"On a whim I bought my 2003 ML 350 as a second car since I needed an SUV. My other car is a brand new 2015 Hyundai Sonata sport. Since owning this car, I actually drive the Mercedes more than the Hyundai. The ML is well designed and even though it is 13 years old, the build quality is so high I actually feel like I am driving a brand new car. The gas mileage is horrible due to it being an AWD vehicle. When it snows however, the AWD drive system is absolutely amazing. We recently received two feet of snow and I did not even have to shovel before I drove away. While others were snowed in or waiting for the snow plows to come, I was able to get out of the space I parked in and made it to work with no problems.
Repairs are very expensive at the dealer but I was lucky enough to find an amazing local mechanic who only uses OEM Mercedes-Benz parts and does the repairs for significantly less. After I first bought the ML, I did take it to a Mercedes-Benz dealer to have a full inspection and service "A" completed. They did find a host of things wrong, that the dealership I bought it from neglected to mention (I'm not surprised). The estimate from the Mercedes dealer to fix everything was $8,700.00, the actual price I paid my local mechanic to fix everything was about $5,000.00. The labor rates at my Mercedes dealer were $150.00 p/hr.
oil changes are expensive regardless where you go. The dealer charges $150.00, my mechanic $125.00. The plus side though, if you properly maintain a Mercedes, it will last you forever. The service manager at the Mercedes dealership told me an M-Class came in with 275,000 miles on it and he bought it without any reservation because it was properly maintained. He also told me that they have a customer who regularly comes in for routine maintenance and that ML320 has 475,000 miles on it and is still going strong.
There a few things that are wonky such as the cup holders being made of thin plastic, or the fabric skirts that go around the back legs of the rear seats which are pointless or the fact a replacement fob is $200.00. If you ever need a replacement fob you better have proof of ownership, identity and all of your paperwork in order or the dealership will not allow you to buy a new one. You also better keep your address updated with Mercedes-Benz Customer Care, because if there is a different address in their system from what is on your license, you will be denied. If you give the car to someone else or buying used, change the ownership information with Mercedes Customer Care. This goes for all Mercedes Benz not purchased at a Mercedes-Benz dealer.
I would highly recommend one of these to anyone who wants a high quality, superbly built SUV. If however you cannot afford the repair bills and you cannot afford to use premium unleaded gasoline, do not buy this vehicle or any German car for that matter. These cars will last but you need to take good care of them. if you are handy and or love to work on cars, this Mercedes actually is perfect for you since parts are cheap. If you are handy but have limited experience working on a car, there are many things you can do yourself with the help of You Tube. I changed my air filter and cabin filter as well as a few other little ticky tack things."
"MY 2001 ML 320 IS AN EXCELLENT CAR. I HAVE DRIVEN THIS CAR EVERYDAY SINCE NEW AND HAD 72K MILES CITY/HWY MILES COMBINED. I HAVE THE REGULAR SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE OF THIS CAR PERFORMED BY MY MERCEDES BENZ DEALER. I HAVE NEVER HAD ANY PROBLEMS WITH THIS CAR. THAT IS BECAUSE I TAKE CARE OF THIS CAR. PROBLEMS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS CAUSED BY NEGLECTED CAR MAINTENANCE. MY ML IS VERY RELIABLE, FUN TO DRIVE, NICE INTERIOR/EXTERIOR WITH LOTS OF ROOM AND FEATURES. FRONT AND REAR AIR BAGS, PERFORMS GREAT AND GREAT VALUE. THE RIDE IS A BIT STIFF BUT VERY COMFORTABLE. THE ORIGINAL SET OF GENERAL TIRES LASTED 50K MILES. THE FRONT BRAKE PADS WAS REPLACED AT 45K AND REAR PADS AT 62K. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE ML. IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD NEW BUY A CERTIFIED PRE-OWNED ML WITH LOW MILEAGE AND EXTENDED WARRANTY FROM A MERCEDES BENZ DEALER AND YOU WILL BE DRIVING WORRY FREE AND SAVE MONEY ON DEPRECIATION."
"I am the second owner of the vehicle and it has only left me stranded twice in four years, and those were not because the engine stopped. One was from a broken coolant tank causing overheating and the other was a powersteering pully. Other things that have been wrong with the vehicle have been mostly regular maintenance items except for the drive shaft problem that was just fixed in the last two weeks. This car is driven quite a bit and I was told that this was a major problem for this vehicle because of the power it has and not having a single way drive shaft. Mercedes decided to put a dual drive shaft in with a converter box that does not handle the power of the 268hp engine. If you want a not so expensive mercedes that looks great this is the car for you as long as you know that there will be some money spent on the repairs."
