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#4

in 2012 Luxury Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $40,720 - $44,194
Original MSRP: $48,990 - $50,490
MPG: 17 City / 22 Hwy
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2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Interior

This interior review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers are impressed with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class’s improved interior quality. They say the diesel engine in the ML350 BlueTec is surprisingly quiet, and they appreciate its classy interior design.

Test drivers who mention the seats say they’re comfortable, and are happy with the rearranged switchgear. Mercedes decided to reconfigure the turn signal and cruise control stalks, because many test drivers mixed them up easily. Since this generation of the M-Class was designed during Mercedes’ partnership with Chrysler, one reviewer notes that the dashboard looks close to the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but shoppers who are able to pay $46,500 for a Mercedes SUV may be wary of design cues shared with an approximately $30,200 Jeep.

  • "It all translates into one of the creamiest, quietest diesel engines that we've ever had our hands on. We routinely found ourselves purposefully hunting for the familiar rumble and knock of the diesel engine from inside the cabin and coming up empty." -- Autoblog
  • "In addition to plenty of active and passive safety equipment, the cabin also gets a significant redesign, with new colors, new wood, metal, and brushed aluminum details, and seats that are stylish and comfortable. There's a matte wood choice, as well as piano black details and burl wood, and the interiors we saw used amber accent lighting along the dash." -- Motor Trend
  • "Road noise on all but the coarsest of road surfaces was well controlled during our test-drive." -- Left Lane News
  • "It’s worth noting just how similar the instrument layout is to the Grand Cherokee’s." -- Car and Driver

Seating

Few reviewers have mentioned the new 2012 M-Class’ seats, but those who do say they’re comfortable and spacious. This year’s models aren’t available with a third row, which will be an option for the 2013 M-Class. If you need a three-row luxury SUV with a diesel option, check out the Audi Q7. Its starting price is about $250 less than the new M-Class’, and the Q7 TDI diesel will cost you $51,450, which is only about $960 more than the Mercedes ML350 BlueTec.

  • "Although published legroom and cargo capacity have dipped slightly from the second generation, there's still ample knee clearance for 6-footers in the second row and, for the first time ever, you can recline the rear seatbacks." -- Inside Line

Interior Features

Each 2012 M-Class comes standard with a power sunroof with express open and close, dual-zone automatic climate control with dust filter, rain-sensing wipers and a power lift gate. Opting for the $3,600 Premium 1 Package adds features like a rearview camera, power-folding auto-dimming mirrors, 10 gigabytes of music storage and hard-drive navigation. One new feature for the 2012 M-Class is heated and cooled cup holders, but to get these, you’ll have to check the box for the Premium 2 Package, which will add $5,450 to the M-Class’ bottom line. In addition to everything included in the Premium 1 Package, the Premium 2 Package also adds features like keyless ignition, a rear storage compartment and multi-color ambient lighting. One package that may be particularly useful to drivers of this big SUV is the Driver Assistance Package, which costs $2,950. It includes Mercedes’ Active Lane Keeping Assist, which vibrates the steering wheel and gently aims the car back to its original lane if it senses that you’ve drifted over the line, a blind spot warning system and adaptive cruise control.

Each Mercedes-Benz M-Class also comes with Mercedes’ COMAND system, which controls the car’s audio, video and navigation. Though recent versions of COMAND are much more user-friendly than the system’s first iteration, some reviewers still find some of its aspects confusing. Reviewers haven’t mentioned their opinions on the new M-Class’ COMAND system, since only a few have had an opportunity to drive it so far. However, they are pleased with the relocation of the cruise control stalk, which was easy to confuse with the turn signal stalk in other models.

  • "Our tester featured eight-way seating controls, which are now found on the door instead of the side of the lower seat cushion. They’re a nice touch and add a sense of common Mercedes controls to the M-Class; except for the fact they are in matte-black plastic instead of the satin metal finish found in other Mercedes vehicles." -- Left Lane News
  • "In addition, interior designers finally moved the cruise control lever from above the turn indicator stalk to below it. One of the age-old gripes with the Mercedes cruise interface was that it was too easy to confuse the stalks while trying to change lanes. The new configuration easily takes care of that ail, and we're told to expect to see the improvement spread across the company's other models." -- Autoblog
  • "The most obvious difference in the interior is a switch from round air vents to rectangular, the former now reserved for Mercedes’ sports-car lineup." -- Car and Driver
  • "While the interior of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class continues to offer high-quality leather seats, excellent wood trim and a stylish four-spoke steering wheel, Mercedes-Benz has executed a few significant changes designed to make the cabin more user-friendly. Those start with the fact that the seat controls have been moved from down below the bottom cushion to the upper door panel. That means occupants no longer have to fumble with hidden switches to accurately position the eight-way power adjustable buckets." -- Autoblog

Cargo

For 2012, the M-Class’ cargo space expands from 29.4 cubic feet with all seats in use to 36.2 cubic feet. Folding the back row down will give you 71 cubic feet of cargo space to work with, which is particularly roomy for a luxury midsize SUV. If you need even more room to cart your stuff around, take a look at the Acura MDX. This three-row SUV offers a maximum of 83.5 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded and starts out about $3,600 less than the M-Class.

  • "The 36.2-cubic-foot cargo bay is deep for this class, with space enough for two weeks' worth of groceries for a family of four." -- Inside Line

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