 time and increases top speed to 174 mph. The ML63 AMG also gets an AMG AIRMATIC air suspension and the Active Curve System, which works to minimize body roll when cornering, as standard equipment (they’re optional on standard M-Class models). Not shabby for a ride that also happens to have a very Home Depot-friendly 71 cubic feet of cargo room with the second-row seats folded.
The 2012 M-Class SUV isn’t just about great all-around performance. The experience for the driver and passengers has to be comfortable and memorable, too. To that end, all M-Class models include a power sunroof, heated front seats (heated and ventilated in the AMG), Bluetooth hands-free system, Voice Control, a seven-inch central information display with the Mercedes-Benz signature COMAND user interface and a 100-watt, eight-speaker audio system with CD changer, 10GB of onboard music storage, an SD card slot and a USB port. One M-Class party trick is that it has a pair of FM antennas (one in the rear window, one in the rear spoiler); the radio will use whichever one has the stronger signal.
Of course, the available equipment list goes a lot deeper. Two Premium Packages include desirable features like a rear-view camera, hard-drive Navigation System with SiriusXM Traffic and Weather, a full iPod interface, KEYLESS-GO and a 14-speaker, 830-watt harman/kardon LOGIC7 surround-sound audio system with Dolby Digital 5.1. Drivers can also upgrade to full leather seating with Burl Walnut trim. Features like a rear entertainment system and PARKTRONIC with Active Parking Assist are also among the myriad available add-ons.
The Dynamic Handling Package upgrades the M-Class to 20-inch wheels and adds Adaptive Damping, AIRMATIC air suspension and the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM. A Lighting Package includes Bi-Xenon headlamps with curve illumination, cornering lamps, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, (which automatically dims the high beams when oncoming traffic is detected) and a headlamp cleaning system. Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are also available, and they can be upgraded so that in addition to alerting the driver, the systems can call upon the car to make corrections on the driver’s behalf by using ESP along with DISTRONIC PLUS with PRE-SAFE Brake. That system uses the Adaptive Cruise Control system to track distance between the M-Class and the vehicle ahead. If the distance suddenly closes and an imminent collision is detected, PRE-SAFE Brake can automatically apply full braking power if the driver doesn’t react.
With nine airbags providing 11-way protection, plus Anti-lock Brakes and Electronic Stability Program included in all M-Class models, the M-Class is extremely safe. But Mercedes-Benz doesn’t stop with those. ATTENTION ASSIST is also standard, and it will recommend you take a breather from driving if it detects driving behavior that suggests you’re getting drowsy at the wheel. Mercedes-Benz mbrace, the standard telematics system, lets drivers call for emergency help, roadside assistance or ask for information at the touch of a button. In the event of an accident, an mbrace specialist will summon emergency services, provide them with the car’s location and help guide them to it if necessary. The mbrace system also comes in handy for every day needs. For instance, it lets drivers find a location on Google Maps and then send the driving directions right to the car. There’s even an available concierge service that can help assist with travel reservations, dinner plans or even the purchase of concert tickets.
A winner on all fronts
With a broad spectrum of powertrains, outstanding features and undeniable all-weather utility, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class once again establishes itself as the go-to choice for luxury sport-utility shoppers. Classy and capable, it’s better than ever.