By KBB.com Editors
Mercedes-Benz has continued to refine the M-Class SUV for 2011 by introducing a new, very efficient hybrid drivetrain. Though equipped with a relatively heavy, less-advanced nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, the ML450 Hybrid helps make this already-sophisticated SUV line a front-runner in the luxury utility race. With a unibody design, excellent road manners and a world-class suspension, the vehicle delivers all the comfort of a crossover with the capability of an SUV. With a respectable cargo area that delivers up to 29.4 cubic feet of storage and seating for five individuals, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz M-Class remains an excellent alternative family vehicle.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz M-Class competes with vehicles like the BMW X5 and Lexus RX 350. If either of those is on your shopping list, you'll likely be right at home behind the wheel of the luxurious M-Class, which delivers much of the handling capability of the BMW with the comfort of its Lexus rival.
If you find yourself needing three rows of seating on a regular basis, the 2011 M-Class is not for you. With just two rows and seating for five occupants, the M-Class lacks the people-moving capability of its larger sibling, the GL-Class, but makes up for it with better fuel efficiency and maneuverability.
The days of the fuel-thirsty SUV have come to a close. Mercedes-Benz now offers the M-Class with a hybrid drivetrain capable of up to 22 mpg combined. Additionally, the company's BlueTEC diesel technology offers a combined EPA fuel economy estimate of 21 mpg.
Driving Impressions Thanks to the significant revisions that Mercedes-Benz introduced in 2010, the 2011 M-Class continues to be a superb performer on road. With its unibody construction and optional adaptive suspension, the...SUV offers a superb highway ride that's akin to the German automaker's smooth-driving luxury sedans. Though this vehicle may lack some of the off-road prowess of the BMW X5, we'd feel safe in betting that most buyers won't be assaulting rock-filled back roads on the way to the mall. Though we love the feel of the V8-powered ML550, the truth is that the torque of the ML350 BlueTEC would be more satisfying to live with on a day-to-day basis. That's especially true when it comes time to fill the tank.
The 2011 M-Class is equipped with a long list of safety equipment that includes traction and stability control, multiple airbags and active headrests. Additionally, the company's Pre-Safe system tightens seatbelts and closes windows when it senses an impending collision.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is available with an optional air suspension that allows for an extra three inches of ground clearance to tackle rough terrain. An active damping system also lets you choose between Auto, Comfort and Sport settings, to best suit the road ahead.
The interior of the 2011 M-Class is a somewhat odd mix of features, designed to walk the line between off-road brute and downtown civility. Large, circular air vents and padded rails along the bottom of the center console lend the impression of rugged capability while a somewhat dainty gear selector stalk juts from the steering column. Though we typically expect modern vehicles to have a now-almost-standard console-mounted shifter, the stalk on the 2011 M-Class takes next to no time to get used to. As with most Mercedes-Benz products, this vehicle boasts incredibly comfortable seats. The driver's seat has four-way power adjustable lumbar support and there's enough room to transport four adults or two adults and two children comfortably.Exterior
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz M-Class stands out among the luxury SUV crowd as a sharp-looking vehicle. In range-topping ML63 AMG configuration, it presents an aggressive persona with large 20-inch wheels and menacing bodywork front and rear. Meanwhile, the standard-trim M-Class makes use of a large grille and appropriately-sized headlights. Stainless skid plates and sizeable side-view mirrors lend the impression of plenty of off-road capability. Though the relatively shorter wheelbase of the M-Class enhances nimble handling in parking lots and on tight city streets, the vehicle's tall ride height makes for difficulty reaching cargo stashed on the roof rails.
Mercedes-Benz has equipped the 2011 M-Class with a seven-speed automatic transmission, automatic climate control, a multimedia radio unit with in-dash six-disc changer, auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, cruise control, automatic headlamps, heated and auto-dimming exterior mirrors, multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel, outside temperature display, 19-inch wheels, power glass sunroof and a four-way adjustable steering column. Standard safety equipment includes the Pre-Safe system as well as an array of passive and active safety technologies, including front, front-side and front and second-row side-curtain airbags.
