Premium midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $17,000 – $65,500*

2006 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class

  • Acceleration
  • Cargo room
  • Control layout and materials
  • Passenger room and comfort
  • Quietness
  • Fuel economy (except diesel)
  • Ride (low-speed bumps)

Around-town ride comfort isn’t quite up to par. Overall, though, the highly refined, rock-solid, and engaging-to-drive M-Class is what a premium midsize five-passenger SUV ought to be. New-car base prices have been very competitive, but could grow daunting as options are added. Fairly strong resale value tends to keep secondhand prices on the high side, though AMG models depreciate faster.


Mercedes-Benz redesigned its midsize sport-utility vehicle for 2006, giving it more power and larger dimensions, but with seating for five instead of seven. M-Class construction switched from truck-type body-on-frame to car-type unibody. Compared to the 1998-2005 version, the wheelbase grew by 4 inches, while the body measured 6 inches longer and 3 inches wider.

Equipped with standard all-wheel drive, Mercedes’ M-Class rivaled the Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX, and Lexus RX. The V6-engine ML350 and V8-powered ML500 versions returned. In the ML350, a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 replaced a 232-hp 3.7-liter. The ML500’s 5.0-liter V8 now produced 302 horsepower, versus 288 in the prior generation.

A seven-speed automatic replaced a five-speed as the sole transmission. Both MLs had all-wheel drive without low-range gearing.

Antilock four-wheel disc brakes and antiskid/traction control were standard. The ML350 had 17-inch wheels, while the ML500 rode on 18-inch rubber; 19-inchers were available for both.

Front side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags were standard. Rear side airbags were available. MLs had a 60/40 split folding rear seat and a liftgate without separate-opening glass. For 2006, the shift lever moved from the center console to the steering column.

Standard on ML500 and optional for ML350 was leather upholstery and wood/aluminum interior trim. Available for both were a navigation system, steering-linked xenon headlamps, and Mercedes’ Tele-Aid assistance.

Yearly Updates

2007 M-Class
New diesel-engine and high-performance models bowed for 2007. The new ML320 CDI used a 215-horsepower turbodiesel V6, while the ML63 held a gas V8 that generated 503 horsepower. All models had a seven-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes’ Pre-Safe system, which prepares the occupants and vehicles for an impending collision, was an option.
2008 M-Class
Replacing the ML500 and its 5.0-liter 302-horsepower V8 for ’08 was the ML550 with a 5.5-liter 382-horsepower V8. Also for ’08, the ML550 gained an AMG appearance package similar to what was standard on the ML63.
2009 M-Class
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class received slightly freshened styling, a new diesel powerplant, and a new rear-drive model. The new ML320 BlueTEC had a 210-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 available in all 50 states. New for 2009 was a rear-drive ML350. Also for 2009, all M-Class models received Mercedes’ PRE-SAFE safety system that senses an impending collision and tightens the seatbelts and moves the front passenger seat to a safer position. PRE-SAFE also closes an open sunroof if a rollover is detected. DVD entertainment was also offered, along with a newly available audio unit with voice control that combined a wireless cell-phone link and 6-disc CD/DVD changer. The new audio unit had optional features such as a navigation system with real-time traffic updates, HD radio, MP3 connectivity, and a hard drive that could store 4 gigabytes of digital music files.
2010 M-Class
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz M-Class lineup gains a gas/electric hybrid model. The 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 HYBRID pairs a 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor for 335 horsepower.
2011 M-Class
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is largely unchanged.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

Mercedes’ ML350 had a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, whereas the ML500 got a 5.0-liter V8 that developed 302 horsepower. A new high-performance ML63 model joined for 2007, with a 503-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. Also new for 2007 was a turbodiesel-powered ML320 CDI, whose V6 engine produced 215 horsepower. All models used a seven-speed automatic transmission. Replacing the ML500 and its 5.0-liter 302-horsepower V8 for ’08 was the ML550 with a 5.5-liter 382-horsepower V8. The new-for-2009 ML320 BlueTEC had a 210-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 available in all 50 states. The new-for-2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 HYBRID paired a 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor for 335 horsepower.

