The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class earns an above average Total Car Score for the Luxury SUVs & Crossovers segment.
This year the M-Class has been revised inside and out, with freshened exterior styling, a roomier interior, and engine choices that are both more powerful and more fuel efficient. All those new features hit the right notes with reviewers, who also praised the M-Class for its long list of active and passive safety equipment that includes optional Lane Assist and Blind-Spot Assist, plus the new Attention Assist, which will light up a coffee cup icon on the dash if it notices the driver is getting drowsy.
Mercedes is also among the first to offer an official iPad docking station (versus a simple USB cord) in a vehicle, a feature that debuts on the M-Class and rolls out to other vehicles later.
Not every feature in the new M-Class was loved, however. Even though this is considered a five-seat SUV, putting three adults in back is a tight squeeze. And some reviewers were not fond of Mercedes’ COMAND screen interface.
Critics also noted that the competition in this segment is heating up, with Japanese makers building worthy rivals to the M-Class that don’t carry the same premium price tag.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a four-door, five-passenger SUV that has been thoroughly revised for the new model year. At launch it is offered with a choice of gas or diesel six-cylinder engines; later in the year two gas V8 models will be added, including a supertuned M-Class AMG version (covered separately).
The M-Class comes with a lengthy list of standard equipment that includes a sunroof, powered lift gate, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate controls, a 7-inch display screen and an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/weatherband sound system with Bluetooth. Option packages add leather upholstery, satellite radio, a backup camera, hard-drive-based navigation system, keyless entry and bi-xenon headlamps, among other features.
The 3.5-liter gasoline V6 available in the new M-Class produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while the 3.0-liter V6 Bluetec turbodiesel is good for 240 hp and a stout 455 lb-ft -- output numbers that are all improved over last year. Both engines are backed by seven-speed automatic transmissions and Mercedes’ 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive system.
The EPA rated the gas-powered 2012 ML350 at 17 mpg city, 22 highway and 19 combined, while the diesel earned 20/27/22 ratings.
Properly equipped, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class can tow up to 7,200 pounds.
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