"Mercedes Benz seems to have put the ML320 together with a bunch of ideas that didn't quite have the bugs worked out. Funky things large and small routinely go wrong, and fixing them is super expensive. Brakes, for example, are out of sight. The rear cross member on ours has all but rusted off, which is a problem because that's what the trailer hitch is bolted to. And you can't get it aligned without a $$dealer$$, who, of course, has proprietary part$ and machine$, and, in my case, is 90 minutes away. When it's working, it's a great car- drives and handles great-lots of power and lots of interior space. It sports some ingenious seat stowage. The AWD is nice. The driver ergonomics are well-done. I'd be much more inclined to get another one if it wasn't so expensive to keep in good repair."
"I purchased the MB in 2000 and now have 155000 miles under my belt. It has been very reliable. Support has been great with three repairs done by MB for free, long after 100,000 miles. It still looks good, runs good, and handles all the snow Utah can deliver. This has been a great car. I plan to drive it until the wheels fall off."
"My Ml is a tank. I love it.
Burns more gas than I like but well built and reliable.
I just had an accident where I ran over a large cement block that had fallen from a truck at 45MPH
The ML rolled over it, causing damage to the underside of the floor and door. Nothing wrong with the frame or driveline.
Another car would have been road-kill.
If you can find one for under $10K with less than 100K miles - BUY IT!"
"Amazingly out performs sports sedans, powerful, responsive, stable, etc.
Had this ML500 for just over a year, roomy, safe & comfortable on long trips, sporty and responsive as my 5 series BMW! I can tell those who had bad luck with the ML's, get a good mechanic and in the long run, yes it costs more to perform repairs/maint but not as often as many other cars, so it's a wash! One thing that shocked me was the low re-sale value, good for pre-owned shoppers!"
"Purchased my 2001 ML320 new and had all maintenance done on schedule at dealership. Loved the car, the ride, everything. But once it fell out of warranty had all the named problems: fuel sensors, window regulators, brakes, brakes, brakes, engine light, broken arm on moonroof. Traded in because I was fearful of the electrical diagnostic and costs. Every time I see one, I want to get another, but just leary of maintenance issues. Also, like another reviewer comment, service guy at dealership said he'd never own an M Class because of issues he sees everyday. Got Acura MDX reliable as the day is long, but a much bigger vehicle."
"I drove my 2002 ML320 out of the dealership with 8 miles on it. That was nearly 15 years ago and I'm stunned with Mercedes' quality on every level. Interior is still perfect; leather is supple and beautiful. The Bose sound upgrade was worth every penny:) At 90k miles, its engine is just getting going and drives perfectly. I've loved this car, and it surely has loved me back."
"I HAVE OWNED THIS CAR SINCE 2008 AND BOUGHT IT WITH 80,000 MILES ON IT. I HAVE REPAIRED A FEW THINGS LIKE 2 OXYGEN SENSORS AND REPLACED THE BRAKE PEDAL SWITCH TWICE, BUT OVERALL WITH RELIABILITY I HAVE NOT HAD ANY PROBLEMS. IT IS A GREAT CAR. AT AROUND 100,000 MILES, RUST STARTED SHOWING UP BY THE WHEELS. IT IS AWD, SO IT DOES WASTE MORE GAS. I AM GETTING ABOUT 14 CITY AND 19-20 HWY. IT IS A 13 YEAR OLD CAR, SO THINK ABOUT THAT. IT IS GREAT IN THE SNOW, NEVER GOT STUCK ANYWHERE. GREAT PERFORMANCE FOR A 3.2 LITER. TREAT THE CAR WITH FULLY SYNTHETIC OIL AND PREMIUM GAS, WHICH I ALWAYS HAVE. AND THIS CAR WILL LAST YOU A LONG TIME. I HAVE TO CHANGE SOME TIE ROD ENDS RIGHT NOW, BUT I MEAN THE CAR HAS 130,000 MILES AND THEY ARE ORIGINAL."
"140,000 miles withot any major repair other than brakes, fluids changes and maintenances requirements, with long trips around the country including Canada.
Extremely reliable, lot of power and traction, great performance, very safe/secure, all amenities,comfort and requirements for long winter or summers trips."
"I love this car. It is the first car I have ever owned that I would go back and buy another one. I guess its true once you drive a Mercedes you never go back. I would highly recommend to anyone who want a SUV that drives like a sports car with plenty of power."
Pros: "tight steering, comfortable seats, great dashboard"
Cons: "CD player in the back"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am back a year later (August 2010) to say that as soon as my ML hit 100,000 miles on it, I did begin to have some problems. Little things here and there but enough to cause the car to be out of commission for days at a time-in the shop. Lights come on for no reason and that makes me nervous. I thought that I could keep her longer but I am not sure. I do love my car but hate car trouble. A Mercedes Benz "expert" told me that these trucks are not trouble free and that the sedans and cars are made better. It will be a sad day when I have to get rid of this car but I travel a lot and can't be stuck on the side of the road. Trying to hang in there......"
"I love my ML320 I've driven over 100,000 miles in it. It is very good off road with the 4x4. But at the same time its a Mercedes-Benz. I like how it has a removable 3rd seat incase i need to seat 7. I would very much recomend this car to most people!"
