2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Overview
Redesigned for 2012, the American-built Mercedes-Benz M-Class is now more generous with standard features and offers a revamped engine lineup—including a diesel and high-performance version. Matched against segment favorites like the Lexus RX350, Acura MDX, and Audi Q7, the third-generation M-Class has distinctive styling with a more aggressive appearance up front and more chiseled sculpturing in the side panels. Overall it projects a lower, tougher attitude but is sleek enough to strike a luxury pose.
The all-wheel-drive M-Class comes in four models – each with a different engine. The base ML350 sports a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine while the ML350 BlueTEC is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo diesel rated at 455 lb-ft of peak torque. Next is the ML550 with a 402-horsepower 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8. From the in-house tuner shop comes the ML63 AMG with a 518-horsepower 5.5-liter twin-turboV-8. All engines are backed with a paddle-shifted 7-speed automatic transmission.
The new gas engines provide better fuel economy than previous models but require premium gasoline. The ML350 has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The ML550 is rated at 15/20, respectively, while the ML63 AMG is good for 14/18. The EPA gives the diesel version a 20/27 rating. The M-Class can be equipped to tow up to 7,200 pounds.
Mercedes made a few changes to clean up the interior ergonomics and improve the overall feel of the materials. The loudest complaint will be the lack of a third-row seat, which may be offered in another year. Otherwise features such as power sunroof, power liftgate, and dual-zone climate controls are standard. Interesting options include heated and cooled cup holders. The standard audio features a 7-inch LCD screen, Bluetooth, USB port, memory-card reader and CD/DVD player. A Harman Kardon surround sound audio system with 80-gig hard-drive navigation is optional.
The M-Class was named a 2012 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard safety equipment includes electronic stability control, trailer sway control, 11 airbags with optional rear side-impact airbags and adaptive brake controls that even help dry the brake rotors in wet conditions. Optional safety equipment includes parking assist, lane-keeping assist, rearview camera, and active headlamps.
With a starting price of nearly $100,000, the ML63 AMG is fully loaded and boasts special leather upholstery, unique styling trim, active air suspension, advanced braking, and 20-inch wheels. There's also a special performance package that adds increases the top speed to 174 mph.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class offers a full range of models to suit luxury SUV buyer who looking for more comfort than utility.