There are vehicle with sport and utility, for sure, but very few that manage to wrap sport, utility and world-class luxury together in a single model. Mercedes-Benz has always set the benchmark for the rest of the automotive world in any class it chooses to compete, and the M-Class has a history of showing the world how it's done. The M-Class isn't just three perfectly-blended elements, either; it's got the full weight of Mercedes-Benz technology, innovation, build quality and performance behind it.
It begins with the 2012 ML350 SUV (MSRP $48,990). Powered by a brand-new 302 hp 3.5 liter V6 that's paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission, the ML350 also features standard paddle shifters, 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and an AGILITY CONTROL suspension that automatically adjusts shock absorber valving to deliver a comfortable ride without compromising body control during maneuvering. Standard Eucalyptus wood trim is paired with the classically durable MB-
Tex upholstery for long-lasting good looks, and the interior bristles with standard features. A dual-zone climate control system filters incoming air, and heated, power-adjustable front seats are also standard. A power-operated liftgate is also standard, adding convenience, and the COMAND system uses a large seven-inch LCD and central controller for access to many vehicle functions.
The 2012 ML350 BlueTEC (MSRP $50,490) adds the classic efficiency and durability of Mercedes-Benz diesel to the M-Class. The 3.0 liter turbodiesel V6 is rated at 240 hp and delivers the mother lode of 455 lb/ft of torque. Only the bi-turbo ML63 AMG has more pulling power. Like all M-Class models, the ML350 BlueTEC carries a seven-speed automatic, 4MATIC, and AGILITY CONTROL suspension. The optional 7,200 pound Class III trailer hitch is a perfect match for this engine's grunt, and standard Trailer Stability Assist keeps sway in check. Just like the gas-powered ML350, the BlueTEC rides on 19-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels and features LED running lights and taillamps, brushed aluminum roof rails. You give up nothing in performance by choosing the diesel, either. The ML350 BlueTEC clicks off the same swift 7.3 second run to 60 mph that the gasoline ML350 does - fleet times for even a sedan, let alone a premium luxury SUV.
The 2012 ML550 (MSRP $57,590) stirs the pot with another 100 hp over the ML350. The 4.6 liter twin-turbo V8 whips up 402 hp and 443 lb/ft of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph drops to 5.3 seconds, and standard equipment is bolstered. With more power on tap, the ML550 is very confident when towing. AMG five-spoke 19-inch wheels are standard, too, along with brushed-aluminum running boards, burl walnut trim, and a premium leather four spoke steering wheel. Safety is well looked after on every M-Class model, which all feature the Mercedes-Benz ATTENTION ASSIST driver-drowsiness monitor, 11-way airbag protection, the PRE-SAFE® system that can anticipate a collision and prepare the vehicle to best protect the occupants and the POST-SAFE® system that continues to enhance passenger safety even after a crash has occurred by shutting off the engine and fuel pumps, unlocking the doors, activating interior lights and hazard flashers, and powering the steering column upward to make exiting easier.
The 2012 ML63 AMG (MSRP $94,990) positively bristles with power and performance. A 5.5 liter bi-turbo V8 sings a rousing tune as it makes 518 hp and a widely-distributed 516 lb/ft of torque. Specific front fenders and body accents set the ML63 off, and the purposeful enlarged air intakes in the front fascia enable the deep breathing engine, and 20-inch AMG wheels stick the ML63 AMG confidently to the road. At night, standard adaptive Bi-Xenon headlamps light the way, and an AMG braking system converts speed to heat in short order. Lest you think the ML63 AMG is all about what's under the hood, there's plenty of attention paid to the inside, too. AMG sport seats in standard designo leather are complemented by wood trim in Brown Satin Ash, Anthracite Poplar, or Burl Walnut. designo Piano Black Lacquer wood trim is also available as an option. The standard harman/kardon LOGIC7® Surround Sound audio system is known the world over as a standard bearer for in-car high fidelity, and it doesn't disappoint in the ML63 AMG. A rear-seat entertainment system can be added, to keep everyone as entertained as the driver, who sits behind the controls of a comfortable, classy SUV capable of scorching the doors off many high-performance cars with its ability to reel in 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds.
Just as an SUV by its very nature covers a wide base of needs, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class has a little something for everyone. There’s all the standard comfort and quality, plus powertrain options to serve up efficiency, speed, and out-and-out sport. It's one of the few Sport Utility Vehicles that actually lives up to the name.