By KBB.com Editors
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV is a far cry from the original model. Whereas the first M-Class featured body-on-frame construction, the newest ML employs a unit-body design. This creates a stiffer chassis, which helps eliminate rattles and vibration as well as quiets the interior. The design also allows for a more sophisticated suspension, yielding better handling and a more civilized ride. Although it can seat five, the ML is most comfortable with four passengers. It offers a modest cargo bay of 29.4 cubic feet, which is more space than an Infiniti FX35, but less than offered by the Acura MDX. The M-Class' BlueTEC diesel engine option is unique in this class, and Mercedes-Benz promises the engine will meet all 50 state's stringent emissions standards.
If you're seriously shopping in the upscale SUV category and are drawn to the Lexus RX 350 and/or the BMW X5, you may very well find your new home away from home behind the wheel of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
If, like so many SUV buyers today, you'll settle for no fewer than three rows of seats, you'll have to look elsewhere. Mercedes-Benz does, however, offer a third-row seat in its slightly larger and pricer GL-Class SUV.
The M-Class receives some modest interior and exterior upgrades including a revised grille and headlamp treatment, four-way power-lumbar support for the driver and a new audio head unit. The PRE-SAFE preventative occupant protection system is made standard, as are newly designed 19- and 20-inch wheels.
Driving Impressions By having unibody construction instead of a ladder-frame platform the 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class transcends any comparison with the first generation M-Class. The highway ride is as smooth as you'd expect...from any of the automaker's stately sedans, with the added benefit of being able to negotiate large rocks (or parking blocks) with exceptional composure. It's this silkiness that makes the SUV's confidence-inspiring cornering ability just that much more impressive. While in a price-is-no-object world we would prefer the V8-powered ML550, the torque-happy ML320 BlueTEC is equally satisfying.
A long list of safety equipment includes traction and stability control, multiple airbags, active headrests and Mercedes-Benz's PRE-SAFE system that tightens seatbelts and closes windows when it senses an impending collision.
An optional air suspension allows for an extra three inches of ground clearance, while an active damping system lets you choose between Auto, Comfort and Sport settings, to best suit the road ahead.
Some of the first interior details you may notice are the large, circular air vents dominating the dash and the padded rails at the bottom of the center console that are more of an off-road touch than we expected from the more street-friendly 2009 M-Class. What you'll be forced to notice before moving the car an inch, however, is the dainty transmission selector stalk on the steering column. It removes the shifter from the center console and its operation, though not conventional, is easy to get used to. The seats are as comfortable as you'd expect, with a new four-way power adjustable lumbar support for the driver and a new four-spoke steering wheel with gearshift paddles. The roomy M-Class cabin delivers plenty of room for five adults, but only average cargo space behind its second-row seat.Exterior
The sleek 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML is a sharp looking ride and is particularly menacing when clad in AMG trappings. Body additions from AMG impart a sporty look, and the big 20-inch wheel and tire package is downright aggressive. A new front end treatment sees a wider grille and larger headlamps, along with stainless steel skid plates and larger side mirrors. Though larger in every way than the original ML, the current model retains a comfortable size that is as easy to manage in traffic as in confined parking situations.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML350 features a 3.5-liter V6, seven-speed automatic transmission, permanent all-wheel drive, automatic climate control, multimedia head unit with in-dash six-disc changer and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, cruise control, automatic headlamps, heated and auto-dimming exterior mirrors, multifunction 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.
In addition to its 5.5-liter V8 engine, the ML550 includes wood trim, the AMG trim package and other features. Additional options for all ML models are, for the most part, grouped into packages, but include an active-damping air suspension, DVD navigation, keyless entry and start, power liftgate, active bi-xenon headlights, Parktronic park assist, heated steering wheel and rear seats, rear-seat entertainment system and a harman/kardon premium six-disc audio system. For the lucky few, the ML63 AMG offers the ultimate in ML performance and luxury.
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 ML320 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.
268 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20
3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel
210 horsepower @ 3800 rpm
398 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-2400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24
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 Zero on Thursday, February 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Cons: "Expensive to repair..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"This is the second ML350 (first was an ML320)...and was relatively satisfied with both. Really liked the floor shifter on the 2002...column shift is adequate...but floor shifter was much more sporty. The 2002 has some AMG components...2006 was basic. I am (husband) is inheritating the 2006 when I give our granddaughter my 2009 Honda Accord. One thing...both ML's were fairly reliable. My wife is getting a 2014 Acura MDX...had enough MBs."