Turbodiesel dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)3.0/182
Engine HP210
Engine Torque (lb-ft)400
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


Turbodiesel dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)3.0/182
Engine HP215
Engine Torque (lb-ft)398
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic



dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)3.5/213
Engine HP268
Engine Torque (lb-ft)258
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic



dohc V6/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)3.5/214
Engine HP268
Engine Torque (lb-ft)258
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
CVT automatic

ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)5.0/303
Engine HP302
Engine Torque (lb-ft)339
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)5.5/333
Engine HP382
Engine Torque (lb-ft)391
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic



Road Test

Both gas-engine models accelerate briskly, though the ML500’s V8 delivers more thrust in all conditions. However, the transmission is compelled to upshift and downshift more frequently in the ML350, versus the ML500, in response to throttle inputs. In two test ML350s, the transmission periodically suffered jerky gear changes at low speeds. The ML320 CDI suffers slight delay in power delivery from a stop, or brief turbo lag, but then accelerates briskly.

Fuel economy is about as expected. A test ML350 averaged 17 to 19 mpg. Gas-engine MLs require premium-grade fuel, while the turbodiesel in the ML320 CDI needs low-sulfur diesel fuel. CDI models are not sold in California or certain Northeastern states.

Expect low-speed impact harshness over sharp bumps and ridges. Otherwise, these SUVs ride with admirable comfort and are rewardingly composed. Mercedes’ available air suspension has Comfort, Sport, and Automatic settings. In Sport setting, the ride gets uncomfortably choppy, but other modes have little evident effect on comfort or control.

Steering is impressively linear and accurate, though some drivers may prefer lighter low-speed feel. An M-Class corners with impressive grip and balance, and no excess body lean. These Mercedes models act more like tall station wagons than SUVs, but they do lean more in corners than the sportier Acura MDX, BMW X5, or Porsche Cayenne. Strong stopping power is matched by outstanding brake-pedal modulation.

Quietness is another virtue, with luxury-car levels of road- and wind-noise suppression. The V6 is heard more than the V8, by virtue of more-frequent shifts. Otherwise, it’s no less refined in sound and feel than the silken V8. The ML320 CDI’s turbodiesel makes a slightly different noise than gas engines, but is not much louder overall.

Dashboards present an upscale blend of businesslike gauges and sophisticated but easy-to-use controls. Large, well-marked climate dials deserve special praise. Gear shifting via the short column lever takes some practice. The lever falls easily to hand, but returns to the same position after each shift, requiring the driver to monitor gear selection as indicated on the instrument panel screen. Mercedes’ navigation system absorbs most audio functions, and requires multiple steps for some basic tasks. Test models had leather/wood cabin trim. Materials are notably rich in feel and quality, for upscale ambience, though most panels are firm rather than soft to the touch.

Roomy front seats are supportive in cruising and cornering, though the Comfort Package’s 10-way seats have a tacked-on control pod that can intrude on leg space and looks incongruous. Entry/exit is easy via large doors and no-stress step-in height. Rear occupants enjoy good leg, foot, and headroom on a nicely contoured seat, which fits three-across with only minor crowding. Narrow lower doorways slightly impair entry/exit for the rear compartment.

The tall, broad cargo bay offers plenty of space even with rear seats in use. Rear seat cushions tip, and seatbacks fold easily without removing headrests to create a long, flat load floor. Good cabin storage includes roomy door pockets, a tiered console bin, and wide space where the floor shifter was previously located.


