By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
While the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class certainly has appeal as a rolling status symbol, in truth there is so much more to the M than just the iconic 3-pointed star on the hood. With a robust lineup, including diesel power and a high-performance AMG model, the M-Class demonstrates an ability to be all things to all customers. But it's what's under the M-Class' skin that really counts. Should the worst happen, a reinforced structure augmented by multiple safety and protection system helps to keep everyone safe. The M-Class can even venture off-road if asked, something not many luxury SUVs are equipped to do.
Most SUVs can promise a quiet interior and a smooth ride, but try and find one that can claim a 174-mph top speed on the autobahn or deliver up enough low-end torque to shame a Chevy pickup. With a 7,200-pound tow rating, the M-Class can actually carry its own weight and then some.
Like everything about the 2014 M-Class but its rather lofty price? Consider a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. The two vehicles share a common platform (a product of the former DaimlerChrysler merger) and the luxurious Jeep is equally capable. Those who require seating for seven will also have to look elsewhere.
For 2014, a few color and trim changes make up the majority differences from last year's M-Class crossover SUV. The Sport Styling Package formerly only available on the ML550 is now offered on the ML350 as well.
Driving Impressions There isn't a rut, bump or mud patch angry enough to unsettle the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class crossover SUV. Designed to deal with nature's worst while keeping its occupants cozy, the...... M-Class is also an enjoyable driver's car, especially with a V8 under the hood and sport suspension at the wheels. Although not as sporty as the BMW X5, the M-Class nevertheless is no slouch, especially in AMG form. An adjustable suspension allows drivers to choose between a smooth ride or an adventurous one, though we imagine most M-Class owners will leave it in the "comfort" setting. At freeway speeds, we found the M-Class's cabin thoroughly shuts out wind and road noise, and visibility is pretty good, although we'd still recommend the optional blind-spot monitoring system. Steering feels a tad light at lower speeds and isn't very communicative overall.
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 2014 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
Up front is a familiar grille that emphasizes the Mercedes-Benz emblem and sleek headlights that give the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class an appropriately modern look. Adding to the sportier appearance is a sculpted beltline running the sides. The rear benefits from a squat shape and taillights that are stretched horizontally, which give the 2014 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 2014 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 2014 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
Prices for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUVs range from roughly $49,000 for a base ML350 with rear drive to well over twice that for a fully-loaded ML63 AMG, which can reach over $122,000 with options. Keep in mind that option packages across the line can add thousands of dollars to any model. At these prices, the M-Class almost mirrors the BMW X5 series, which starts in base form at just over $48,000 and can reach more than $100,000 for a loaded X5 M. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers in your area are actually paying for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Down the road, the M-Class boasts excellent resale value, with the ML350 BlueTEC diesel version commanding the highest dollar.
By Geezer on Monday, November 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, mileage"
Cons: "Wipers sometimes a little spastic."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Had excellent experience with this vehicle. Fuel mileage remarkable for 5000 lb. vehicle. Comfort best of six SUVs I've owned."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
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."
18 people out of 32 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."
13 people out of 18 found this review helpful