By gmason2200 on Thursday, February 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice styling, love the torque and 4 wheel drive"
Cons: "reliability is my biggest concern"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought this car used, so I don't know it's history. I've had it for 6 weeks, and had it at the dealership being repaired for almost 4 weeks. It seems complex and hard to repair even for MB dealer. Had to involve MB techs to solve problems. And then, the extended warranty - that's even a different problem. I'll see if I keep it now that I have it out of the shop. Has some great features - love the diesel. We'll see if I get to use them."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By bentleys antiques on Sunday, February 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 102,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great engine technology, power, economy, style,"
Cons: "wish mine had memory seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I am a long time Mercedes-Benz owner for over 30 years. I worked for Mercedes-Benz in the South-East. I bought my Ml320 CDI in 2008 and from day one, I use it like a truck. I do take care of it, and when something breaks, I see my mechanic immediately. Having said that, the key to happy ownership of a modern Mercedes-Benz is to have the right expectations of it going in. The Mercedes-Benz line-up has always been over-engineered from the start, and you can put a million miles on one, but none of them will get there if you don't do maintenance. So If you expect to drive for 5 years ad at the end you have only serviced it 2-3 times and changed the oil every 15000, is like feeding your child double cheese burgers very day till he is grown. neither of them are going to be happy with the outcome. so, Change the oil frequently, when something breaks, get it fixed, buy good fuel, keep it clean, and it will certainly take care of you.. in 102000 miles I have had the turbo rebuilt @ 70k, changed a couple of serpentine belts, changed the oil @ 8000 and replaced the oil filter every 4. I plan to drive my Diesel Ml 320 cdi to about 300,000 miles before I surrender it. an when I do, I intend to replace it with another!! My first Benz diesel took me 275000 before vanity got in the way and it was nowhere near the car I have today. So again, If you save and scrimp your dollars to save up for your 1st Mercedes Benz, and your expectations are that it is so well engineered that it will never break, You may be one of the owners giving Mercedes a bad customer report. however if you buy it, take care of it and enjoy it until it need service and then service it, you might jus might end up happy with it like me! Hope this was helpful! Bentleys Antiques"
By Jay on Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Outstanding performance in icy, snowy climates"
Cons: "Unfortunately a lot of minor/major things add up"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I was very harsh when I first reviewed this car a couple months ago. I'd like to take a step back from my frustration and add a few things. New York has had very severe weather this winter so far, and looks like it will be that way until the spring. I just bought myself a 2008 Lexus LS460 with rear wheel drive. Knowing that I have a 4matic Benz and a quattro Audi at home that I can drive whenever it snows, I was not concerned about getting to work. I have to admit, my entire opinion of the ML350 changed when I drove it in the snow. It turns into a completely different animal and it amazed me. In deep snow (12-16 inches), icy conditions, sleet, black ice, negative 10 degree weather, this car just about outperforms every car I have ever driven in these conditions. Amazing all weather performance. Throw decent tires on this car, and you have yourself a very capable SUV that can easily get you to work no matter what the weather is outside. Full control, and dont even worry about getting stuck, Ive taken this thing into 2-3 ft snow banks and gotten out with no sweat. If youre anything like me, you like to have fun in the snow as well. The ML is also great for that. On an open road with a few inches of snow, feel free to hit the traction control button, mash the gas and cut the wheel, and this will get you sideways in a completely controllable drift that can be reverted back straight at your will. Amazing. So I don't take back anything I said about this car, however my opinion of it is not all negative anymore. Another positive note I want to make is to say that this car is very reliable. I always had a feeling something would go wrong with it but nothing has. My friend has had 3 ML500's in his lifetime, and he swears by them, says they're bulletproof and only break down if purposely abused. Im starting to think hes right."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Jay on Monday, November 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks okay from the outside. Thats the only pro."
Cons: "Just about everything. Not many good things to say"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Growing up I always thought of Benz as being top of the line cars. I had driven various BMW's, Acura's, Jaguar's and a lot of other luxury brands and I've owned several Audi's a Lexus and an Infiniti, but never drove or had a Mercedes for whatever reason, and always thought since Mercedes is more popular and more expensive that it must be better than all those aforementioned brands. But I didn't drive one until I was much older and wow. What a disappointment. The first Benz I ever drove was a friends grandmother's 2011 Mercedes C300 4matic. What a perfect grandma car. I was so unimpressed by the performance and overall quality but I brushed that off because after all it is the cheapest of all Mercedes. But I still expected better. Then my father decided to buy an SUV on a whim and without looking at other cars decided to get the 09 ML350 Benz. And this car must have no options because its honestly a joke. What a mistake. Let me start: - Car has horrible, I repeat HORRIBLE steering. Not sure if my specific ML has this problem but it is so loose and sloppy that when driving curvy roads I don't even feel confident in which way the car will go. - Cars buttons are all plastic and break easily. My sunroof button has broken twice already. - No key-less push button start. Most other brands in this price range offer that feature standard. My 09 Audi A5 is almost fully loaded and doesn't have keyless entry..but that's an Audi..this is a Mercedes..isn't Mercedes