Premium midsize SUV; Built in
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $27,400 – $79,600*


2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350


2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350


2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350


2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350

Pros:
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Refinement
Cons:
  • Fuel economy (gas engines)
  • Some interior trim pieces reflect sunlight

The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is very refined, solidly built, and pleasant to drive. High points include the comfortable, well-finished interior and excellent powertrains. Think of the ML63 AMG as a suede- and leather-lined cruise missile. It commands a significant price premium, but it is arguably the most well rounded high-power luxury SUV on the market with its admirable blend of performance, comfort, and refinement. But any M-Class variant is a fine premium-midsize SUV that deserves serious consideration.

Overview

M-Class was the smallest of the brand’s premium-midsize SUVs. The 5-passenger M-Class was redesigned for 2012. Gasoline and diesel variants were available. All were built at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The Mercedes-Benz M-Class was available in several different versions.

ML350 and diesel-powered ML350 BlueTEC models came with a wide array of standard equipment including dual-zone automatic climate control, interior air filter, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, vinyl upholstery, heated front bucket seats with 8-way power adjustment, wood interior trim, sunroof, power liftgate, roof rails, and 19-inch alloy wheels. The ML550 included the same equipment as the ML350 and added standard running boards.

The high-performance ML63 AMG had many additional features including an idle stop/start system, navigation system, rearview camera, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, harmon/kardon audio system, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, sport suspension, and 20-inch wheels. Running boards were a no-cost option.

The M-Class boasted a long and varied options list. Many of the items standard on ML63 were available for the other models. There were several packages and a selection of individual items including a dual-screen DVD entertainment system for the rear seat, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and special interior trim.

Options for the ML63 AMG included the Distronic Assistance Package with blind-spot intervention, lane-departure intervention, PRE-SAFE braking, and adaptive cruise control. The AMG Development Package brought a stronger V8 engine, increased top-speed capability, red brake calipers, and a carbon-fiber engine cover. Individual extras included tri-zone automatic climate control, special wood interior trim, an upgraded headliner, 21-inch wheels, and a choice of two different wood-and-leather steering wheels.

Four engines are available in the M-Class. The ML350 4MATIC used a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 302 horsepower. The ML550 used a 402-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8. ML63 AMG was fitted with a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8. In regular tune it made 518 horsepower. The optional AMG Development Package increased its output to 550.

One diesel engine was available too. The ML350 BlueTEC had a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that was rated at 240 horsepower.

All M-Class models used a 7-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The ML350 4MATIC had EPA estimated fuel economy of 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. This models could also use E85 fuel which returned estimates of 13 city/17 highway. The ML550 4MATIC was estimated at 14 city and 20 highway. ML63 was rated at 13/17. Estimates for the ML350 BlueTEC were 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

The full complement of expected and federally mandated safety features were standard on all M-Class models. Additional safety items on ML350 and ML550 included a driver fatigue alert system, pre-collision system with seat-belt tensioners, and front and rear side airbags. ML63 AMG added more including blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, rearview camera, and front- and rear-obstacle detection systems. These items were available optionally on ML350 and ML550.

Note, our evaluation of ML63 AMG was based on preview test drives.

Yearly Updates

2012 M-Class
For 2013, Mercedes-Benz added a rear-drive version of the ML350. New standard equipment included the mbrace2 telematics system, Collision Prevention Assist, and a color display screen in the instrument cluster. The ML550 now included an upholstered dashboard as standard equipment. There were some new options too. These included multicontour driver and passenger front seats with massage function and comfort headrests. The On- and Off-Road Package included a two-stage transfer case, longitudinal differential lock, and driver selectable transmission settings.
2013 M-Class
The only news for 2014 was the addition of Mercedes-Benz’s unique Splitview dashboard display screen as an option. Splitview could project different images to the driver and front-seat passenger, for example the driver could view the navigation system’s map while the passenger watched a DVD movie.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

Four engines have been available in the M-Class. The ML350 and ML350 4MATIC used a 3.5-liter V6 that’s rated at 302 horsepower. The ML550 had a 402-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8. ML63 AMG was fitted with a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8. In regular tune it made 518 horsepower. The optional AMG Development Package increased its output to 550.

Turbodiesel dohc V64
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 455
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic

20/28

dohc V61
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 302
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 273
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic

18/23

Turbocharged dohc V82
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.7/285
Engine HP 402
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 443
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic

14/20

Turbocharged dohc V83
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.5/333
Engine HP 518
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 516
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic

13/17

1. ML350, ML350 4MATIC. Estimate fuel economy is 13/17 when using E85 fuel. 2. ML550 4MATIC. 3. ML63 AMG. 550 hp/560 lb-ft w/optional AMG Development Package. 4. ML350 BlueTEC.

Road Test

ML350 4MATIC has plenty of smooth power around town and on the highway. BlueTEC models are notably stronger from a standstill, and offer a healthy reserve of passing muscle as well. We did note inconsistent throttle response in one BlueTEC test vehicle though. Sometimes the engine would eagerly provide power without waiting for the transmission to downshift. But at other times after hitting the gas pedal it would take a surprisingly long time to get any type of response from the engine. We’re not sure what was happening, but we have not experienced such issues with the gas-powered ML350. We have not had the opportunity to evaluate the ML550. The ML63 AMG has more than 500 horsepower and it is brutally fast. At these power levels, there is little apparent difference between the standard ML63 and one equipped with the extra-cost AMG Development Package. Mercedes-Benz says the stock ML63 will run 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, and that the AMG Development Package will knock 0.1 seconds off of that. We haven’t been able to put those times to the stopwatch, but our seat-of-the-pants impressions say they are accurate. ML63s include an idle stop/start system that turns the engine off when the truck is stopped and restarts it instantly when the brake pedal is released. It works, but it isn’t the smoothest system like this that we’ve encountered.

