2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Review
The redesigned 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class impresses auto critics with its attractive exterior, powerful, yet fuel-efficient V6 engines and more standard features.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is completely new, and reviewers are happy about the changes they’ve seen so far. The consensus of the auto press for the 2011 model was that it was pricey, and its rivals offered better value. Mercedes-Benz must have taken these comments to heart, because the 2012 M-Class comes with a more extensive list of standard features and has the same base price as the outgoing model. "Mercedes-Benz continues to keep it fresh with an all-new version of its popular M-Class SUV. More powerful engines with better fuel economy, improved handling and new technologies are all ingredients to a prize-winning recipe,” says Left Lane News. “That they are able to do it and add additional content while holding the line on price-creep is even more impressive.”
At the heart of the redesigned M-Class are two new V6 engines that test drivers praise for being powerful and refined. While early luxury midsize SUVs were lumbering, truck-based behemoths more suited to offroading than car pool duty, they say that Mercedes distances the 2012 M-Class from these humble roots. Its comfortable ride and light-on-its-feet agility, coupled with improved fuel economy from both its gas-powered and diesel engines, have reviewers raving about this next-generation luxo-hauler.
The improvements aren’t just under the hood. Many of the interior and exterior changes are subtle, but test drivers are pleased with the direction Mercedes-Benz took with this redesign. They say the 2012 M-Class has been honed rather than reinvented, with ergonomic changes and new technologies that make the driving experience easier. Plus, the M-Class’ revised sheetmetal helps it stand out as a Mercedes while updating its classic, two-box SUV silhouette.
Though the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class certainly isn’t the best value in its class, it’s a vast improvement over the 2011’s status-symbol persona. While it’s still a Mercedes, and its brand name alone will lead many shoppers to the dealership, budget-conscious buyers can feel a little happier knowing that they can get more bang for their buck.
Other Luxury SUVs to Consider
If you’d rather sacrifice your new SUV’s brand name for a better value, you have a wide-open field of available choices. The Acura MDX ranks at the top of its class for its high-tech interior and nimble performance. Plus, the MDX comes standard with seven seats, while you’ll have to wait for the 2013 M-Class to get a third row. The MDX starts a bit less than $43,000, while the 2012 M-Class costs about $46,500, which is about $3,600 more than the MDX.
If you need more burly capability out of your luxury midsize SUV than a seven-seat crossover can handle, check out the Land Rover LR4. The LR4’s third row seats are optional, but it comes standard with a terrain selector that tailors performance to four different surfaces and includes Sand Launch Control and Rock Crawl mode. With a starting price of $48,500, the LR4 is pricey for its class, especially when you consider that the base model lacks features like heated front seats and second-row climate controls that come standard with most luxury midsize SUVs. Still, the Land Rover name is just as recognizable as Mercedes-Benz’s three-pointed star, and to some buyers, its legendary capabilities will be worth the $2,000 price increase from the base 2012 M-Class.
Details: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is redesigned for this year. Mercedes hasn’t released a complete list of specifications, but we know the M-Class will be available as an ML350 4Matic or ML350 Bluetec. The ML350 4Matic comes standard with all-wheel drive and a 3.5-liter, gas-powered V6 engine that makes 302 horsepower, which will likely get approximately 17/22 mpg city/highway, according to Car and Driver. The ML350 Bluetec comes with a 3.0-liter diesel V6 that makes 240 horsepower and will get an estimated 20/25 mpg city/highway. Car and Driver also reports that later in the year, buyers will likely be able to purchase M-Classes with a 4.7-liter V8 engine or a gas-electric ML450 hybrid. There are also reports that Mercedes-Benz will offer a diesel-electric hybrid engine in the M-Class later this year, but the company has been tight-lipped about its timeline, price and availability.
The ML350 starts at $46,490 and includes features like a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and paddle shifters, eight-way power-adjustable heated front seats with four-way lumbar support, a power liftgate and rain sensing windshield wipers.
- "As the latest and greatest of the suburban utility vehicles on the market, the 2012 Mercedes M-class is certainly worth a look." -- AutoWeek
- "Mercedes-Benz has managed to turn the M-Class into an easy-driving vehicle that's about as far from its lumbering predecessors as it gets. With a stable ride, copious power and solid fuel economy when equipped with the diesel engine, this SUV could be an ambassador for the future of its kind. While the rest of the world is running to the crossover craze, the ML350 BlueTec 4Matic proves that there's still plenty of life left in the SUV game." -- Autoblog
- "However, much like the current E-Class, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 feels greater than the sum of its parts. This is a refined and comfortable vehicle that's all suited up for family duty, yet every bit as elegant as you'd expect of a vehicle with a big bottom line." -- Inside Line