2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Diesel Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Diesel

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Mercedes-Benz M-Class Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.0 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 7-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 240 hp @ 3600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

  • The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class sees plenty of key improvements, notably in performance, fuel efficiency and cabin ambience that keep it fully competitive in the luxury SUV game.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Engine choices include gas and diesel; comfortable seating; high-quality interior and construction; excellent braking distances.

  • Cons

    Expensive compared to some rivals; no third-row seat option; disappointing steering response.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is all-new.

Full 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is all-new.


The redesigned 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a perfect example of subtle evolution. When you've got something good going, why make radical changes? As such, the newest Mercedes M-Class, despite having all-new sheet metal, is instantly recognizable as the brand's popular midsize SUV. Styling is cleaned up a bit, as the grille returns to a more classic Mercedes look while the profile keeps the M's familiar greenhouse. A few newer styling cues are seen in the sculpted hindquarters and wide taillights, both inspired by the E-Class.

Inside the 2012 M-Class, there is a greater sense of luxury, with plenty of handsomely stitched leather, more rounded design cues than the rest of the Mercedes line and up-to-date switchgear quality and functionality. This year, there are also a few different interior styling options to choose from, such as quilted leather upholstery and matte-finish wood accents. Although the second-row seat can accommodate three passengers, it is sculpted to provide greater comfort for two. No third-row seat will be offered at first, but one will become available a few years down the road to appease that vocal minority who've asked for one.

Under the new skin, key improvements have been made in both performance and fuel efficiency. The volume-selling ML350 V6 has more power and delivers better fuel economy than before, as does the ML350 Bluetec turbodiesel. Then there are the V8-powered models, the ML550 and ML63 AMG, for those who want their SUV to accelerate like a sports car (and don't mind the commensurate appetite for fuel). This year there is no hybrid M-Class. Our pick of the litter is the Bluetec, which offers the stout power down low that makes a near-5,000-pound SUV feel light on its feet, while also returning respectable fuel efficiency.

More powerful, more capable and with a nicer cabin than ever before, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class nonetheless has some tough competition. Its chief rival is once again the BMW X5, but there are also the less expensive Acura MDX and Lexus RX as worthy choices. As for similarly priced and sized rivals, the aforementioned X5 and the Porsche Cayenne both offer more driving involvement and response, especially from their steering. As any of these will provide more than enough luxury and performance for most folks, we'd encourage you to conduct back-to-back test-drives of any that strike your fancy.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a five-passenger midsize luxury SUV available in ML350, ML350 Bluetec, ML550 and ML63 AMG trim levels.

The ML350 and ML350 Bluetec are equipped similarly with standard 19-inch wheels, a sunroof, a power liftgate, foglamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power/heated front seats, reclining rear seats, MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, the COMAND electronics interface, Bluetooth, the TeleAid emergency telematics service and an eight-speaker sound system with HD radio, a CD player and USB/auxiliary jacks.

The ML550 adds 19-inch AMG wheels, running boards, a trailer hitch and rear seat side airbags. Other than the wheels, all of these items are available on the 350 trims.

Options include the Premium 1 package, which includes a rearview camera, power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming rearview/sideview mirrors, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver memory functions, a navigation system, voice controls, satellite radio, an iPod interface and 10GB of digital music storage. The Premium 2 package includes all Premium 1 equipment plus keyless ignition/entry, heated/cooled cupholders, a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system and ambient cabin lighting.

There are other packages as well. The Dynamic Handling package includes 20-inch alloy wheels and an air suspension with adaptive dampers and stabilizer bars. The Lighting package includes adaptive bi-xenon headlights (with washers) as well as corner-illuminating lights. The Lane Tracking package includes blind-spot warning and lane departure warning. The Driver Assistance package adds active cruise control (with active PreSafe braking) to the contents of the Lane Tracking package. An off-road package with selectable terrain modes will debut a bit later in the model year.

Individual option highlights include a panoramic sunroof, active park assist, a night vision camera, triple-zone climate control, full leather seating, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a rear seat entertainment system, two-tone leather upholstery and different cabin accents (metallic and wood).

The ML63 AMG gets a twin-turbo V8, active roll stabilization, stronger brakes, AMG-tuned suspension and steering, 20-inch wheels, special leather upholstery, sport seats and unique styling elements inside and out. The Premium 2, Lighting and Lane Tracking packages are standard as well. The AMG Performance package raises engine output and adds a higher top speed. Also optional are 21-inch AMG wheels along with most of the other trims' extra equipment.

Powertrains and Performance

The ML350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard for the ML350 as well as all other M-Class models. In Edmunds performance testing, an ML350 went from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, which is average for its class. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined.

The ML350 Bluetec has a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that utilizes 50-state-legal clean-diesel technology. It produces 240 hp and a prodigious 455 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes estimates that it will go from zero to 60 in the same time as the gas ML350, but fuel economy improves to 20/27/22.

The ML550 gets a 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes says it'll hit 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15/20/17.

The ML63 AMG gets a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 518 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The AMG Performance package bumps this engine up to 550 hp and 560 lb-ft. Mercedes says the ML63 will hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds in its standard form, while the Performance package knocks a tenth of a second off that. Fuel economy stands at 14/18/15.


Standard safety equipment includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist and hill-descent control, active front head restraints, the mbrace emergency communications system, PreSafe (it anticipates an imminent crash and automatically takes measures to better secure occupants), front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. The optional Lane Tracking package includes blind spot warning and lane departure warning.