"This is my second ML and I'll surely own another. I've driven 94000 miles and had no mechanical issues other than routine maintenance, 1 set of brakes and 2 sets of tires. It still drives tight and feels solid. I usually get bored with my cars after a few months but can't say that about this car or the 99 ML 320 that I had"
"I really enjoy this ML320 on road trips. So comfortable and heated seats. Plenty of room for everything. It has a sterling reliability record with me at least.
I have hauled stuff that should have been in my Sport Trac, fertilizer and dirt(in bags).
Well, we loaded it with Pine Straw once and got about 12 bales in it. I don't reccomend this as it was a chore cleaning it out, then again, it is a body on frame truck. I have had other MBs before and they seemed to like the shop, but not this one, RELIABLE. And it is fun off road, actually quit a cushy off roader, but it is capable on all you throw at it. I highly recommend a 02 or newer ML320 to anyone."
"Nice driving/handling vehicle but flimsy/easily broken interior plastic parts/trim replacement is expensive out of warranty. Kind of a dog off the line with the 6 cylinder, and I've only ever been able to get 18mpg highway, in town 14mpg. But it's an incredibly safe vehicle--has 10(!) air bags, and hauls quite a bit of gear with the rear seats folded flat."
"Bought this used (it had been a lease)and here I am 6 years later, loving it still. Okay, it is expensive to fix but the comfort and the safety I feel is worth it. No major mechanical problems exccept one recall that I didn't pay for. Driving it in TX in the heat and it runs great. Towed a trailer from OR to TX w/o any problems and is the best car I have ever owned, altho my 1987 300D Turbo, still in the family, is running strong as well. Love, love, love my car. :)"
Cons: "CD has to be loaded in the rear cargo space."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased our ML 320 new. For the first year I would not have given 2 cents for this car, the Germans apparently didn't understand electricity any better than the English; however, after replacing all of the electronics, about half under warranty and half I paid, it has been a very good car. At 145,000 miles it runs better today than when new. At our elevation, 5,000 ft, the engine is under powered. The 350 fixed this problem. We are going to purchase a new car within the next 6 months and the new M Class will definitely be on my shopping list."
"I ve owned this baby for over 10 yrs and a 110,000 miles. Be forewarned, tons of big bills at every maintenance visit. Comp this to other cars that work without big bills from your garage guy. 170,000 to 250,000 is normal for Japanese cars without big issues. Brakes need work often, tyres - same, oil leaks, engine management of course takes the cake."
"It runs great, the only problem was having to get a new key. The old keyless entry stopped working and a new key is not cheap, about 200.00 dollars. In addition breaks are expensive. However the vehicle was made to go longer inbetween oil changes, breaks and tuneups, so the cost averages out to be the same of a normal vehicle. Also gas is not that bad. I drove 700 miles and kept it above a half a tank. With gas at 2.60 a gal the 700 miles cost me 75 dollars. I did not go above 60mph though, I was in Michigan UP on 2 for hours and in the back part of Wisconsin, the speed limit through there is 55mph. It was a long trip but the SUV was very comfortable. This vehicle is good value, you can buy a chevy suburban for the same price and the suburban will break down 100,000 miles before the Mercedes. Not to mention the suburban would cost more in gas. I just think that the price for a key should be less and the price for a few other things on the mercedes."
Just drove from Boston to Longboat Key. At 85 mph I got 22.5 MPG! This beast is about to turn 170,000 miles. I expect to get an additional 100,000 miles with regular full synthetic oil changes
Only wish M.B. had included a transmission dip stick
Buy your parts on line and save
Very comfortable lots of room for me and my 2 dogs"
"I have owned my SUV since 2003 and spent way too much money on cosmetic and mechancial problems. The drivers seat came apart, the fabric peeled off of the window post, and numerous mechancial issues that are not your general maintenance. I have spent $1200 since September on non maintenance repairs, along with others in the last 4 years and was told this week that I am needing a $2000 repair. I thought that MB were reliable with less maintenance, what a joke. Never again will I own one."
"I purchased my 2003 ML350 3 years ago. It was a 24 month lease return with just over 20000 miles. 3 years and 45 thousand miles later this little truck is still driving like new. I have added a towing hitch. I regularly tow a desert truck with an atv mounted on the truck, Combined the weigh is about 3500 pounds. The little V6 tow with ease at highway speed of 75mph. It still has the OEM tires. Last time they were rotated I was told that the tires had about 35% of their life left. The only things that I have done to the ML are A and B services, replaced the front roters at 45000 miles when the front and rear brakes were replaced, replaced brake fluid, replace coolant and had a power stearing line break(recall item). Oh yea and here in AZ the land of high insurace prices the ML is very cheap to insure. I don't know why. I forgot I also had to straighen the tire rack, it got bent while off-road, coming off a mountain it got hung up on a large rock."