The Automotive Industry, Briefly

M-Class: Safety, Security, and Off Road Capabilities Abound in a Luxury SUV

2014 M-Class

Mercedes-Benz has long been known as one of the most recognizable and trusted names in luxury vehicles often showing off the three-point star with style, class, elegance and sophistication only matched by the very best. In recent years, Mercedes-Benz chose to enter the competition that normally is reserved for the big bruisers of the world with its own take on what an SUV should be. Ever since the first offering a new class of vehicles was born; the Luxury SUV class and has since had other enter the ring to throw down with the M-Class, but as usual the M-Class continues to stand tall above its competitors.

Showing up for 2014 with some great hardware awarded from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as a Top Safety Pick Plus in the Luxury SUV class, this vehicle offers much more than just luxurious stylings but also a long list of safety features to keep all occupants safe in case the worst should happen while inside the vehicle. Offering not only the safety features, but also a great lineup of models that includes a diesel engine and an AMG version the M-Class has an offering that almost anyone looking for a great luxury SUV will enjoy including the ability to go off road when called upon to do so, a feature often left out of others in this class.

Offering enough power to sport a 174 mph top speed and enough low-end torque to rival even the best of American trucks this SUV offers everything expected of a luxury SUV with a smooth quiet ride and responsive steering. As Mercedes-Benz has long made a name for itself with the best in automotive engineering the M-Class offers an expertly engineered suspension that can take on all the on-road and off-road bumps and bruises with an easy smoothness not available on other vehicles. The quiet ride provided by the noise dampening insulation and noise cancelling technology offer the cabin a quiet ride or one full of just the music selected and not the outside environment. If there is any knock on the M-Class it’s in the steering that is responsive but not at a level expected of some of the world’s best engineers, however the steering is adequate and easy enough to get used to.

Offering four different models of M-Class, this Mercedes-Benz lineup offers four different engines for each one although all four experiences the best and most advanced transmission with the first seven-speed automatic transmission with optional manual paddle-shifters. At the base model, the ML350 the engine under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 offering 302 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. When fitted with the transmission this set up will offer the owner a decent 18 city/22 hwy mpg for regular gas and 13 city/17 hwy mpg for E85; an excellent base engine to get the lineup going that also offers a towing capacity of 6,600 pounds. This is the only power train where the 4Matic all-wheel drive is optional and with the expert engineering that went into it this becomes a must have option for this model.

Up to bat next is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 ML 350 Blue TEC which offers a decent 240 horsepower but a massive torque of 455 lb.-ft. When set up with the transmission this combination will bring in a nice fuel economy of 20 city/27 hwy mpg which is fantastic for this size of vehicle and the best overall for this lineup.   Offering an increase of towing capacity to 7,200 pounds this powerful grouping offers the same towing capacity as the larger V8 engines but with the added bonus of good fuel economy. With only one downside to this excellent power train, it does required the addition of AdBlue fluid throughout the life of the vehicle, as consideration that must be made, but a minor one for all the power matched with fuel efficiency.

Next to the plate is the 4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine showing off in the ML550 with a strong 402 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque. When matched with the transmission offers 14 city/20 hwy mpg. This is a powerful and capable setup that can handle any challenge thrown its way and offers a towing capacity of 7,200 pounds for easy hauling.

Batting cleanup with the most power is the ML63 AMG model with a 5.5-liter biturbo V8 engine bringing in a monstrous 518 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. Certainly not purchased for the fuel economy it readily drinks up gas at a 13 city/17 hwy mpg rate. With the most performance bennies included this beast can reach from zero to sixty in just 4.7 seconds which is in the same club as many high-performance sports cars. Offering a towing capacity of 7,200 pounds this massive basher will take the occupants anywhere they want to go with ease and power often asking for more.

Once inside the cabin the driver can leave the outside world behind and enjoy one of luxury with soft and supple materials and gorgeous wood accents. Equipped with an available wood steering wheel and leather upholstery and the luxury only gets better. Offering plenty of legroom for even the back seat riders the rear seat does recline and when equipped with an entertainment system LCD screens can be mounted into the front headrests for an easy and entertaining ride. All controls are easily found and continue the feel of top-tier design and stylings across the entire dashboard.

From the outside the M-Class looks like it should be parked next to a mansion. With amazingly smooth curves and eye-pleasing angles, not to mention the sophisticated look of the front grill the M-Class really brings style and elegance to the road. Offering a sculpted beltline from front to the rear gives the SUV a sportier look and feeling of a desire to shoot down the road at breakneck speeds. When the ML63 AMG model is chose a larger front intake, wider fenders and quad tailpipes are found to add the feel of high-performance to this beast. With 19-inch five-spoke superiorly designed wheels carrying the load and an option for 20-inch if desired, the overall look of luxury is completed in grand style.

With a fantastic vehicle on the plate the list of standard features causes the need for a second overflowing platter. The features found in the M-Class include a power sunroof, eight-way heated front seats, a power lift gate, dual-zone automatic climate control, a seven-inch color center display, Collision Prevent Assistance, an eight-speaker audio system with HD radio, nine airbags, Mercedes’ Attention Assist system and 19-inch wheels for the ML350 and ML550 while the ML63 AMG is fitted with 20-inch wheels.

After the generous helping of standard features the M-Class should be full, but can gobble up even more with the optional features that are bundled into packages. Some of the optional features available are a navigation system, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, a Harman/Kardon premium surround sound audio system, a panorama roof, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, the Parktronic parking system, 20-inch wheels, air suspension, and an adaptive dampening system. When buying the ML63 AMG a package can be added to increase horsepower by 32 to allow a top speed of 174 mph.

Yes, this is a luxury SUV and it is very much priced as one starting out with the base ML350 carrying a $49,000 price tag with the rear-wheel drive while a fully-loaded ML63 AMG comes in over $122,000. Because of this huge price range for one model of vehicle the M-Class can be fitted to fit just about anyone’s taste and personality.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class shows up as one of the very best Luxury SUV’s in its class and offers a massive amount of safety features allowing it to win the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award. When shopping for a luxury SUV the M-Class deserves a great look-see as it is one of the only Luxury SUV’s that can handle real off road driving.

 

 



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