- Price: From $50,490
- 0-60 time: 7.3 secs
- MPG / LPG: 39.2 mpg (combined)
The AskMen Take
Mercedes’ most-wanted SUV enters round three with this, the 2012 M-Class. Made in the USA since 1997 — in its sweet home of Alabama — the M-Class has been a sales smash hit for the German brand, with over one million of the chunky premium off-roaders being pumped out to nearly every corner of the globe.
There’s still no mistaking the M-Class, even in this sleeker, third-gen guise — but things have definitely moved on somewhat. Mercedes is putting its chips exclusively on the luxury aspect of the ride’s previously lengthy list of credentials, making this the most refined M-Class yet. But does that make it the best? Now that depends…
The powertrain thread that links M-Class in the U.S. is, unusually, a diesel. The ML350 BlueTEC packs an advanced, 3.0-liter, V6 turbodiesel with 258 hp and 620 Nm under its broad hood, which cleans up its act, emission-wise, through a clever urea injection system that deals with those bad exhaust particulates to improve its greener side.
It doesn’t say “diesel” on the trunk either — a shrewd move, we think — as owing to the remarkably hushed nature and discreet, pseudo-gas roar on demand, you wouldn’t actually expect the ML350 BlueTEC to be a diesel at all. The power is plentiful, too — especially so given its 40-mpg and 600-miles-plus range. Although a little hesitant when floored in the lower revs, there’s a healthy surge of power further up the revs. Leaving more spirited SUV driving experiences to the Range Rover Sport and the BMW X5, the M-Class is more the luxury cruise liner option — soothing rather than thrilling.
That’s not to say it’s not fast, though. This diesel-driven, two-ton, longer, wider and lower Merc SUV will still lick 0-60 mph in just 7.3 seconds. It just won’t really appreciate a twisty country road thrashing at that pace — at all.
U.S. and UK markets also share one other spec in their divergent M-Class lineups: the recently announced and deliciously lunatic 5.5-liter V8 ML63 AMG. But whereas the Mercedes-Benz UK offers a frugally minded alternative in the form of an under-gunned 2.1-liter, four-cylindered diesel (ML250 BlueTEC), Mercedes-Benz USA opts for good old-fashioned grunt in offering up both a 3.5-liter gas V6 (ML350) and a thirstier still 4.6-liter V8 (ML550).