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2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

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2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.2

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a mid-size luxury SUV that offers an excellent mix of comfort, utility and power, all with the prestige inherent in any vehicle adorned with the Three-Pointed Star. With its range of engine choices and package options, the M-Class can take the form of a midlevel people mover that competes with the Lexus RX and BMW X5, to a super-premium hauler that can go toe-to-toe with a Range Rover Sport or Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

You'll Like This Car If...

Whether you want to tackle any road in sublime comfort or hit up to 174 mph on the autobahn, the M-Class can do it. On a more pragmatic front, the Mercedes M-Class boasts reams of safety features, great cargo space, and the ability to tow up to 7,200 pounds.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need an SUV that holds more than five people, the M-Class isn’t for you. For that you’ll have to step up to a 3-row vehicle like the bigger Mercedes-Benz GL-Class or a crossover like the Infiniti JX, Audi Q7 or Buick Enclave.

What's New for 2012

The Mercedes-Benz M-Class has been revamped for the 2012 model year, which marks its third generation since debuting in 1998. The 2012 M-Class has slightly bigger exterior dimensions and a sleeker design, upgraded interior and tech features, standard all-wheel drive, a new 7-speed automatic transmission, and V6 and V8 engines that are more powerful yet drink less fuel. The hybrid version has been dropped but the stout and efficient BlueTEC diesel remains.

Driving the M-Class
Driving Impressions

The M-Class further dashes the notion that ride quality must be sacrificed to have a high-riding, all-wheel-drive machine that can tackle just about any terrain. The 2012 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. For those who do want a more dynamic driving experience, that can be had with the touch of a button that adjusts the suspension. We preferred to leave the “comfort” setting on to take advantage of this SUV’s soft ride. Even at freeway speeds, the cabin is remarkably hushed. Visibility is good, but we still recommend the optional blind-spot monitoring system. 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.

Power Tailgate
This feature is a lifesaver when your hands are filled with groceries. Just touch a button on the key fob and the tailgate lifts. Closing is equally simple, either via a button on the door itself or with another press on the key fob.


Fold and Tumble Rear Seats
Folding rear seats are ubiquitous, but not so those that tumble forward, too. Though it takes an extra step, the setup yields a flat floor that is better for carrying cargo.

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Details
Interior

The 2012 M-Class has all the soft-touch materials, wood accents, and sea of sturdy buttons and knobs you’d expect in a luxury vehicle. Leather seating will still cost you extra, but even the base “MB-Tex” vinyl provides an appreciable amount of comfort and good textile feel. That sensation carries over to just about every other component, from the available wood steering wheel to the tiny gear selector, which bucks the trend not just with its size but by being mounted on the steering-wheel column instead of the center console. Rear passengers are treated to ample legroom, reclining seats, and movies of their choice with the optional twin LCD screens mounted inside the front-seat headrests.

Exterior
2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class photo

With the 2012 model comes a significant freshening of the M-Class’ sheetmetal. Up front is a revised grille that emphasizes the Mercedes-Benz emblem, and sleeker headlights that give the M-Class a more athletic look. Adding to the sportier appearance is a sculpted beltline running the sides. The rear benefits from a squatter appearance and taillights that are stretched horizontally, which gives the 2012 M-Class a more sporting vs. utilitarian look. The high-performance ML63 AMG models are distinguished by a larger air intake up front, wider front fenders and quad tailpipes in back.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

All 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUVs come with all-wheel drive, a 7-speed automatic transmission, power sunroof, 8-way heated front seats, power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch color center display, and an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD/DVD audio system with weather band and HD Radio. Safety features include nine airbags and Mercedes’ Attention Assist system that monitors for driver drowsiness. ML350 and ML550 versions ride on big, 19-inch wheels, while the top-line ML63 AMG rolls on 20-inchers.

Optional Equipment

Here’s where the M-Class’ $50,000 base price can quickly inflate by thousands of dollars. Many options are bundled into packages and include navigation, rear-view camera, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and a premium harman/kardon surround-sound system. Further options include a panorama roof, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and the Parktronic system to aid with parallel parking. The $5,000-plus Dynamic Handling Package makes for a more sporting M-Class with the addition of 20-inch wheels, air suspension and an adaptive damping system. Buyers of the AMG performance version who find its 518 horsepower still inadequate can opt for a package that adds another 32 hp and brings the SUV’s top speed to 174 mph.

Under the Hood

Each of the four 2012 M-Class models is distinguished by its own engine. At the lowest-priced end is the ML350 with a still-robust V6. Next is the most fuel-efficient of the bunch, the ML350 BlueTEC with a V6 turbodiesel that puts out tremendous power yet yields up to 27 mpg on the highway and a stated cruising range of more than 600 miles. The diesel is 50-state legal and of the “clean” variety, meaning it doesn’t put out the nasty emissions of past diesels, but will require injections of the urea-based AdBlue fluid throughout its life. The ML550 SUV uses a powerful-but-fuel-thirsty V8 biturbo, and the ML63 AMG uses an even bigger, more powerful – and even less fuel-efficient – V8. Even the “slowest” M-Class can hit 60 mph in just over seven seconds, while the AMG version can do it in 4.7 seconds, on par with high-performance sports cars.

