For not much more money, it is hard not to rationalize going with the 2013 Mercedes M-Class ML550 4MATIC SUV over its ML350 sibling. The increased power of the engine alone is worth the extra expense. A 4.6-liter V8 engine produces an impressive 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. This strong engine mates with an innovative seven-speed automatic transmission that features paddle shifters for manual-style control when preferred. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive is always engaged. It incorporates traction and stability control systems to ensure torque goes to the wheel that has the best grip. The steering is responsive and the ride is compliant without at all feeling overly floating. The only complaint is that there is a bit more body roll when cornering than you might expect.
• Audio - A powerful Harman Kardon LOGIC7® surround sound offers 13 premium speakers, one subwoofer, in-dash CD player and MP3 capabilities.
• SiriusXM Satellite Radio - More than 130 channels of digital entertainment are complemented by SiriusXM Traffic and Weather that works well with the navigation system.
• Navigation - Zagat survey ratings are included with the 80GB hard drive navigation system. This makes use of the crystal clear 7-inch LCD screen to provide 3D maps, directions, ATM locations, gas prices and more.
• COMAND - The Cockpit Management and Data System gives you control of audio, hands-free calling, video and optional navigation functions.
• Rear Seat Entertainment - Rear seat passengers stay entertained with two LCD screens placed in the back of the front head restraints. Wireless headphones and remotes allow them to watch movies and play video games.
Crash tests have not been performed on the 2013 ML550 4MATIC SUV. In fact, they haven’t been done for many years, if ever. The line does have a solid reputation, when it comes to brake testing though, and with the long list of safety features, you are sure to feel peace-of-mind behind the wheel. Just a few of the many safety features includes:
• Child seat anchors
• Collision prevention assist
• Trailer sway control
• Engine immobilizer
• Dusk sensing headlamps
• Active parking assist
• Attention assist driver-drowsiness monitor
• Traction control
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Brake drying
• Active lane keeping assist
• Blind spot assist
• Rain-sensing wipers
• Electronic stability program
• Rear view camera
• Post collision response
• Night security illuminator
• Tire pressure monitoring
The 2013 ML550 4MATIC SUV is a good-looking sport utility vehicle. It is sporty without looking like it is trying too hard yet it is sophisticated enough to attract an array of buyers. The grille turns black rather than chrome and the privacy glass, handsome wheels and sloped roof add subtle focal points.
Seating for five is offered with a ton of leg and headroom in both rows. However, the rear seat is more accommodating to two passengers rather than three. The seats all around are leather, cushioned and supportive. One of the first things you notice when you enter the cabin is the high-quality materials throughout. The hand-polished Burl walnut wood trim provides a refined appeal while the curved dash offers a softness. Controls and gauges are all thoughtfully placed, and even the COMAND center is easy to use. It is really hard to find much fault with this interior.
The ML550 4MATIC grants the 36 cubic feet behind the rear seat, which is more than enough for most people. Fold the seat down and you get 71 cubes, which is average for this segment.