Model Tested: Mercedes-Benz ML350

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 6

Total: 63


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.)Length (in.)Width (in.)Height (in.)Weight (lbs)
Cargo Volume (cu/ft)Payload Capacity (cu/ft)Fuel Capacity (gal.)Seating Capacity
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 M-Class 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)


Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioner may not be cool enough or may quit working due to the low-side hose collapsing internally. (2007-09)
Climate control
Description: The temperature in the cabin may be warmer or cooler than the set temperature requiring adjustment of the sun sensor. (2006)
Description: The power tailgate may reverse directions when closing due to a loose bolt for the gas strut. (2006)
Description: The outside mirrors may not fully retract or open due to a loose electrical connection or lack of lubrication on their pivots. (2008)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leaks from the camshaft caps at the rear of the engine unless improved caps have been installed. (2006-09)
Description: The heated front seats may quit working due to failure of the signal acquisition module. (2006)
Steering noise
Description: The steering shaft bearing may wear causing noises when turning. (2006)
Steering problems
Description: Snapping or groaning from the steering column due to failing upper steering shaft bearing. (2005-08)
Suspension problems
Description: Numerous warnings about the suspension and brakes may be due to abrasion of the wires for the front wheel speed sensors. (2006)
Tail/brake lights
Description: The taillights and brake lights may quit working requiring jumper harnesses to be installed. (2006-08)
Vehicle noise
Description: Noises (squeaks, grunts) from the rear end are due to design of the spring seats and revised units are available. (2006)
Windshield washer
Description: The low windshield washer warning may come on if the ratio of water to washer concentrate is incorrect or if distilled water is used. (2007-09)
Electrical problem
Description: The air suspension may quit working and an “Airmatic-Visit Workshop” message may appear due to insulation on wiring harness from compressor rubbing off and the wire shorting. (2007-08)
Electrical problem
Description: The buttons in the steering wheel may quit working requiring replacement of the steering wheel which is internally shorted. (2006-07)
Description: The integrated garage door opener may resist programming unless the current program is erased, but the instructions may not be in the owner’s manual to press and hold the two outer transmitter buttons until the signal light flashes rapidly. (2006)
Description: The power liftgate may quit working due to failure of the rear-end door closing module. (2006-09)
Description: There may be a clunk or driveline shock when lifting off the throttle and reprogramming the engine control module corrects the condition. (2007-09)
Transmission problems
Description: Harsh downshifts from second to first when braking may require a software upgrade, a revised valve body or both. (2006)

Recall History

Description: Hose clamps that secure power-steering fluid cooling hose to fluid cooler may not provide sufficient clamping force; loss of fluid could damage pump and result in diminished power assist.
2006-08 M-Class with trailer hitch
Description: Some of the weld seams connecting the trailer-hitch receiver to the attachment bar used to secure the trailer hitch to the body frame do not meet performance specifications. This may result in the trailer-hitch receiver separating from the attachment bar. The trailer hitch must not be used for any purpose until it has been repaired. Dealers will repair the trailer hitch.
Description: An incorrect software calibration number (SCN) coding received during a recent workshop visit can affect a number of functions: (1) the fuel gauge readings may be incorrect; (2) a stuck fuel-level sensor may not be displayed in the instrument cluster; (3) the check engine light may illuminate incorrectly; and, (4) the speedometer may be out of tolerance. In the event of a vehicle crash, the electrical fuel pump may not receive a crash signal that is required for the fuel pump to disconnect and prevent future fuel delivery as designed. Dealers will recode the SCN.
Description: Accelerator pedal in some vehicles might not have been fully fastened; over time, pedal may not maintain a consistent position, making it more difficult to operate.
2007 M-Class with diesel engine
Description: Engine may stall and not restart due to a failed crankshaft sensor. Dealers will replace the crankshaft sensor.
Description: Defective driving pin, used to control oil pressure of power steering, could break during normal turns, limiting steering-wheel operation.
2009 equipped w/optional power liftgate
Description: A faulty seal around the rear tail lamp assembly may allow water to enter the rear compartment containing the spare tire. Water contamination of the control unit for the power lift gate can result in disabling of the power lift gate motor. Dealers will replace the seal of the rear tail lamp assembly with a thicker one and reposition the affected power lift gate control unit inside the chassis.
2011 M-Class model W164
Description: The O-ring may not have been properly lubricated in all cases. Lack of lubrication can lead to leakage of the fuel filter. Diesel fuel may be deposited on roads and making those roads slippery, increasing the potential for a crash. Dealers will replace the fuel filters free of charge.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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