3.5-liter V6
302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/22 mpg

3.0-liter turbodiesel V6
240 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm
455 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg

4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8
402 horsepower @ 5,000-5,750 rpm
443 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 mpg

5.5-liter biturbo V8
518 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18 mpg

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2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 39 Ratings for the 2012 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    7.9/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    8.6/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Awesome Car - great features

By on Friday, November 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Love the little mouse wheel control center."

Cons: "Navigation system hard to use, audio similar"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Great car so far - owned for 2 months now. Love the gas mileage, getting 22-24 mpg around town and 29-33 on road trips, while still having so much power and speed. The safety features of lane drift, crash detection & blind spot indicator are all helpful & useful- though I think the steering wheel could vibrate harder on the lane drift feature. Navigation system is a bit awkward to use for sure, not the most user-friendly interface, but getting use to it I guess. Love the auto high beams as well. Keyless Go is a nice feature too."

13 people out of 22 found this review helpful

Best ML 350 that I have had so far...

By on Monday, October 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Comfort, Safety, Usefulness, Dealership Experience"

Cons: "Infotainment system, Software, MBrace internet"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"The handling, braking and gas mileage have been greatly improved in comparison to the earlier (2009 and 2012) models that I owned. Infotainment is a little better, but still the worst part of the car. The blower fan could also use improvement. Interior and exterior construction is also more durable than my former models and has done a good job standing up to my preteen children. I did have some software issues during the first year that resulted in intermittent "Check Engine" warning indicator which went away after a software update. Ergonomically, this SUV is fantastic. Seats are comfortable and it is fairly responsive, considering its size and weight. I average about 18 MPG in town (with a lot of coasting) and about 22 MPG on the Freeway. I was torn between this and an Acura MDX (for the third row seating), but the dealership experience swayed me to stay with Mercedes. I was a long-time BMW owner that grew tired of the stress of purchasing negotiations and reliability issues."

10 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Best ML 350 that I have had so far...

By on Monday, October 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Comfort, Safety, Usefulness, Dealership Experience"

Cons: "Infotainment system, Software, MBrace internet"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"The handling, braking and gas mileage have been greatly improved in comparison to the earlier (2009 and 2012) models that I owned. Infotainment is a little better, but still the worst part of the car. The blower fan could also use improvement. Interior and exterior construction is also more durable than my former models and has done a good job standing up to my preteen children. I did have some software issues during the first year that resulted in intermittent "Check Engine" warning indicator which went away after a software update. Ergonomically, this SUV is fantastic. Seats are comfortable and it is fairly responsive, considering its size and weight. I average about 18 MPG in town (with a lot of coasting) and about 22 MPG on the Freeway. I was torn between this and an Acura MDX (for the third row seating), but the dealership experience swayed me to stay with Mercedes. I was a long-time BMW owner that grew tired of the stress of purchasing negotiations and reliability issues."

14 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Diesel is powerful and efficient. Great SUV.

By on Monday, October 5, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"If you need to combine good fuel efficiency, good performance, towing ability and all weather capability in a stylish package, the ML350 BlueTec is hard to beat."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

THIS WILL BE A REPEATER FOR ME.

By on Friday, September 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 73,625

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "BEAUTIFUL BODY FIT, STYLISH, BACKSEAT COMFORT"

Cons: "CUP HOLDER TOO SMALL"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"NOTHING IN THE MARKET FITS ME BETTER THAN THIS VEHICLE. I LOVE THE WAY IT DRIVES, THE WAY IT FEELS AND CERTAINLY THE WAY IT LOOKS. I AM LOOKING TO PURCHASE ANOTHER 2016 MODEL WITHIN THE NEXT 30 DAYS. I AM NOT EVEN CONSIDERING ANY POTHER VEHICLE."

4 people out of 9 found this review helpful

FIRST MERCEDES

By on Saturday, September 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,400

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Smooth, comfortable, gorgeous, safety ratings"

Cons: "Horrible sound system!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I recently purchased a 2014 ML350 4Matic... my first Mercedes. I have always been a Lexus fan. However, I have to say so far I LOVE this car. It is gorgeous, inside and out. Only real negative - my car was loaded with over $20k worth of options, yet it did not have a stereo upgrade - it came with the standard HD stereo. That is the one thing I hate about it. Worst sound system I have ever heard in a car. I am hoping MB can change that out for me eventually. (Whatever you do, at least order the HK upgrade). This car rides like a dream - very smooth, quiet ride. The active contour, massaging seats are incredible and I imagine if you haven't had them you don't think you need them, but they are worth every penny. I agree with a lot of the other reviews; the COMAND screen and controls are very difficult to get used to; not very user-friendly at all. I love the active park assist, blind spot monitor and lane departure warning systems. Just awesome! The cooled seats are very, very effective - in fact they cool so well I have had to turn them down! Fuel economy is fairly bad - I am averaging about 18, but I knew that was going to be an issue when I bought it. I really like the way the rear seats fold completely flat. Lots of room back there for pets! I would definitely recommend this car. It is just a pleasure to drive."

11 people out of 24 found this review helpful

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