2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mercedes-Benz M-Class Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 5.0 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 7-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 302 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 13/17 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

  • Faster, lighter and more comfortable than before, the redesigned 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class has what it takes to regain prestige in the expanded luxury SUV market.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Fresh styling inside and out, comfortable for five, extensive array of safety features, surefooted in bad weather, easy-to-use navigation system

  • Cons

    V6 is short on low-end torque, no third-row seat option, expensive for its class.

  • What's New for 2006

    A completely redesigned M-Class debuts for 2006.

Full 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Review

What's New for 2006

A completely redesigned M-Class debuts for 2006.


Since the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class in 1998, many other premium-brand automakers have thrown their hats into the luxury SUV ring. To remain in the hunt, Mercedes has made constant improvements to its midsize SUV, increasing the feature content and performance, updating its looks and addressing the build quality issues that plagued early models.

Even so, the M-Class was falling behind amidst better-handling and better-dressed car-based SUVs. Finally, after eight years using the same platform, Mercedes readied the truck's successor. The 2006 Mercedes-Benz ML350 and ML500 are more powerful, better-handling and loaded with upscale features. Six inches longer overall, the new M-Class rides on a 4-inch-longer wheelbase and is 2 inches wider, though its storage area has been cut to 72.4 cubic feet when the 60/40-split rear seat is folded down. Instead, the extra inches go to the passenger cabin, where occupants enjoy added leg- and shoulder room. Despite the increase in dimensions, a third-row seat is no longer an option, as the all-new R-Class wagon has been designated for the family crowd.

An improvement over the previous body-on-frame design, the 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is built on a unibody chassis that's stiffer, lighter and better able to deliver Mercedes-like ride quality. Stretched longer and wider, yet with less ground clearance than the old ML, the ML350 also has a more aggressive stance. The ML350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 268 horsepower. The ML500 still uses a 5.0-liter V8, but horsepower is bumped from 288 to 302. Both engines use a seven-speed automatic transmission that sends the power through a permanent four-wheel-drive system.

The design of the cabin isn't radically different than before, but it has an open, airy feel that the old M-Class lacked, and materials quality is much improved with large helpings of wood and aluminum trim. One of the most noticeable changes is the lack of a console-mounted shifter, replaced by a small stalk on the steering column to make room for American-size cupholders. The original M-Class caught a wave of opportunity that lasted longer than even Mercedes could have ever expected. Even though there are now many worthy vehicles in the premium SUV segment, the new Benz's combination of cutting-edge safety features, commendable on-road performance and plentiful creature comforts keep this pioneering luxury SUV right up there with the best in the class.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a five-passenger SUV available in one of two models, ML350 and ML500. The standard ML350 comes standard with full-time four-wheel-drive, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats and a bare-bones four-speaker CD stereo. The ML500 gets 18-inch wheels, speed-sensitive steering, privacy glass, more deluxe Multi-Contour seats with heaters, multizone climate control, a leather interior, walnut trim, and additional chrome detailing. Among the numerous options are active bi-xenon headlamps, 19-inch wheels, a Harman Kardon Logic7 sound system with glovebox-mounted CD changer, a DVD-based navigation system, a rear-seat entertainment system, Keyless Go and a sunroof. An off-road package includes a two-speed transfer case, differential locks and a height-adjustable air suspension.

Powertrains and Performance

The ML350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 rated for 268 horsepower. The ML500 uses last year's 5.0-liter V8, but power increases from 288 hp to 302 hp. Both engines use a seven-speed automatic transmission that sends the power through a permanent four-wheel-drive system. The standard 4WD system is intended mainly for winter use; off-road enthusiasts can get low-range gearing by ordering the optional off-road package.


Standard safety features include traction and stability control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side-impact bags for torso protection and two full-length head curtains. The PreSafe system is optional and adds additional protection in the event of a collision. If the onboard computer determines a collision is imminent, PreSafe can pull the front seatbelts taut, adjust the seats to optimal positions and even close the sunroof to prevent ejection during a rollover. The ML's performance in NHTSA crash testing was impressive, as the Benz posted perfect (five star) scores in both frontal- and side-impact testing, while scoring a still respectable four stars for rollover resistance.

Interior Design and Special Features

There's plenty of room for 6-footers up front and all ML500s come standard with multicontour seats that provide excellent support; ML350s offer them as an option. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class has a tasteful, modern look that doesn't sacrifice functionality. Materials quality is generally very good, and the overall layout is open and airy. Maximum cargo capacity is 72.4 cubic feet, which is less space than the old M-Class offered. Most families will find the SUV plenty roomy, though the heavy rear liftgate will make you want to splurge on the power opener.

