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Thursday, July 14, 2011

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-class Revealed

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-class Photos and Info – News – Car and Driver #pallet {margin:0;}#echoice li.category {margin:0;}Car and DriverIntelligence. Independence. Irreverence. VehiclesReviewsNewsFeaturesBuyer's GuideFollow UsSubscribeSearch Car and DriverHome › News › 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-class / ML350 4MATIC / ML350 BlueTec...

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2012 Mercedes-Benz M-class / ML350 4MATIC / ML350 BlueTec - Car NewsThe next Mercedes-Benz ML looks a lot like the old ML, but a lot better, too.BY DAVID GLUCKMAN
June 2011


2012 Mercedes-Benz M-class / ML350 4MATIC / ML350 BlueTec

Photos (57)Visit Our Buyer's Guide »Mercedes-Benz M-class› Overview› Specifications› Price with Options› Photos & 360° View› Get a Free QuoteNews & Reviews2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 / ML550 / ML63 AMG Spy Photos - Future Cars2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid - Quick Spin2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid - Auto Shows2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec, ML350, ML550, ML63 AMG - Auto Shows2008 Mercedes-Benz ML350 Edition 10 - Car NewsMercedes-Benz ML63 AMG - Auto ShowsBig Makeover for the M-class - Car NewsMercedes-Benz M-Class - Auto ShowsBertrandt Competence Car - Auto ShowsTop CompetitorsAcura MDXAudi Q7BMW X5Infiniti FXPorsche Cayenne

Now in its third generation, the Mercedes-Benz M-class is refining the Mercedes SUV experience, rather than reinventing it. The 2012 ML is the same basic size and shape as before, but the platform—shared in part with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee—is new, and the vehicle gets significant upgrades in efficiency and style for 2012.

The exterior appears sleeker and more sculpted, while the most obvious difference in the interior is a switch from round air vents to rectangular, the former now reserved for Mercedes’ sports-car lineup. (It’s worth noting just how similar the instrument layout is to the Grand Cherokee’s.) A big increase in quality and design can be felt inside. A large swath of either wood or metal-look plastic sits before the front passenger, while the driver gets a meaty-feeling steering wheel flanked by new stalks for the transmission, wipers, and cruise control. (The cruise-control stalk, thankfully, has been moved from M-B’s usual placement on the upper-left of the steering column to a lower, more-conventional position.) Attractive open-pore wood is on the options sheet.

At launch, Mercedes will offer two familiar six-cylinders, while the new twin-turbo 4.7-liter V-8 will follow later. Both V-6 models will be badged ML350. The direct-injection 3.5-liter gas engine produces 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, increases of 34 and 15 over the outgoing gas V-6; while the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel in the BlueTec is now good for 240 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, up 30 hp and 55 lb-ft. A switch from pressed-in cylinder liners to a spray-on coating in the diesel reduces both weight and friction. Both engines come coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

Look Out, Porsche 911 GT3

Diesel models also get new adjustable engine mounts. Similar in principle to the dynamic engine mounts Porsche installs in some 911 models, Mercedes’ pieces are said to improve comfort by allowing for greater isolation of the engine. While VW and Porsche are pulling off-road content out of the new Touareg and Cayenne to cut weight, Mercedes will offer an off-road package on the new M-class with a six-mode selector for different types of driving—towing, sport, winter, trailering, and two different off-road settings—as well as a two-speed transfer case, a skid plate, and extra functionality for the optional air suspension, which will also be available as a standalone option. Customers will be able to further add to their M-class’s rock-hopping abilities with a decoupling anti-roll-bar system that disconnects the bar in off-road situations—as well as normal straight-ahead driving—but reconnects it during cornering. A whole suite of driver-assistance systems, the same ones offered on the S-class, either will be included or available: lane-keep assist, blind-spot assist, radar cruise control, and attention assist.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-class will go on sale here in September. Pricing will be announced in August; we expect that it, like the shape of Mercedes’ SUV, will remain largely unchanged. That means about $50,000 for an ML350 4MATIC and around $52,000 for a BlueTec.


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