2012 Mercedes M-Class
Over the last two years the mid-sized luxury SUV segment has seen a steady transition from soft, curvy body lines to more angular and boxy styling. This trend started in 2006 with BMW’s current generation X5, continued with Lexus’s 2010 RX, and now Mercedes has followed suit with its all new third-generation 2012 M-Class.
The biggest changes to the styling of the M-Class come in the form of a pronounced front grille, sculpted shoulder line, and flared rear fender arches. The aforementioned combine with an elongated profile and a roofline that plunges to the rear to produce a much sportier and rugged look than its predecessor.
The initial release of the M-Class will include two formidable engine choices; a 3.5L 302hp direct-injected gasoline V6 in the ML350 4MATIC, and a 3.0L 240hp diesel injected V6 pushing out 455 lb/ft of torque in the ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC. Both engines feature substantial increases in power and torque over their older siblings while achieving roughly twelve percent better fuel mileage; this is due to upgrades including a low-friction cylinder wall coating derived from their AMG performance engines, a new seven speed automatic transmission with a more fuel-efficient torque converter, fuel, oil, and water pumps that only run when needed, and aerodynamic enhancements such as sealed joints between the hood and headlamps, front wheel spoilers, as well as optimized under-floor and engine compartment paneling.
4MATIC full-time all-wheel-drive comes standard on all models along with Hill Start Assist and Hold which prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards when pulling away on an incline, and a very slick Downhill Speed Regulation system that enables the driver to have the M-Class automatically sustain a speed set with the cruise control lever. Additionally, if you opt for the ON&OFFROAD package as well as the Dynamic Handling Package you’ll not only have increased traction in every situation, but also an impressive gain in ride quality.
For years Mercedes has been known as a class leader in technological advances when it comes to safety, and the new M-Class is no exception. The numerous class-leading safety features include nine standard airbags, Attention Assist driver drowsiness detection, Lane Keeping Assist, and Pre-Safe Brake that will automatically apply the brakes in an emergency situation. The interior of the new M-Class has a sleek feel that bears a much larger resemblance to its sedan counterparts than their SUV’s of the past. Also no surprise are the almost infinitely adjustable power front seats, 7-inch color display for the COMAND system, and the 6-disc CD/DVD/MP3/AM/FM/HD/SIRIUS Radio with Bluetooth telephony, auxiliary, and USB inputs.
The new ML350 4MATIC and ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC are slated to arrive in dealerships in September, with pricing yet to be determined. www.mbusa.com