For the most part, Mercedes-Benz has grouped the options for the 2011 M-Class into packages. Buyers may choose an active-damping air suspension, hard-drive-based navigation, keyless entry, parking assist, a heated steering wheel with heated rear seats and an excellent harman/kardon audio system. If you're after the ultimate performance luxury SUV, there's also the high-horsepower ML63 AMG.
With an impressive V6 good for 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, opting for the lower-priced, higher-mileage ML350 won't leave you feeling short-changed in the power department. For those who want the towing capability of a V8 with the fuel mileage of a frugal four-cylinder, the ML350 BlueTEC diesel is an excellent choice. Die-hard speed freaks will no doubt drool over the ML63 AMG's 503 horsepower, but the price tag near $90,000 may render this hot-rod SUV little more than a pipe dream. Finally, the efficient ML450 Hybrid utilizes start-stop technology to achieve up to 43-percent better fuel economy than its 3.5-liter V6 stable mate.
268 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/20 (2WD), 15/20 (AWD)
3.5-liter V6 with Hybrid module
275 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3000-5500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/24
3.0-liter V6 Turbodiesel
210 horsepower @ 3400 rpm
400 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-2400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
382 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
391 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18
503 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
465 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/15
By Jason Louis Bridges on Friday, March 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,100overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "good comfort, nice ride, AWD is a bless"
Cons: "mechanically unreliable, expensive on the road"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"One may be surprised by the title, but here are my reasons why I am stating that: * NOTE * this is for the ML320 CDI models up to 2009 - Let me start by saying that I have never had a vehicle to be so costly in repairs. And when I am talking repairs, I am talking about design and manufacturing issues, which should have been called lemon issues to begin with. For starters, I had to replace front differential at only 50k miles; all the struts and shocks failed at 65k miles; oil cooler had to be changed at 70k; Timing belt, manifold gaskets, one computer (out of many) and I can continue the list on and on and on ... Overall is a bad design from the start. Why? Well all the parts that had to be replaced were "upgraded" by Mercedes with supposedly better quality materials. Why has this not been done from the beginning ? Because this is were they make the money - "stealership". Overall - is a nice car, a pleasure to drive and real comfortable - when it works."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Flash on Saturday, March 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "nice to drive, comfort and best features"
Cons: "gas mileage at times in the city"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great vehicle to drive. Smooth as you can get for am Suv. Handles well on curves with power. Wouldnt go back to any other brand than Mercedes."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By missy on Tuesday, March 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I Purchased this car in 2006 brand new with 10 miles, it was my dream car , I thought. within 6 months on Christmas night, the transmission went out, thank god it was under warranty, then a year later the power steering went out, again thank god , it was still under warranty . I started to wonder if I should trade it in. but I really loved my car and felt like all the kinks was out. Well , the A/C vents broke, power seats stop working, had message about the airbags not working , took it to the dealer and all this was not covered with my warranty. spent over $3500. to fix all . the next year the radiator went out , $2,000. the power driver window button snapped off, and the lights needed to be changed , which I have had to do every year. I can't understand why the light bulds don't last because apparentely there is a back up bulds. spent $450 just to change 2 parking lights/fog lights/ 2 back lights. now we are in 2014 , the timming chain broke , $6,000 to fix !!! can't do it !! I will put on craig's list an hope I can get a decent amount for it. I can't even get $6,000 from the dealer to trade in , they offered $5,000. the worst purchase of my life !!! never again will I buy a MERCEDES BENZ !!!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By pwrdad on Saturday, March 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best all around vehicle I have owned"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought the BluTec after owning a 2006 4matic, which I still own. The 2006 was a good car, but wanted navigation and Bluetooth and diesel engine. I am extremely happy with this SUV. I was concerned after researching the navigation and it was not easy to learn, but it is great after learning. The vehicle is MUCH less noisy than expected, I have three other diesel vehicles. This car may last a lifetime, my spouse is still driving the 2006 in CA and it may last a lifetime."
By Sidekick on Friday, March 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Cons: "Lack of knowledge of repair by dealer."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Expensive to purchase but payback in economy. Per hour rate to repair this ML at $117.00 per hour is out of range for most families."
By Jon on Friday, March 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 101,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great vehicle and worth every dollar"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I was hesitant to put that much money in a new vehicle however I had never owned a Mercedes. My 8 year Mercedes experience has been absolutely great. I will do the same thing again."