There is so much to get excited about on the 2013 Mercedes M-Class ML350 SUV, and a lot of it is under the hood. The industry’s very first seven-speed automatic transmission features standard paddle shifters so you can enjoy the control of a manual, if you choose. This innovative transmission mates with an efficient 3.5-liter V6 engine to deliver 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. As a rear-wheel drive, the ML350 returns 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. While this is not overly exciting, it is certainly better than some other luxury sport utility vehicles in this class. Despite its smaller V6 engine, towing capacity is more than impressive at 7,200 pounds, when properly equipped. A 4MATIC all-wheel drive system is available, as is an On/Off-Road Package that offers a six-mode driving program selector. As for the ride, it is as smooth and quiet as you would expect from Mercedes, thanks to its four-wheel independent suspension. It does feel a little soft when you accelerate, but some people may not even notice. On the downside, the all-electric steering system is disappointing, as is the amount of body roll when cornering.
• Audio - The Harman Kardon LOGIC7® System features 13 premium speakers, a subwoofer, 830 watts of power, USB port and MP3 capabilities.
• COMAND - The COMAND system operates through the 7-inch LCD screen that offers audio controls, hands-free calling, video and controls the optional navigation system.
• Navigation - An optional 80GB hard drive navigation offers detailed driving directions, 3D maps, gas station information and more. You can even store points of interest, maps, etc. SiriusXM Traffic and Weather is also available.
• Rear Seat Entertainment - At the back of the head restraints is where you will find the LCD monitors for this optional technology features. It includes dual wireless remotes and two wireless headsets for watching movies or playing video games.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rarely does crash testing on the M-Class, however brake testing was done on last year’s model, and the ML350 stopped from 60 mph in only 114 feet, a respectable distance. The 2013 model should fall right in line. Passengers are kept safe with nine airbags that offer 11-way occupant protection. Other safety features include:
• Collision prevention assist
• Trailer sway control
• Active parking assist
• Attention assist driver-drowsiness monitor
• Active lane keeping assist
• Blind spot assist
• Rear view camera
• Post collision response
• Night security illumination
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Electronic stability program
• Rain-sensing wipers
• Brake drying
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Traction control
• Dusk sensing headlamps
• Engine immobilizer
• Child seat anchors
With its sporty yet sophisticated styling, it has hard not to be instantly attracted to the ML350. From its stunning headlamps and iconic grille to the rugged slope of the roof and optional 20-inch Twin five-spoke wheels, this is a ride that will turn heads on the road for all the right reasons.
The cabin of the ML350 is as luxurious as you would expect. Seating for five is offered with unparalleled comfort and stunning design, with two-tone upholstery, metallic accents and optional Eucalyptus or Burl walnut wood. If you have been in other Mercedes vehicles, you will instantly notice a softness in the ML350 as the dash is substantially rounder than its relatives. As for passenger room, although there is no third row, both front and rear seat passengers will have no trouble getting cozy with all the leg and headroom provided.
Cargo space in the M-Class ML350 is average. Behind the rear seat you have a generous 36 cubic feet. When the rear seat is folded flat, a total of 71 cubes are opened up.