The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is redesigned with freshened styling, more power, and new features. This is the smaller of the brand's two midsize SUVs, the other being the Mercedes-Benz R-Class. The M-Class seats 5 and has standard all-wheel drive. The 2012 version comes in two trim levels with two engines. The ML350 4MATIC retains a 3.5-liter V6 engine but with 302 horsepower versus the 2011 model's 268. The ML350 BlueTEC continues with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 but with 240 horsepower versus the outgoing version's 210.
The BlueTEC is emissions legal in all 50 states and uses an exhaust-treatment system that requires periodic dealer maintenance. The V8-powered ML550 and high-performance ML63 AMG have been discontinued but might return in calendar 2012 as 2013 models. A 7-speed automatic is the sole transmission. Safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain-side airbags, front- and rear-side airbags, and a driver-knee airbag. Other available safety features include a night-vision camera with pedestrian detection, blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning. A sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, power tailgate, and 10-gigabyte hard drive for storing digital-music files are standard. A navigation system and leather upholstery are optional. The available Dynamic Handling Package includes an air suspension and Mercedes' ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM, which is designed to counteract body lean in fast corners. Due later in the model year is an optional ON&OFFROAD Package, which includes an air suspension that's adjustable for six different road and terrain settings. We have not yet tested the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class.