supposed to be better? - Does my ML have a faulty transmission? I hope its just mine because this car shifts so poorly, feels like its never in the right gear, revs high at times for no reason. Really jumpy tranny and just makes the driving experience bad. - Everything squeaks/rattles. Sunroof squeaks loud as it opens every time. Hit a bump and you're guaranteed to hear squeaks and rattles from some part of the car. - Bad headlights. Halogen bulbs are weak and dingy. In my opinion any car in this price range especially a Mercedes should have Xenon headlights standard. - Car has 3-stage heated front seats but they turn off gradually as time goes by. They start at 3 then go to 2 then 1..why? Anyone? - The navigation system is slow to use and really seems like its made for the passenger to use while the driver focuses on the road. If you have to play with the navigation while you're driving it could easily be a hazard. - Is this a luxury SUV? Why are there vents in the back seat? Oh, the rear vents are only for air conditioning? Is that a joke? So during the winter either I have to blast heat on myself in order for my rear passengers have heat or they have to freeze when I turn the heat off because Im sweating? Why dont they have their own controls? There's not even a wheel back there to open and close the vents, that has to be done from the front seat. Bad design. - Under the main screen in the middle there are two mini drawers. The main top draw I like. It gives the car a nice living room feel type of feel. It opens and closes smoothly, is a good size and its very convenient. One problem. The drawer underneath that is the ashtray and car lighter. Lets say you want to charge your cell phone, okay, you plug your car charger into the cigarette lighter and leave that ashtray drawer open and there you go..but the car charger sticking up makes it impossible for the main drawer above it to open more than halfway and becomes useless. So make your pick, you can either have access to the top drawer or charge your cell phone, you can't have both. Once again, very poor design. - Two electrical problems I've had since I got the car two years ago 1. Replaced three brake lights (since there are three mini sections that make up each of the taillights it gets annoying to have to replace each one as they go) 2. Power trunk completely stopped working and until getting it fixed it was almost completely useless. - The harmon/kardon system in this car is not bad. But please go into my Audi and listen to the Bang&Olufsen system in there and tell me its not better than this harmon/kardon. Then go into my Infiniti G37x and tell me that it's Bose system is not better than BOTH of these German car's sound systems. I can't make this stuff up. Not on the same level. Of the three, the Bose is the best, the Bang&Olufsen is a close second, and the Benz Harmon/Kardon is by far the worst of the three. - Everything inside is overly confusing to use. Good luck with that giant baseball bat of a turn signal knob. I dont know why they put so many controls and switches on one knob that you can't even see with the large boat like steering wheel in the way. - Back-up camera is poor quality. Always seems like there is glare blocking your view during the day. Backup camera's in my Lexus, Audi, and Infiniti are better. Let's say you get in your car and the music is on, but you dont want to hear it so you press the power button for the radio. Then the whole screen shuts off. Put the car in reverse, and you get no Backup camera. You then have to put the car back in park, turn on the system, manually turn down the volume of the music (since you dont want to hear it), then hit reverse again to get the backup camera to go on. Poor design. - Seats are pretty stiff, not comfortable on long trips, and the drivers seat has lumbar but not very adjustable at all. You cant get the lumbar to hit your lower back for some reason it just doesnt go down that far. Makes it pretty useless. Oh yea, and passenger side lumbar? Nope. This is a luxury car though right? You're starting to get how I feel about this vehicle. Its just lacking. So far my two Mercedes experiences have been just bad in every way. I ask myself all the time why there are so many ML350's on the road, the older ones, and especially the newer ones with that hideous new body style. I cant even imagine it being any uglier. I will say that I test drove a 2010 S550 recently and it was impressive. Not even close to the C300 or ML350. Definitely a far better car in every way shape and form and I could tell just from a 10 minute test drive. Im sure if I end up buying it, it will change the way I feel about Mercedes. So I'm not done with Benz at all, I still think they have great looking cars for the most part and they without a doubt get better as you go up the chain of models and classes. But why would anyone get this car over the BMW x5? I can see how this car attracts people but seriously I can't see how this car gets chosen over the X5. So we have a lot of regret there. As far as the Audi Q5/Q7 goes, couldn't tell you how they compare to the ML because I havent driven them, and the same goes for the Lexus RX350 and GX model. But I can say that my friend had the Acura MDX and I drove it a few times, seems like a better car and definitely is a better performer although its exterior looks aren't as sharp as the ML, and from being inside the RX350 a few times I know that the interior on that car is more convenient and more comfortable. And I can say hands down, because my brother has a beautiful 2011 X5 x35i with the M pacakge, that the X5 is better than the ML is just about every way. Save yourself the frustration of buying this far from adequate Mercedes."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By NomoreMB4me on Thursday, October 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 76,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "Too many to mention"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"My 1st and last MB First it was the drivers side electric door opener that went. Then it was the rear right blinker LED light. Then a few days later the left rear winder lever (cheap plastic) snaps off in my hand as I lowered the window!! I AM NEVER EVER GOING TO BUY ANOTHER OVERPRICED MB AGAIN!!!! MBUSA's answer to my complaint since I am over the 50K warranty miles is they will give me a deal on my less than 3 year old ML350 to trade-in for a new MB. YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!!!!"
10 people out of 11 found this review helpful