The Mercedes M Class is a luxury midsize crossover SUV that premiered in 1997 for the 1998 model year and is credited for being one of the very first in its segment. Capable of seating either five or seven passengers (with an optional third row seat), the vehicle is also recognized for its high level of comfort and top-quality Mercedes-brand performance. It is noted as the first luxury SUV to showcase stability control, as well. At its launch, the Mercedes M Class was offered in the US as the ML320 and equipped with a 3.2L V6 engine. As for the model's dimensions, the ML320 measured in with a wheelbase of 111 inches, a width of 72.2 inches (AMG- 74.6 inches), a height of 69.9 inches (AMG- 69.3 inches), and an overall length of 180.6 inches (AMG- 182.5 inches). Awards came quickly for the Mercedes M Class, as it was named Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year (1998) and the North American Truck of the Year (1998). For the M Class's second year on the road, a 4.3L V8 (ML430) joined the lineup.
The ML55 AMG was introduced in 2000 and a year later, the Sport Package was added. For 2002, the ML430 was replaced by the ML500, which showed off a 5.0L V8 engine capable of 288 horsepower. Exterior parts were changed, including new bumpers, headlights, and side-mirrors. Automatic climate control became standard also. In 2003, the navigation system was updated to DVD but the model saw few updates overall until the end of the year, when the ML350 slotted in and took over for the ML320. The ML350 sported a larger 3.5L V6 engine good for approximately 230 horsepower. The ML55 was removed altogether from the lineup. 2005 did not bring on any major alterations to the M Class, although Mercedes began offering a new Special Edition Package. While there have not been a host of changes to M Class parts found throughout the last few years of the model's first generation, the M Class was given a hefty redesign heading into 2006. Representing the second generation of the vehicle, the ML350's engine got a boost up to 268 horsepower while the ML500's configuration saw its number climb up to 302 from 288 horsepower. 2007 brought on similar attributes for the trim levels and a new one, the ML320 CDI, offered a 3.0L turbodiesel V6. Both the ML350 and ML500 were equipped with the same configurations from the previous year. The bold ML63 AMG appeared for the first time in the M Class and was outfitted with a 6.3L V8 that pumped out an impressive 503 horsepower with 465 pounds-per-foot of torque.
2008 saw the ML550 inserted onto the Mercedes M Class roster and the ML500 dropped. The ML550 churned out 382 horsepower with 391 pounds-per-foot of torque. Other trim/engine levels were left unchanged going into 2009. However, in 2009, the ML320 CDI was replaced by the ML320 Bluetec engine, which was still a 3.0L turbodiesel V6 (rated at 201 hp). For the 2010 model year, a new ML450 Hybrid became available. Using a pair of electric motors and an advanced transmission, the ML450 Hybrid produced up to 335 horsepower and 381 pounds-per-foot of torque. Estimated fuel-efficiency for the model is rated at 21 mpg city/24 mpg highway. Keeping in line with Mercedes' tradition of top-notch safety features, the M Class is equipped with standard antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill descent/ascent control, and a full layout of airbags. In 2008, the Mercedes M Class received five-start scores in both side-impact and frontal crash tests.
When you judge an SUV, you normally look at a few specific traits: passenger room, cargo space, interior comfort, and wheelbase. With a Mercedes, you have to raise your standards accordingly. The M Class doesn't disappoint in any department. This fashionable crossover has the space to fit five or seven comfortably with enough room to stow whatever extras you need to bring along the way. Drivers always talk about the hungry performance that just "zooms" out at you, which is another reason why it's so beloved. But the sleekly styled exterior parts don't hurt, either.
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