2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 4MATIC First Drive – Truck Trend

15 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 4MATIC First Drive – Truck Trend
Mercedes ML 350

More to love for the same old price

It’s often advised not to mess with what works; If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Looking at the sales boards, the Mercedes M-Class could unequivocally be called a success with roughly 1.1 million examples sold since its introduction in 1998. Still, a little updating never hurts, especially in the ultra-competitive luxury SUV segment.

For that reason, Mercedes has introduced a new, third-generation M-Class for 2012 and it takes an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, approach to staying ahead of the competition.

Helping to do just that are two new V-6 engines. The base engine is Mercedes’ 3.5-liter direct-injection V-6, which produces 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque — improvements of 13 and 6 percent over previous figures. Fuel economy is rated at 17/22 city/highway mpg, also stronger figures than the outgoing model. An extra $1500 will net buyers Mercedes’ slick new turbocharged 3.0-liter BlueTEC diesel mill, producing 240 horsepower and a substantial 455 lb-ft of torque.

That’s money well-spent. While Mercedes claims acceleration figures are similar for the two engines (and towing capacity is identical at 7200 pounds for each), the diesel is the superior fuel-sipper, boasting an EPA rating of 20/25 mpg city/highway and a theoretical range of more than 600 miles per tank (a smaller, European-market, four-cylinder diesel option is said to be capable of roughly 900 miles per tank). At launch, all 2012 M-Class models feature 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive, though a future front-wheel drive V-6 version will be released in late 2012.

Mercedes ML 350

Although engineers may have looked to the design of a Coke can for weight-saving measures, they didn’t want the new M-Class to share its acoustic properties. Thicker windshield glass, new door seals, and sound-absorbing panels conspire to make this the quietest-riding M-Class yet. At freeway speeds, road noise is largely subdued and wind noise only becomes slightly urgent when speeds approach triple digits.

Couple the isolated ride with the excellent optional 610-watt, 14-speaker Harmon Kardon stereo, and the M-Class becomes a very comfortable place to rack up the freeway miles.

MB’s styling department has chosen to go evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The front gets the new stout, upright family grille, the waistline has been raised, a larger roof-mounted spoiler has been fitted, and new 19-inch wheels are standard. What hasn’t changed is the angled rear C-pillar that current owners identified as a defining M-Class element.

Combined with the Benz’s reduction in height, engineers say the new bodystyle results in improved aerodynamics and a drag coefficient of just 0.34.

Mercedes ML 350
Mercedes ML 350
Mercedes ML 350
Mercedes ML 350
Mercedes ML 350
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