By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
In the 2013 Mercedes-Benz M Class, buyers will find an SUV that delivers safety, luxury and the status that comes with having the three-pointed star on the hood. The M-Class's wide and varied trim levels make it a multi-faceted SUV, with a diesel model for those seeking good fuel economy and two V8 engines for the performance-oriented set. Even the base V6 offers a good blend of power and fuel economy, and helps keep the M-Class price in check. This year, a new Off-Road package adds a two-stage transfer case, allowing the M-Class to go head-to-head with the Land Rover Range Rover and Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited.
Any luxury SUV can promise a quiet cabin and a smooth ride. But very few can claim a 174-mph top speed on the German autobahns or offer the stump-pulling torque of a fuel-efficient diesel engine. The well-regarded safety features of the M-Class are just another selling point, as is its 7,200-pound tow rating.
While the M-Class can wear many hats, it can't fit more than five people in its well-appointed cabin. Those needing more space might look to the larger GL or even an Audi Q7 or Infiniti JX. Those seeking similar luxury and off-road features at a more affordable price might consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited.
For 2013, a new Off-Road package offers a 2-stage transfer case, Airmatic adjustable suspension, locking differential and six selectable driving programs. The ML350 now offers a rear-drive model, while new massaging front seats with comfort headrests join the options list. New standard equipment includes the mbrace2 telematics system and Collision Prevention Assist.
Driving Impressions 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. For those who want a more dynamic driving experience, that can be had with the touch of a button that adjusts the suspension. We preferred to leave it on the "comfort" setting 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.
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.
A true leap forward in telematics, mbrace2 is a Cloud-based subscription service that uses your smartphone to connect to the Internet, allowing apps like Facebook, Google and Yelp to be online and at work whenever the car's in motion. Mbrace2 can even download system and map updates.
The 2013 M-Class has all the soft-touch materials and wood accents 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 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 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
Last year's thorough freshening carries over to the 2013 M-Class. Up front is a revised grille that emphasizes the Mercedes-Benz emblem and sleeker headlights that give the M-Class a more modern look. Adding to the sportier appearance is a sculpted beltline running the sides. The rear benefits from a squatter shape and taillights that are stretched horizontally, which give the 2013 M-Class a more sporting instead of 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.
All 2013 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUVs come with a 7-speed automatic transmission, power sunroof, 8-way heated front seats, power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, 7-inch color center display, Collision Prevention Assist and an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD/DVD mbrace2 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.
Here's where the M-Class' $50,000 base price can quickly inflate. 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 can opt for a package that adds another 32 horsepower and a top speed of 174 mph.
Each of the four 2013 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 potential 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 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 accelerate from zero to 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.
302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/22 mpg, 13/17 mpg (E85)
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: 14/20 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: 13/17 mpg
By M J on Thursday, September 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fit and finish, luxurious interior, comfortable."
Cons: "Poor reliability and durability. Klunky ergonomics"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Hi Everyone: This is a followup to my November 24, 2012 review, now with 2 years and 33,000 miles on my ML350 4Matic with P01 package and Harman Logic7 sound. Fit and finish, ride quality, and stereo still are very good. However, reliability and durability have proven to be very poor. 1) Low profile (for a SUV) tires are fragile, this is definitely a road-going SUV only. I have replaced two tires due to damage at $450 per. 2) This thing EATS BRAKES. Rear brakes have been replaced TWICE so far after only 2yrs and 33K miles of ownership. First time was a warranty repair, second time the dealer denied warranty even though the brakes went from 90% to 5% in 10 months and 13K miles only. 3) Center console cupholder mechanism failed after less than 1 year, repaired under warranty. This car is definitely a disappointment, given MB's self-professed reputation for quality and reliability. Luxurious, yes. Reliable and durable? No."
12 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Styles on Sunday, September 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 300overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fit, finish handling, ride."
Cons: "Poor instrument layout, poor interior room."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"This is a great vehicle for people who want a nice, well-made small SUV. It's powwerful, handles well, and has nice finishing. I am not happy with the ergonomics at all. Too much of the electronic controls are too small and too far from from the driver, requiring you to take your eyes off the road to make any selections or adjustments. I am most unhappy with the navigation and other associated functions. They require total distraction if you want to use them while driving, which is unacceptale. I would not purchase this vehicle again for those reasons alone. As far as driving, handling, and fit, this vehicle is first rate."
11 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By SUVPilot on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,700overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Brand Prestige"
Cons: "Overpriced truck, under-powered V6 engine"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Driving dynamics is similar to Grand Cherokee due to virtually identical chassis and body frame. The under-powered V6 engine is simply too weak to move briskly this 5000 lbs truck. I should have bought the V8 which will definitely change my poor driving experience. As to the driving position and seating comfort, it is about average, and not the command view that an SUV is supposed to have (Lexus GX has an elevated and upright driving position that other luxury SUVs ought to have). This SUV is overpriced by at least 5K even if MB has great brand prestige. And too bad, all those European or Japanese luxury SUVs are overpriced trucks that are only worth about 70% of their MSRP when new. But that does not mean Detroit luxury SUVs are bargains. Instead, Detroit luxury SUVs are a joke in terms of quality and reliability whether they are 2004 models or 2014 models."
45 people out of 60 found this review helpful
By MamaVA on Monday, March 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Perfect car for all my needs and wants"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car has the luxury I need for clients, the funcationality as a "mom" car, seats my teenagers comfortably and knowing the car drives well and is very safe just makes it the perfect car for me."
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By GP on Friday, January 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Just bought the ML350 Bluetec 2014. Was a little anxous because of some of the negative reviews out there. However I am glad I stuck with my instict after test driving the car. It is a really nice car! Very quiet, smooth, and comfortable. The interior is nice and the diesel engine is just phenomenal. It starts slow but boy it catches up with the torque like a hot knife in butter. Also for a Diesel it is very quiet and had no problem starting in -10 degree weather. It is like having the power of a V8 engine and the fuel economy of V4. Cant beat it. Interior is very nice. Connectivity to bluetooth is very seamless and command system is very good though could be better. The only gripe I have is that not all diesel gas stations carry the B5 diesel(higher Biodiesel content clogs the filter and voids your warranty) which MB dealers dont tell you up front. However, I can live with that. Overall it is a very comfortable and elegant ride. if you are looking for sporty ride look at Porsche Cayenne. Though it is very expensive with the add ons compared to the ML. Test Drove BMW X5 too which is also nice but the interior feels cramped. Diesel ML was hands down the winner when I look at the whole package."
15 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By lcompy on Monday, September 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,550overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great ride, even better appearance"
Cons: "none that comes to mind"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Tested BMW, Lexus, Infinity, Audi, and Cadillac, gas engine all. Only the BMW could comparefavorably. Both more pricy than the others with same features, Leather not standard in either, but I actually prefer the leatherete, since it is more durable . ML performance equal to BMW, but ML won the day because I preferred the interior far better, especially having the shift contols on the steering column, allow more space for storage and beverages."
15 people out of 15 found this review helpful