2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Review

Used M-Class for sale
List Price Estimate:$1,435 - $2,492
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Safe, comfortable, car-like ride and handling, surefooted in bad weather.
  • Reputation for poor build quality, looks like a minivan from some angles, confounding COMAND navigation system.

With recent advances in safety, comfort, off-road ability and on-road performance, Mercedes should maintain a strong presence in the luxury SUV market.

Vehicle overview

Since the M-Class' introduction, Mercedes has made constant improvements to it, upping the feature content and performance, improving its looks and addressing the build-quality issues that plagued early models.

This year, new side-view mirrors with integral turn signals debut, as do clear lens headlights, chrome grille accents, front fog lamps and revised front and rear bumpers. Inside the cabin, vents are added to the rear of the console and electronic push buttons replace the old twist knobs on the climate control system.

Power underhood ranges from the ML320's peppy 215-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 to the stormin' 5.5-liter 342 horse V8 in the AMG-tweaked ML55. In between these two sits the new ML500, in essence, last year's ML430 with an authoritative and advanced 5.0-liter V8 that makes 288 horsepower -- 13 more ponies than the 4.3 that formerly resided under the hood. All engines are mated to a driver-adaptive five-speed automanual with TouchShift control for manual shifting.

Last year, two new features were introduced to improve off-road prowess; a downhill traction control system and a "crawling" mode. The downhill traction control system maintains a low vehicle speed when descending steep grades with loose footing by automatically applying the brakes. The crawling mode brings both traction control and ABS into play to maintain traction during especially technical climbing situations where the driver would be simultaneously feathering the brakes and the throttle. Both of these features operate only when "low" range is selected and speeds are under 12 mph (when descending) and under 3 mph (when ascending).

In addition to advanced drivetrain technology, safety features such as TeleAid (which will alert emergency personnel if an airbag deploys and can also put you in touch with a live operator to summon medical or police assistance), traction control, stability control, ABS, dual-stage "smart" airbags and 24-hour roadside assistance offer safety on par with Mercedes' best sedans. In fact, the M-Class is so crashworthy that the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety even rated it as the "Best Pick" in the SUV class in terms of occupant protection.

But don't buy this SUV just for safety reasons. The interior of the base ML320 features such niceties as automatic climate control and burled walnut trim, while the 500 model gets standard GPS navigation, 17-inch wheels and leather seats. A third-row seat can be had in either model. And to dress up the exterior there is a Sport package that features unique body cladding, a chrome exhaust tip and 17-inch alloy wheels. If the Sport package still isn't enough, consider the ML55, which includes that ripping V8 engine, 18-inch wheels, a power dome hood and red brake calipers.

The M-Class' combination of cutting-edge safety features, commendable on-road performance, plentiful creature comforts and 80.2 cubic feet of maximum cargo space make for a near-perfect luxury SUV.

But even with the recent drivetrain improvements, hard-core off-road aficionados will want to shop elsewhere for wheels. The M-Class, despite its boxed frame and four-wheel drive, is much more suited to the highway than to the Himalayas.

2002 Highlights

The ML430 is replaced by the ML500, which has a 5.0-liter V8 packing 288 horsepower. Over 1,100 parts of the truck have been modified, but the ML's exterior remains largely the same. New bumpers, clear-lens headlights and revised side mirrors are the most noticeable exterior changes. Inside, the center console sports a new look, and wood grain trim becomes standard on all models. A new automatic climate control system is now standard, and rear-seat passengers get dual cupholders and separate ventilation controls.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.88 out of 5 stars
Very safe & Solid SUV
ML500 AWD 4dr SUV (5.0L 8cyl 5A)
This is a very safe and solid SUV, while it may lack some bells and whistles; it has all that it needs to be a solid SUV. I’ve owned 4 of these, 1998 ML 320 2000 ML 320, 2001 ML 430, and 2002 ML 500. It was my wife’s vehicle, I bought this for her to keep her safe, and when a new safety feature was released I traded in the previous one for a new one (stability control, curtain airbags…) I lost her to cancer at 31 years old. So now I keep her ML500 in the garage all waxed and clean. Some people complain about that the tires and or brakes wear out around 20k miles, I’ve experienced this too, but keep in mind that this SUV is almost 5,000 pounds, twice as heavy as an average sedan.
4.63 out of 5 stars
King of the SUV world
Joe Mathai,02/02/2002
ML500 AWD 4dr SUV (5.0L 8cyl 5A)
My new ML500 is in one word, AWESOME. Its roomy, incredibly fast and stops on a dime. I did have a squeaky, rear hatch latch that was promptly fixed by the dealer. The ML 500 costs less than a smaller, slower BMW X5 which does not offer TeleAid or remote mechanical telemetry, standard on the Benz. I feel safe and secure driving the ML500 which feels just like the S500 in terms of ride quality. Its a true Benz and turns heads everywhere
5 out of 5 stars
2002 Mercedes ML-320
Alan Lawson,04/13/2016
ML320 AWD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 5A)
I bought this car back in 2012 for $7100 I believe it was actually worth somewhere around 9 or 10 grand but could be wrong but lets get down to the point...bought this car with 120,000 or so miles on it. Never had to work on this car all I ever did was kept my oil changed at every 5-7 thousand miles but calls for every 10k. I did have to replace an alternator and upper control arms due to worn out ball joints but that's normal for a car this old, the driving, handling and comfort of this car I loved it. I even drove this car on solid ice and didn't no it untill I parked and stepped out to feel the ground in solid ice. This has been the best car I ever owned and actually thinking about buying another one due to, I lost this car after my wife hit a telephone head on cause she dropped her drink in her lap and took her eyes off the road. Now this thing was built for safety and I'm still shocked at how tough this thing was, she walked away without a scratch or bruise. And most cars windshields crack or even bust after hitting a telephone pole at 70mph. This windshield did not. This thing is a safe and reliable car all in one. And that's one of the biggest reasons why I am considering buying another one just like it. You cannot go wrong with the ml320 wished I still had her sitting in my driveway
5 out of 5 stars
Great car!
ML320 AWD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 5A)
8 years- the car looks brand new. Leather in a perfect condition. All electronics work great! Never had any problems with the car. Fun to drive! I love it.


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Overview

The Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is offered in the following submodels: M-Class ML55 AMG, M-Class SUV. Available styles include ML55 AMG AWD 4dr SUV (5.4L 8cyl 5A), ML320 AWD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 5A), and ML500 AWD 4dr SUV (5.0L 8cyl 5A). Pre-owned Mercedes-Benz M-Class models are available with a 5.4 L-liter gas engine or a 3.2 L-liter gas engine or a 5.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 342 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a unlimited yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Classes are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Classs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz M-Class for sale - 2 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $20,324.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz for sale - 2 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $14,324.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz M-Class for sale - 12 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $12,298.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz for sale - 2 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $20,898.

Should I lease or buy a 2002 Mercedes-Benz M-Class?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Mercedes-Benz lease specials
Check out Mercedes-Benz M-Class lease specials