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 lcompy (CA) 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."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Techdog (TX) on Saturday, September 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,800overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Exterior Design, Cargo space, Interior room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I leased this vehicle in December 2012 and it's been a disaster: 1) Car "clanks" when you start it. Mercedes pretty much had to rebuild the motor to get it to stop doing it. They said it was a "known" problem without a fix. It wasn't until I threatened them with the Texas Lemon law that they actually fixed the problem. My wife's E350 convertible has the same problem. 2) AC smells like body odor. They did a "complimentary" $250 treatment on the car to get rid of the smell. It still smells and Park Place Motor Cars in Dallas still can't resolve the problem. 3) Transmission is doing double down-shifts. When breaking or taking your foot of the gas the transmission lurches you forward. Park Place still unable to fix it. 4) Passenger and Driver seats move slightly on turns, which is incredibly annoying. Park Place still unable to fix it. I'm following through with Lemon Paperwork on this vehicle. Stay away!"
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By BamaBenz (GA) on Friday, May 31, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, turbo V8 power, quiet, refined inter"
Cons: "Rear wiper switch"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have the ML550, the V8, after a 2008 and 2010 ML 350. I love this car. The interior is more E-class, whereas the previous generation was more C-class. The sound of the parking brake release, turn signals, door locks -- all very refined and quieter. Graphics, both instrument cluster and COMAND, much improved and incredibly sharp. Quiet on the road, good ride and handling. The twin turbo V8 is a blast! My only complaint -- it's very hard to get a single swipe of the rear wiper the way the switch is configured. I've owned 3 German Mercedes (2 E-class, 1 CLK) and the MLs absolutely beat them in quality."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By ML Family (FL) on Monday, March 25, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quality build, safety, available options, drive"
Cons: "Gas mileage (only sllightly)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am a stickler for research to be sure. I do this so I can be sure to get the best value for my money. My wife finds this frustrating but in the end I know I have what I want. That said, I researched all the European and Asian options and found the ML 350 to be the best value on the market. In fact, I just purchased my second one. I have been a BMW man for almost 20 years. My 2010 535i was an awesome sports car but lacked the space I needed. In my opinion the Japanese options just weren't up to the quality standards of the Germans. They just felt really light weight compared to the Europeans. The Audi was more like the Asians than the German's. I liked the BMW X5's handling a little better than the ML's but only slightly. Other than that, the ML won on all counts. Mercedes-Benz offers a great list of options for this vehicle. I got my first ML back in Sept. 2012 and now have a second one. My second one has ALL the options and they work as described. Gas mileage isn't so hot but if you calculate the cost of the ML compared to the competition it's only a little higher. Another factor that moved me to a second Mercedes is the service. When I recently had service done on my BMW 535i, the BMW dealership gave me a Toyota Yaris as a loner (REALLY???)."
11 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By MCJ (CA) on Saturday, November 24, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ride, acceleration, dynamics, styling."
Cons: "Annoying ergonomics, balky transmission."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Bought a 2013 ML350 4Matic in Sep 2012 as an addition to a '97 4Runner SR5 (manual transmission!) and '02 Pathfinder SE. It has the P01 package, Harman Kardon Logic7 sound, MB-tex, and AWD. Readers be aware that for 2013, there are both 2WD and AWD versions. .. Pros: Comfortable, controlled ride, which is impressive as it weighs about 1200 lbs (!) more than my 4Runner. Acceleration is strong, but requires premium fuel. Quiet at highway speeds. Interior pleather feels like real leather. Steering is very light but accurate, not floaty. Easy to drive long distances in this thing. Upgraded sound system is excellent from an audio standpoint, clunky ergonomics aside. Better than my Infinity/Alpine aftermarket setup in my 4Runner. .. Cons: There are multiple ergonomic and electronic quirks that are very annoying if these things are important to you. 1) Backup camera only functions when radio is on. Why?!? 2) Shifter is on the steering column where the wiper stalk usually is. Takes a lot of getting used to. 3) There are 4 different button clusters for audio controls (2 on steering wheel, one on upper console, one on lower console) but only ONE location (and the hardest to reach) will allow you to do adjust both volume and track +/- at the same time. Some buttons (e.g. the "disc" button) do not do what they say they do. 4) Navigation is inferior to both Garmin and TomTom. It will guide you the wrong way on one-way streets and otherwise get you lost. 5) Balky transmission, especially from a stoplight. Transmission does not drop down to 1st promptly, so when you start again, the transmission is caught off-balance in 2nd or 3rd. The subsequent hesitation followed by "clunk" and "screech!" scares both the driver and passengers. .. Overall, this is a very comfortable, mechanically sound car. But the ergonomic quirks and balky transmission are not acceptable in a car of this price. Toyota and Honda gets this right in their plebian models -- what's wrong with MB?"
53 people out of 56 found this review helpful
By DailyDrvr (CT) on Monday, November 19, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "mpg, quiet, comfortable, great travel vehicle"
Cons: "maybe voice recognition"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Dead on reliable SUV. I have had it for a year and other than an initial concern, the ML has not had any quality or mechanical issues. It is quiet, drives well and it has recorded up to 34 MPG, though averages around 26. It is setup to tow 7200 lbs and has pulled a covered trailer with two motorcycles while getting 21 MPG. All aspects are great, with the exception of the current voice recognition/phone dialer. Sometimes it really wants to call someone other than the one asked to contact. It is very quiet once underway with no diesel sound. The only way someone knows it is diesel is when it first starts out."
14 people out of 14 found this review helpful