In Consumer Guide testing, a diesel-powered ML350 BlueTEC averaged an excellent 22.6 mpg. The gasoline-powered M-Class variants require premium-grade fuel. Gas-powered ML350s can use E85 ethanol as well. The ML350 BlueTEC is available in all 50 states. It has an exhaust-gas treatment system that requires periodic dealer maintenance.

All M-Class models ride very comfortably and are reassuringly composed. The ML63 rides a bit firmer than its siblings but remains compliant. Its adjustable suspension can be set in one of three modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. We think the Sport setting offers the best balance of ride comfort and handling prowess.

The ML350 is not as sporty as a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne, but the Mercedes is arguably smoother and more pleasant to drive in everyday situations. In normal cornering, body lean isn’t excessive, and with its accurate, well-weighted steering ML350’s handling is confident. The ML63 is another story. It more than holds its own against high-performance premium SUVs including the BMW X5 M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. We also like that M-Class has a tight turning circle which is an advantage when navigating tight quarters. On all, the brakes are strong with good pedal feel.

Road- and wind-noise suppression is impressive, rivaling some luxury cars. Both V6s are very refined and nearly silent at steady-state cruise. The BlueTEC’s diesel is especially well behaved. ML63’s performance tires kick up a fuss on rough pavement. Its muscular V8 emits an intoxicating roar when pushed, but it is agreeably quiet on the highway.

The M-Class is fitted with clear gauges that are easy to read, and while most of the control buttons are intuitively marked, a bit of acclimation is required for some functions. The navigation system uses a combination of touch-screen activation, dash-mounted buttons, and a control knob on the console. Again, some practice is needed to understand all of the system’s functions. Seat adjustments are made via door-mounted switches that are similar to those Mercedes-Benz uses on brand’s automobiles. M-Class is the first Mercedes-Benz product to receive the company’s new turn-signal stalk and cruise-control stalk placement that mimics the traditional locations used by most automakers.

M-Class interiors have an upscale atmosphere thanks to standard wood trim and high-quality materials. Appearance is further enhanced by the available leather upholstery. Nicely executed satin-chrome trim adds to the classy vibe, as does contrast stitch detailing. Taken as a whole, the ML63’s cabin feels sportier, but it still maintains a high-end feel. We like its unvarnished wood trim; it’s an unusual choice that looks very nice. We’re less impressed with the optional piano-black trim though. The high gloss smooth panels look a bit uninspired in the otherwise handsome interior.

Up front passengers enjoy roomy, comfortable seats. Headroom and legroom are generous, and the power-adjustable steering wheel that is included with the optional Premium Package 1 (and standard on ML63) makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position. The M-Class sits a bit higher than some other crossover SUVs, but entry and exit remain reasonably easy. ML550 and ML63 come with standard running boards; we would recommend ordering them as an option on the ML350. Some of the satin chrome trim on the center of the dash can reflect sunlight at times making it difficult to see the navigation screen. Visibility is surprisingly good, thanks in part to the rear-seat headrests that can be retracted to a position nearly level with the seat back.

In the back, even larger adults will have good headroom, legroom, and footspace.

Behind the rear seat, the tall cargo bay offers plenty of space. The spare tire uses the under-floor storage compartment. After flipping up the rear seat cushions, the split rear seat folds forward without having to remove the headrests leaving a long, flat load floor. The forward section of the center console has a pair of large cupholders under a sliding cover. Cabin storage is otherwise average. There is a glovebox, a small bin under the console’s “bomb bay” style armrest cover, door pockets, a couple small trays, and seat-back pockets.

Ratings

Model Tested: ML350 4MATIC with navigation

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.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 8
80%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 9
90%
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
70%
Cargo Room - 9
90%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 70

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
114.8 189.1 84.3 70.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
71.0 24.6 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.9 38.5 40.3 38.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2013 M-Class 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Coolant leak
Description: Incorrectly positioned lower radiator hose may prevent coupling from locking in place. (2013)
Seat
Description: Front seat bolts may not be correctly torqued. (2013)
Suspension noise
Description: Hissing noise from front suspension could indicate leak in air suspension strut that requires replacement of one or both front struts. (2012)
Water leak
Description: Air conditioning condensation hose can leak water under front seats. (2013)
Electrical problem
Description: Malfunction in fuse or relay boxes may result in the engine not starting. (2012-13)
Electrical problem
Description: Steering wheel foam can cause electrical short in horn plate, resulting in nonfunctional steering wheel multifunction buttons. (2012-13)
Electrical problem
Description: Blind-spot assist or park assist may become inoperable because cable set can become damaged near muffler. (2013)
Brake lights
Description: Electrical fault can cause nonfunctional brake lights (2013)
Software problems
Description: Diesel engine needs software update for engine control module. (2012)

Recall History

2012-13 M-Series
Description: Accessory floor mats sold for use in 2012 and 2013 model Mercedes-Benz M-Class vehicls may not fit properly and could trap the gas pedal.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

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.