Mercedes-Benz M-Class Performance
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz M-Class handles well for such a big, heavy SUV, though it’s no sports car. Most test drivers say the diesel-powered ML350 Bluetec is the most practical choice, for its combination of quick acceleration and fantastic fuel economy.
- "The 2013 Mercedes-Benz M-Class can tame the hazards of ruts, snow and muck - not to mention rush-hour traffic and speed bumps - while treating its driver and passengers to a supple travel experience. The M-Class doesn't feel quite as sporty as its BMW rivals, but it's anything but slow, especially when equipped with a V8 engine.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- "It is amazing just how hard you have to push to find (the ML63 AMG’s) limits, and the idea of any rational person finding them is unlikely.” -- Motor Trend
- "Whether you choose gasoline or diesel is really a matter of personal preference--both perform well in this model." -- AutoWeek (2012)
Acceleration and Power
The base ML350 comes with a 3.5-liter gas-powered V6 engine that makes 302 horsepower, while the ML550 comes with a 402-horsepower, turbocharged V8 gas engine. The ML350 Bluetec has a diesel-powered 3.0-liter V6 that makes only 240 horsepower, but its 455 pound-feet of torque helps it feel quick from a stop. The performance-oriented ML63 AMG comes with a 5.5-liter turbocharged V8 engine that makes an impressive 518 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The AMG model is also available with a performance package that will bump its horsepower up to 550. All three engines are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. According to the EPA, fuel economy ranges from 18/23 mpg city/highway in the two-wheel drive, gas-powered ML350 trim, to 20/28 mpg city/highway in the diesel Bluetec trim, to a very poor but unsurprising 13/17 mpg city/highway in AMG models.
Reviewers say the base ML350 is powerful enough, but that the ML350 Bluetec diesel may be a better choice. They say it feels faster and more powerful, and it gets better fuel economy as well. Testers don’t say much about the ML550’s V8 engine, but they love the turbocharged AMG V8. Though it’s likely unnecessary for the majority of buyers, reviewers love this engine’s assertive growl and say that it makes the ML63 insanely fast.
- "At cruising speeds, the mellow burble of the 5.5-liter V-8 is the only thing that hints at this SUV's performance potential. Despite the two sound-killing turbos, AMG has managed to create a modern musclecar soundtrack that turns heads and molds grins on the faces of the most hardened L.A. commuters.” -- Motor Trend
- "Only 20 percent of Mercedes M-Class buyers bring home the diesel model, and you should count yourself in that minority if you're serious about getting an ML." -- Inside Line (2012)
- "ML350 4MATIC has plenty of smooth power around town and on the highway. BlueTEC models are notably stronger from a standstill, and offer a healthy reserve of passing muscle as well. … ML63s include an idle stop/start system that turns the engine off when the truck is stopped and restarts it instantly when the brake pedal is released. It works, but it isn't the smoothest system like this that we've encountered.” -- Consumer Guide
Handling and Braking
Reviewers say the M-Class’ handling isn’t bad, but it’s not quite sporty either. Most reviewers agree that while the ML doesn’t feel exactly agile, its body roll is well-controlled. They write that the AMG-tuned ML63’s ride is a bit stiffer than the other trim levels, but not to the point where it’s uncomfortably bumpy over rough roads. One test driver noted that the steering felt fairly numb. All models except the base ML350 come standard with all-wheel drive, while the base trim now comes standard with rear-wheel drive.
- "All M-Class models ride very comfortably and are reassuringly composed. The ML63 rides a bit firmer than its siblings but remains compliant.” -- Consumer Guide
- "Steering feels a tad light at lower speeds and isn't very communicative overall. The M-Class has a relatively tight turning radius of 38.7 feet, which means fewer 3-point turns.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- “The SUV never achieves the light, tossable feeling of a sports car, but rather beats physics into submission with big contact patches and intelligent suspension. In tight quarters, physics battles back, throwing hairpins and big braking areas at the heavyweight powerhouse.” -- Motor Trend (ML63 AMG)
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