Driving Impressions

From behind the wheel, the 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class feels lighter on its feet than the original, yet just as stable. With the optional air-spring suspension, the ride quality is plush and responsive. Throw the new ML into a corner and it rolls moderately, understeers predictably and sticks longer than you'd expect. On the road, the ML350 possesses plenty of passing power, but feels a bit shy on torque from a stop. If you want more punch off the line, spring for the V8-powered ML500, which sends 302 hp through the same seven-speed transmission.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Not a bad car

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 7A)

Bought this car new, and have no problems other than replacing brake lights and the fuel filter ($3000+). I've 118000+ miles and have no serious complaints other than shoddy switchgear (sunroof switch is broken). Roomy, decent gas milage (23mpg+) and fully-featured, this I believe is my perfect car. However, the 8-quart oil requirement makes for expensive oil changes when using synthetic ($100+).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Unreliable overrated verhicle

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 7A)

- Balance Shaft replaced - 8 sensors replaced in 8 month span - 2 Ignition coils replaced - MAF sensor replaced - ECU Connector replaced - Headlight wiring insulation cracked (and shortcut) - The wheel wells are covered in some kind of fabric(?) which will come loose - Rear bulbs keep burning out - Subwoofer blown - Rear windshield wiper does not complete cycle - Interior vents adjusters falling apart (glued?) - Ratting in left front door - Rear hatch rattling - Lots of rattling when interior is cold - Seat Belt lock stops working - Rear ashtray fell apart - Idling erratic I traded it in for an Acura MDX, what a breeze, no rattles, smooth ride, and all options standard

Maybe luck of the draw

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 7A)

Some people may have bought a "monday or friday" car, meaning the days nobody wants to work, a few mishaps made down the assembly line( yes you can research and find out what day our car was born on FYI) However, I'm surprised at all the bad reviews. This is my second mercedes but first ML truck. I love it truely & thanking God i have not experienced the nightmares of others. I get so many compliments.I will admit the wiring harness had to be fixed by dealer( free of charge) but other than that the car is perfect total class.. Mercedes is worth the money and yes expensive to maintain but hey... you gotta Pay to Play right..

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Never buy an ml

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML500 4dr SUV AWD (5.0L 8cyl 7A)

Just traded in the 2006 Mercedes ML-350 with 116,000 miles on it. Worst car ever. Reliability was terrible. Resell is horrible. Basic maintenance is extremely expensive. Had battery troubles, alternator troubles, and electronic troubles. Horrible design. Electrical boards are under the seats, so you can't get anything wet. One time the wipers, alarm and locks went off just because the battery was dying AGAIN. Automatic liftgate never worked. Sick and tired of Mercedes and will never buy again. Traded it in for a 2013 Acura RDX.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great suv if its working

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML500 4dr SUV AWD (5.0L 8cyl 7A)

We purchased an 2006 ML500 a year ago. It has been in the shop at least 4 times and over $10K of repairs. I am glad we purchased the extended warranty and it is still covered. Thank God! Anways, if this suv was just reliable it would be perfect. My wife and I love driving this vehicle. The problem it is always in the shop. We are thinking about trading it in because it a hassle taking it to the shop every 3-4 months. This is by far the most unreliable vehicle I have ever owned.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Ml350 - don't touch one!

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 7A)

If you research this vehicle you will find they have problems with the balance shaft and this equals expensive repairs. MB will not admit a problem exists but the blogs show this to be untrue. They have also introduced a replacement (read upgrade) kit to address their non existent problems. My experience has been that a cog on the balance shaft has disintegrated causing much internal damage. The engine had to be removed and parts replaced. 30 hours labour. Can you afford the risk? I currently have 2 MB's but will not touch another one.

Talk About The 2006 M-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Discussions See all Started By

I got a chance to see the new ML this past weekend in Detroit. I must say that I wasn't too impressed with it. The interior looks (they were all locked) to be of higher quality that the current mod?...

The M-class has been available in Europe for a while with a diesel. Emissions and other factors have kept it from coming to North America....

M-Class - Same as R-Class. ML63 AMG arrives in spring 2006....

Read more about the 2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Gas Mileage


  • 13
  • cty
  • 17
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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