In Edmunds brake testing, an ML350 came to a stop from 60 mph in 114 feet, which is outstanding for such a heavy vehicle with all-season tires.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class features an upscale cabin and seating for five. This year brings more personalization options as well, with two-tone upholstery and various wood and metallic accents to choose from. The more rounded dash design reminds us more of the distantly related Jeep Grand Cherokee in its appearance than its squared-off Mercedes siblings, but that's more of an aesthetic critique. The COMAND interface works well and allows the driver to easily select the car's more complicated infotainment options without making simpler commands too difficult.

Passenger room is impressive, as the M-Class offers more rear legroom than most of its competitors. There's no third row offered, though. With the rear seats in place, there is a total of 36 cubic feet of luggage space. When the seats are folded flat, this expands to 71 cubes -- an average figure for this class of vehicle.

Driving Impressions

Though the acceleration numbers of the gas and diesel V6s are similar, there are two distinct personalities here. As expected, the turbodiesel V6 provides strong low-end grunt, which tapers off as the revs climb. The gas V6 takes the opposite tack, feeling a bit soft off the mark but giving a more potent higher-rpm rush. If you want more power or just the status of the numerically higher badge, the turbocharged ML550 and ML63 AMG will happily oblige. Both models are exceptionally quick. No matter which ML you choose, braking performance is strong and reassuring.

On a winding road, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 tends to roll a bit when pressed, but the ride is compliant without being floaty. Those who want more of a sport sedan flavor in their SUV can opt for that Dynamic Handling package that does an impressive job of quelling body motions. The new, all-electric steering system is a bit of a disappointment, however, as it's overly light and doesn't provide the sort of subtle feedback we've come to expect from Mercedes-Benz. The ML63 is better in this regard, as you would hope from such a high-performance machine.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Nu-blu...more than a year in

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Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 BlueTEC 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 7A)

I have had my 2012 ML 350 Bluetec without any issues for over a year near 20k miles. It has proven to be a tried/true work horse and I have no regrets. I have averaged an indicated 23 mpg during this period and on long Hwy seen about 29mpg driving a constant 80mph. Most of my commute is stop/go city w/limited fwy and it still gets 23-25 if you don't bury your foot to feel that strong 455ft lbs of torque. I'm truly convinced that this is a great overall vehicle and am glad I chose this powertrain. FYI think about it..for about $1500 extra at purchase it holds its value advantage of $5000-9000 or more than the gas engine over the same ownership period! IMHO that is money in the bank .

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

Terrible service from mercedes

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Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 BlueTEC 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 7A)

In 2012 I researched purchasing either a Mercedes or Acura. I had exceptionally great service with Acura in the past but chose Mercedes and assumed their service would meet the same expectation. I was wrong. I ordered running boards over a year ago and still have not received them. I now had to take my rubber drivers side mat into dealership due to a recall and am told not to hold my breath for the new one. Mercedes called me to say I would be put on their "preferred" list...but still have not received these items and they could not give me an eta on them. Waiting over a year for parts is insane. I wonder what the future will hold when I need service/parts ordered. I looked at Acura today..

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

The worst vehicle i ever

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Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 BlueTEC 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 7A)

I purchased my 2012 ML350 Bluetec back in November 2011. After 2 weeks, the first problem I had was car was pulling to the right at highway speed. After left it with the dealer for about a week, they finally realized that it was bad tire which took them a few more days to get replacement. Next, I was having problem with car loosing power when driving over a long distance or for a few hours. There is no error message on the dashboard nor that the dealer can replicate. Anyway, I start documenting them on video using my phone. They finally acknowledge but still no solution for it. Along with the car loosing power, I was getting error with PRE-SAFE Inoperative error and Ad-Blue low level

19 of 33 people found this review helpful


by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 BlueTEC 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 7A)

I recently have purchased this nu ML-Bluetech after having 3 E-class benz's 2-350s 1-550 models 2007,2008 and 2010. My plan was to keep my 2010 E-550 for another year or so but during the past few months I had been looking at Suv's:Ford Edge,Jeep Grand Cherokee,BMW X5 Diesel and VW Toureag TDI/Audi Q7 TDI. Having shopped these others 1st, I took a chance a drove the 2012 Bluetech and I was presently surprised. The upgraded new interior and added torque really raised the bar against the others I was considering. Edge my ford touch?..Jeep Great Drive not efficient, X5 Sporty but too pricey w/options desired near 70k and VW Group Great overall but MB has a long/proven diesel history undisputed.

10 of 18 people found this review helpful

Open dts case for misfiring

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Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 BlueTEC 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 7A)

Love the looks, mileage and ride of the ML blueTec, but having to drive for a mile or so, every morning since I drove it off the lot, misfiring is getting old! Upon returning it to the dealer I was told that there were numerous open complaints on the issue, but a fix was not yet available. They hope to have a fix out soon.....$57k and I need to drive a misfiring Mercedes through my neighborhood every morning.....I guess that will teach me for buying the first year of a new body style. So now I wait.......or do I start the lemon law process...time will tell...

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Love it!!!!

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350 BlueTEC 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 7A)

Have had the car for a few weeks now.Bluetec. Getting 32 miles per gallon roughly. Beautiful interior. Love the lane change add. It is a definite must have. Heated seats are wonderful, legroom in the back seat is roomy,back seats recline a bit. Trunk space big enough for 2 sets of golf clubs and suitcases. I have no complaints so far.

Talk About The 2012 M-Class

Read more about the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
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