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2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

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2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Review

Offers luxury, technology, and comfort, but needs improvement in steering and handling.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a family of sport utility vehicles, which offers consumers a lot of luxury and performance. Mercedes-Benz officially renamed the M-Class the ML class to avoid confusion between its models and models offered by BMW and Infiniti. Three trims are available: ML320, ML500, and ML55 AMG. The ML320 delivers the rugged looks, room, safety and utility that high-end SUV buyers seek along with a V-6 engine that keeps pricing down to earthly levels. The ML500 offers all that, plus a more powerful V-8 engine. The ML55 AMG offers high performance. All models have passenger-sensing dual front airbags, front and rear side airbags, window curtain airbags, and automatic seatbelt force limiters. Beginning in 2001, the company's TeleAid and COMAND systems became standard equipment, along with new downhill traction control having a crawl mode for slow descents on steep icy streets or off-road driving. The ML500 and ML55 come standard with Electronic Stability Program to correct sliding and Brake Assist.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 3.2-liter V-6, 5.0-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-8
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz ML320, Mercedes-Benz ML500, Mercedes-Benz ML55 AMG

What's New

The 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class replaced the ML430 with the ML500 and modified over 1100 parts of the truck without changing much of the car’s exterior. The company added new bumpers, clear-lens headlights, and revised side mirrors. For the interior, the center console has a new look and all models get standard wood grain trim, a new automatic climate control system, dual cup holders and separate ventilation controls for rear-seat passengers.

Exterior

Standard features for the 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class includes 17-inch alloy wheels, variable intermittent front windshield and rear window wipers, swing-out opening rear quarter windows, rear defogger, roof rack, front fog lights, rear fog light, automatic daytime running lights, rear liftgate door, power windows, and remote power door locks. It also has dusk-sensing headlights, and power-heated mirrors with integrated turn signals. The passenger mirror reverse-tilts to provide a view of the curb for easier parking. The ML500 has privacy glass, and the ML55 AMG has 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, Xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, power opening rear quarter windows, and variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class has a graceful, sculpted front end and sloped hood. The body-on-frame construction makes it more suitable for towing than many of the competition. It has a towing capacity of 5000 pounds and a maximum cargo capacity of 81.2 cubic feet with all seats folded down. When all seats are upright, cargo capacity is 34.7 cubic feet.

Interior

The 2002 Mercedes-Benz ML320's standard features includes cloth upholstery, climate control, cruise control, second and third-row bench seats, power steering, external temperature display, universal remote transmitter, tilt steering wheel with leather trim, and a six-speaker AM/FM CD-controlled stereo system. The center console and doors are trimmed with a wood finish and the shift knob is trimmed with leather. The ML500 has eight-way heated power front bucket height-adjustable seats, leather upholstery, and wood trim on the shift knob. The ML55 AMG has sport front bucket front heated eight-way power seats with height adjustments, leather upholstery, leather/wood trim on shift knob, and three 12-volt power outlets. The center console, dashboard, and doors are trimmed in wood.

The 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class' quality of interior materials is good, but the cabin insulation does not thoroughly dampen wind and tire noise, especially at high speeds. The navigation controls are confusing, but audio and climate controls are easier to use. The interior is comfortable and spacious, and the low step-in and wide-opening doors make entry/exit easier. The second-row access is easy, but leg room is tight. The third row is adequate enough for children to sit comfortably. The rear seats folds down but not easily. The low deck makes loading the cargo area easy.

Performance & Handling

The 2002 Mercedes-Benz ML320 is powered by a 3.2-liter V-6 engine that makes 215 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque. The ML500 has a 5.0-liter V-8 engine with 288 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, and the ML55 AMG has a 5.5-liter V-8 engine that has 342 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. All three engine choices are mated with a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capability and full-time four-wheel drive. The M-Class has four-wheel independent suspension with double wishbone suspensions in the front and rear. Acceleration is good and the quick-shifting automatic transmission changes gears smoothly. The handling is very good for an SUV of this size due to the stability control feature, but the steering requires a lot of muscling. The large ventilated disc brakes provide very good stopping power.

Safety

Standard safety features for the 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class include four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, dual front airbags with front passenger and infant car set sensors, side curtain airbags in front and rear, anti-lock braking system, anti-theft alarm system, emergency braking assist, stability/traction controls, electronic Brake force distribution, and engine immobilizer.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mercedes-Benz ML320: 14/17 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz ML500: 13/16 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz ML55 AMG: 12/16 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Good acceleration from the ML430 and ML55
  • Good build quality
  • Adaptive four-wheel-drive system is easy to use
  • Good passenger and cargo room

You Won't Like

  • Complicated navigation system
  • Poor steering and handling
  • Poor fuel economy

Sum Up

Offers luxury, technology, and comfort, but needs improvement in steering and handling.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • BMW X5
  • Infiniti M56
  • Porsche Cayenne
  • Volkswagen Touareg
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee

See the New 2014 M-Class.

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