There's also a diesel model; the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 in the ML320 Bluetec makes 210 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. It's rated at a frugal 18 mpg city, 24 highway. Thanks to an AdBlue exhaust treatment system, the SUV meets 50-state emissions rules and its generous torque rating makes it an ideal choice for towing.
Coming late in the 2010 model year will be a ML450 Hybrid. With a 3.5-liter V6 engine plus twin electric motors, the hybrid system will generate up to 275 hp and 258 pound-feet altogether. The full hybrid system is capable of using electric power only at low speeds, and the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack is mounted under the cargo floor. The Hybrid model includes a display, accessible through the COMAND display that's included on all M-Class models, indicating the power flow between the battery,
The M-Class is primarily set up for on-road driving, but the full-time 4-wheel drive system employs open differentials and a 4-wheel traction control system can send power to just one corner when the rest of the wheels lose traction. During normal driving, the system distributes power 50/50 front to back. It also includes an Off-Road Mode, which engages a different anti-lock braking mode for loose surfaces, allows slightly more wheel slip, and makes the accelerator pedal less aggressive. The M-Class includes Downhill Speed Regulation and Hill-Start Assist to control speed on steep slopes.
On-road, the M-Class rides quite smoothly and handles reasonably well for such a tough vehicle, thanks to its 4-wheel independent suspension--including a double wishbone front suspension and 4-link rear setup, along with hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion power steering. A height-adjustable air suspension is standard on the C63 AMG but optional on other models, while an Active Damping System allows four different setting from comfort to sport.
The M-Class is extremely well equipped for occupant protection, including front side airbags, head-protecting window curtain airbags for front and rear occupants, stability control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and a rollover sensor system. It's strictly a 5-passenger vehicle, but it has plenty of space for adults in back, along with adequate cargo space.
All M-Class models include a long list of conveniences such as power seats, cruise control, dual heated mirrors, a sunroof and keyless entry, while ML550 models add heated seats, rain-sensor wipers, running boards, Burl Walnut trim, and upgraded brakes. The C63 AMG brings even larger brakes, the Airmatic suspension, special Nappa leather and aerodynamic bodywork.
The options list is extensive on the M-Class, and includes bi-xenon curve-illuminating headlamps, Parktronic, a power liftgate, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, Bluetooth, Keyless Go, a rear-seat entertainment system and a harman/kardon Logic 7 premium audio system.