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 Big Moo on Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Diesel mileage is terrific. Price of diesel is not. Turbo engine is fantastic. Super traction in snow. Highly recommend this vehicle."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By CO skier on Saturday, November 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Powerful and quiet. Exudes confidence on the road."
Cons: "Expensive to maintain."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I've had this car for 8 years now. I absolutely love it. Aside from the stalk and NAV issues (which are correct, but you adapt) the car is well designed and exudes a solid and stable feel. I drive it up I 70 from Denver to go skiing 40 to 50 times a season and it eats up the inclines and mountain passes with it's twin turbo V6. The car is comfortable for four people and their day ski items. I have a Thule roof box for extended trips to Telluride, Aspen or Steamboat. The car is quiet and powerful. Never been stuck or had the engine not start even in -20F temps. The downside is that it is expensive to maintain, especially off warranty. I track expenses very carefully. I've spent $17,800 in 8 years on direct mx. That works out to $2,250 per year. That's for scheduled and unscheduled mx. The car also eats tires. I have gone through 4 sets in 120,000 miles at a cost of another $5,000 (19" wheels and 2 sets Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snow and 2 sets Continental Contact. BTW I find these tires to be a perfect fit with this car). If you can afford the mx then you will not be disappointed with the power and solid feel of the ML 320CDI. Also note that the 2007 and 2008 were the only two years that MB did not use Blue-Tec (Urea) to reduce emmissions. The Blue tec has it's own tank and needs to be replaced every 10k miles, which will add to mx expense. I have never failed an emmissions test in CO with the 2007 and it does not exhibit any smoke, nor 'diesel' noise. The only way you know you are in a diesel is when you hit the 'gas' and are thrust forward under the twin turbo's 398 ft pnds of torque. I've averaged 30 MPG and get a little over 600 miles per tank. I'd buy one again, but I'd also buy an extended warranty with the purchase."
17 people out of 31 found this review helpful
By EdBenz on Thursday, October 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The ML500 W164 has been a great vehicle, before I bought I compared with X5 V8/ Range Rover Sport and I'm very glad I went for it, its superior in reliability to the other 2 above that are known for problems after problems and very expensive maintanance. This one has all the space I need, enough HP (302) it's seemless how nice it shifts, it cruises on the road in comfort luxury and safety and the looks are better as well comparing ML500 with the other 2 with same year, all I do is an oil change every 10000 miles, tires rotation, and a few light bulbs. Superior quality and reliability."
16 people out of 29 found this review helpful
By Mercedes Lover on Thursday, October 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 61,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to Drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I'm the 2nd owner of this ML320 Diesel. I purchased it with 48,000 miles -and I will own it when it has 248,000 miles. Runs like a well oiled machine -25 mpg -like riding on a cloud! If you offered me a new one for no additional dollar difference -I wouldn't give you my 08 ML320. I LOVE IT!!!!!!"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By bill on Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "quiet ride, handles nicely"
Cons: "$$$$ Service, Poor Nav/Ent system, too many stalks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"our first and last Mercedes benz car. Have come to dread even routine service appointments. Cheapest one has been $250 with the latest almost $2,500. Really do not like the automatic shift design. It is a stalk on the steering column you push down for D and UP for R. Very counter intuitive after decades of driving and always pulling down for any gear. Had no idea how to get car in neutral for car washes etc. After three years still confuse cruise control stalk for directional. Way to many stalks on steering column. Nav/Ent is a beast to use like the style and cosmetics of the car and it rides SUPER quiet, but not a good value at all based on service costs."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Barb on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've had my 2006 ML350 since it came off the showroom floor. It still sounds and looks brand new. It's comfortable and easy to drive."
12 people out of 27 found this review helpful