Mercedes' midsize M-Class SUV was redesigned for 2009 and gained a 50-state diesel engine. The lineup expanded last year with the introduction of a hybrid model, the ML450. Competitors include the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Land Rover LR4.
(Skip to details on the: ML450 Hybrid)
New for 2011
A new telematics system called "mbrace" replaces Tele Aid and offers new features, including the ability to lock and unlock doors remotely and locate the vehicle in a parking lot through an iPhone or BlackBerry. All models get new side mirrors and an inside mirror with an integrated compass, and Blind Spot Assist is a new option.
Almost all the exterior changes in the most recent redesign 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.
- Standard roof rails, optional crossbars
- Dual exhaust outlets
- Standard 19-inch wheels; 20- and 21-inch rims optional
- Optional front and rear parking sensors
The M-Class accommodates up to five occupants. The powered front seats include a driver-side four-way power lumbar adjustment. A 60/40-split rear seat creates a level load surface when folded.
- Standard "mbrace" telematics system
- 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 400 pounds-feet of torque
- All engines team with a seven-speed automatic transmission
Standard safety features include:
- Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system
- Side-impact airbag
- 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
The technology in the new ML450 Hybrid allows the SUV to move on electric power alone at low speeds, one reason it gets 21/24 mpg city/highway.
The ML450 Hybrid features a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 275 hp and is supplemented by two electric motors that are part of the eight-speed, continuously variable automatic transmission. Total 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
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||May 20, 2010|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||April 30, 2011|
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