All new for 2012, the Mercedes Benz M-Class continues to be the segment leader among luxury mid-sized SUVs.
For 2012, the SUV comes with a new V-6 engine that's more powerful and yet more efficient than the last generation model. It's a sweet engine, generating more than 300 horsepower and, mated to a seven-speed automatic, rated at an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The BlueTEC diesel engine, though, is a powerhouse, with enough acceleration/pulling power (called torque) to blast forward from a dead stop, tow more than7000 pounds, yet achieve a fuel economy of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
The 2012 Mercedes Benz M-Class is, of course, chockfull of technology. For the new model year, the automaker has added on new safety tech including Attention Assist, which alerts drivers if they're becoming drowsy; Adaptive Highbeam Assist; and a blind spot detection sensor system. Options continue to be staggering but the price rises rapidly as you select more features.
Body style: SUV
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6, 3.0-liter diesel V-6
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
Models: ML350 4Matic, ML350 BlueTEC 4Matic
The Mercedes Benz M-Class is all-new this year, both its exterior and interior redesigned for model year 2012. The automaker has made subtle changes to the sheetmetal, especially the front and sides, giving the large crossover a more muscular appearance and lower stance, while upgrading the interior materials with more premium-looking materials and contemporary design.
Mercedes Benz revamped the 2012 M-Class for the new model year, giving it a more muscular appearance without losing its distinctive crossover-boxy SUV look. The M-Class appears wider and lower to the ground, with the side indents giving the SUV more character. The rear end design looks generic, though the roof spoiler contributes to M-Class' more hunkered look. The front grill has been refreshed slightly to be more in keeping with the automaker's lineup overall appearance. We still think the crossover could have more distinctive wheel designs, though.
Mercedes updated the M-Class interior and it shows. More premium-looking materials were used on the dash, center stack, and seating. Controls are easy to read for aging eyes though we're still wondering the number of climate control buttons. And steering wheel controls are minimal for a vehicle this size and price. On the other hand, the heated and cooled cupholder system definitely makes the SUV stand out in amenities. Interior dimensions continues to be spacious for all but the tallest passengers.
Performance & Handling
Mercedes updated the electronic steering on the 2012 M-Class to feel more natural than the prior generation, making the SUV feel more solid and confident on the road. Suspension continues to be a fine balance of comfortable and sporty, with the suspension system just allowing enough road imperfections without floating over them. Both V-6 engines offer plenty of power, but the BlueTEC V-6 is strong in acceleration and offers better fuel economy, as expected of a diesel.
Like most Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV is chockfull of safety equipment and technology. Standard equipment includes front and rear side airbags; driver-knee airbag; and side curtain airbags. Antilock brakes (ABS); traction and stability control (ESC) are joined by hill stop/start assist; blind spot detection (which alerts drivers if someone is in the vehicle's blindspot); lane keeping assist (nudges the SUV back into one lane); and adaptive cruise control. Optional safety equipment includes Mercedes' Attention Assist which alerts drivers with audio and visual signals if the system senses he or she is getting drowsy.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic: 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway
Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC 4Matic: 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway
- More powerful, fuel-efficient engines
Safety equipment and technology
More luxurious interior
You Won't Like
- No third-row seating
Little changes add up to even more desirable vehicle
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