There's a ballnce shaft problem where MB extended the warantee for 10 years on this $5,800 job. One dealer did not know about it. They still hit me $1,800 to replace defective intake manifold that was not covered. This car has a computer from hell giving false signals on light bulbs etc. Not nearly as reliable as my 99 E430. Truck ate about $10k in repairs this year. I expected a lot better quality from MB but this is true for all German cars lately. Why pay this kind of money when cars casting half are more reliable?
I've had this car for 5.5 years now. It's been great to us and has never left us stranded. This is a car that needs an owner that timely addresses all preventive maintenance items before they become repair items, because then it gets expensive. The all wheel drive system is great and it is like a tank in rain and snow. Solid! Good power. Very comfy ride. Plenty of room.
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.
The 2006 ML 350 has more than enough power especially when bolted to the 7 speed automatic transmission. I do not know why anyone would purchase the ML500 after driving the ML350. Acceleration is adequate to any task short of the drag strip. The car is extremely quiet even at high speeds. The Harmon Kardon stereo is the best factory set-up I have heard and is significantly better than the Bose systems I have had. I do not like the cruise control stalk as it is too close to the turn signal stalk. You must also pay close attention to options as they can be confusing. Overall an excellent SUV and MB provides lifetime roadside assistance at no additional cost!
I've owned this car since new, and I've only recently had to invest serious money in repairs (after 10yrs). While the leather on the driver's seat has suffered a bit, the rest of the interior has born up well. The paint remains as new. The transmission has had intermittent issues, but those problems have mysteriously vanished. I've never had problems with the AWD system or hill-descent control, which I've used extensively. I've just had to spend $5k on myriad repairs, but when amortized over 10yrs, the cost of ownership has been acceptable. All it all, it's been one of the better cars I've owned and still looks and drives great. The driving position is very comfortable for taller drivers (I'm 6'5") and even with the driver's seat adjusted for me, the passenger behind the driver still has reasonable room. The engine has never missed a beat after 132000 miles, and the electrics are still working as new. My primary complaint has been the quality of the switchgear which is rather poor, and a twitchy left signal light that fails and recovers all on it's own. The window switches on the driver's side have repeatedly popped out and I can no longer use the sunroof due to a dodgy switch (don't like the sunroof anyway). That and I have to agree that the UI on the nav system is a bit of a pain. Overall I have to say that my main complaint is that it will be very hard to replace this car once it packs it in. The new ones are silly and far too Japanese-looking IMHO.
The 3.5-liter V6 is an impressive engine in terms of horsepower efficiency, but its not powerful enough to move the ML with real punch. The 7-speed automatic shifts on its own, even when the driver tries to shift manually. Low end torque is particularly lacking for an SUV
The ML is about average in terms of ABS noise and vibration (you can feel it but its not obtrusive). We noted some front end dive, but its acceptable for an SUV. There seems to be more tire squeel necessary. No fade was apparent and the stops were relatively short for a large SUV.
The stability control program is frustrating, as it continues to invervene while slalom testing even when its supposedly turned off. We were also aggrevated that the transmission wouldn't hold a gear, meaning it upshifts during slalom runs when we manually shift it to second or third. Steering feel and feedback are decent and body roll is well controlled, but the overall impression was that this is an average performer at best in the slalom.