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The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a luxury mid-size SUV that’s set up well for families and for client-carrying duty. The 2010 Mercedes-Benz M-Class includes a hybrid version, making it the only SUV or crossover on the market to offer the choice of conventional gasoline, gasoline-electric, or diesel power. The entire M-Class was redesigned for 2009. The ML450 Hybrid model joins the M-Class for 2010.
The 2010 M-Class includes the ML350, ML350 BlueTEC, ML450 Hybrid, ML550, and ML63 AMG. 4MATIC all-wheel drive is available on the ML350 and ML450 Hybrid.
The M-Class isn’t so large that it’s cumbersome or hard to park, but it comfortably seats five and carries plenty of stuff. As daily transportation, it doesn’t feel like a truck, and it won’t beat its driver or passengers up. Yet it has the potential for some fairly serious off-highway adventuring. Properly equipped, an ML can tow up to 7,200 pounds. The M-Class is more than powerful enough in any of its variations. And it offers the safety equipment, luxury accoutrements, style and smooth finish expected of a Mercedes-Benz.
The ML450 Hybrid features a new two-mode gasoline/electric powertrain that brings EPA City/Highway ratings of 21/24 mpg, the former better than any M-Class and the latter a match for the ML350 BlueTEC diesel. Where the diesel wins is on purchase price and towing capacity. Either may qualify for a tax credit. Either reaches 60 mph in about the same eight seconds as an ML350. The ML450 is offered only as a three- or five-year lease.
The ML350 offers a choice of rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The two-wheel-drive model is lighter, more fuel efficient, offers a lower price, the four-wheel-drive model is better for inclement weather acceleration or slippery launch ramps. Power mongers have a choice of two V8 engines, the ML550 that reaches the 0-60 benchmark in less than six seconds or the ML63 AMG’s hand-made 6.2-liter that manages the sprint in less than five seconds. The AMG comes with more standard features than the ML550, and its base price is $34,000 higher.
Since it first appeared for 1998, the M-Class has helped make luxury SUVs a familiar part of the automotive landscape. The second and current generation, which arrived for 2006, is larger inside and out than the original, and also aerodynamically slipperier. M-Class offers five-passenger seating. The GL-Class offers seven-adult-seat accommodations.
The M-Class is built using car-like unibody construction with isolated front and rear subframes, a technique that emphasizes rigidity, decreased vibration and lowers weight. A double-wishbone front suspension and four-link independent rear suspension emphasize sedan-style dynamics. Yet with more than eight inches of ground clearance and electronic traction aids the M can venture further down the beaten path than most owners know or dare to.
Mercedes owners will fell at home in an M-Class and appreciate the cache and engineering the Mercedes brand will find plenty to like here. Shoppers may also consider the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Audi Q5 and Q7, Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover LR4, and Lexus GX460.
The ML350 and ML350 4MATIC are powered by a 3.5-liter V6, generating 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.