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Best Bets get average or better mpg, have average or better reliability, good crash-test ratings, and our experts' recommendations.
By Cars.com Staff
August 20, 2009
Vehicle Overview Mercedes' midsize M-Class SUV was significantly redesigned last year with exterior and interior styling changes, slight efficiency boosts, new and upgraded features and one of the first diesel models clean enough to be sold in all 50 states. The evolution of the M-Class continues for 2010 with the introduction of a hybrid model. Competitors include the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Land Rover LR4.
Exterior Almost all the exterior changes for 2009 made the M-Class look lower and broader. The grille was lower and the fog lights were farther apart, for example. The stainless-steel skid plates — front and rear — pulled the eye downward. One exception was the side mirrors, whose signal lights grew and spread, threatening to overtake the entire mirror enclosure. The headlamps gained a new shape, and the taillights incorporated smoked lenses.
Standard roof rails, optional crossbars
Dual exhaust outlets
Standard 19-inch wheels; 20- and 21-inch rims optional
Optional front and rear parking sensors
Interior The M-Class accommodates up to five occupants. The powered front seats include a driver's-side four-way power lumbar adjustment. A 60/40-split rear seat creates a level load surface when folded. Cargo volume totals 29.4 cubic feet with the seats up and 72.4 cubic feet with the seats folded. The optional Comand interface — which controls the optional navigation system, the stereo and other functions — was upgraded last year with new menus and additional features.
Optional leather-seating package
Optional front and rear heated seats
Optional heated steering wheel
Optional Harman Kardon audio
Optional backseat entertainment system with two screens
Under the Hood Four engines are available in the M-Class. The base ML350 comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but all other M-Class models have Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. When properly equipped, an all-wheel-drive non-hybrid M-Class can tow up to 7,200 pounds.
ML350 has a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 268 horsepower
ML550's V-8 makes 382 hp
ML63 AMG gets 503 hp from a 6.2-liter V-8
ML350 Bluetec diesel uses a 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 210 hp and 398 pounds-feet of torque
All engines team with a seven-speed automatic transmission
Safety Standard safety features include:
Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes
Electronic stability system
Side curtain airbags
Active front head restraints
Pre-Safe, which can cinch the front seat belts and close the windows in case of a crash
ML450 Hybrid The technology in the new ML450 Hybrid gives the SUV the ability to move on electric power alone at low speeds, which is one of the reasons Mercedes estimates it will get 21/24 mpg city/highway, which would make it the most efficient M-Class available.
The ML450 Hybrid features a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 275 hp and two electric motors that are part of the SUV's transmission. Total system output is 335 hp. One electric motor is designed for acceleration from a standing stop while the other one is meant for on-the-move acceleration. When more power is needed, the gas engine starts automatically.
This M-Class has a number of familiar hybrid characteristics. The engine sometimes turns off when the car comes to a stop and starts again when the vehicle begins to move. The ML450 Hybrid also features regenerative braking, capturing energy that would otherwise be lost as heat and instead using it to replenish the hybrid system's high-voltage battery pack.
The ML450 Hybrid is distinguished from its siblings by some exterior styling cues, including its liftgate badge, a different hood and special 19-inch wheels. Inside, occupants can monitor the hybrid system's operation and fuel economy with the optional Comand screen on the dash. Back to top
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