Used 2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Diesel
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class should make a fine choice for shoppers desiring SUV versatility along with the traditional Mercedes traits of quality, prestige and safety.
In the late 1990s, Mercedes-Benz was one of the first automakers to recognize America's desire for a luxury-themed SUV. The original ML, while truckish in nature and plagued by early quality problems, was a solid sales success. Last year, Mercedes introduced the second-generation M-Class, and in almost all aspects it's a better vehicle. Still a midsize luxury SUV meant for five passengers, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is now more on-road oriented thanks to a unibody structure and a revised suspension design that combine to provide improved handling and comfort. Other upgrades for the second generation include sleeker exterior styling, a higher-quality interior and new engines.
For the 2007 M-Class, Mercedes-Benz has released two new trim levels. The first, the ML320 CDI, is diesel-powered. Its 3.0-liter turbocharged engine is capable of 215 horsepower and a stout 398 pound-feet of torque and, like most diesels, provides impressive fuel mileage and range -- more than 600 miles between fill-ups is possible, says Mercedes. Buyers should be aware, however, that the ML320 CDI is not for sale in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York or Vermont due to tighter diesel emissions standards in those states.
For maximum acceleration, there's the new ML63 AMG. A successor to the original ML55 AMG, the ML63 AMG features an all-new 507-hp V8 developed specifically by AMG's engineers. Impressively, this power comes about without the help of supercharging or turbocharging. Zero to 60 mph takes fewer than 5 seconds. This AMG model is also equipped with more powerful brakes and a sport-tuned version of the optional air suspension system. Though the point of fitting a 500-hp engine to a top-heavy SUV weighing 2.5 tons is lost on many driving enthusiasts, there's no denying that the ML63 AMG is impressive for what it is. It also happens to undercut the price of its closest competitor, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, by a significant margin.
When judged against other SUVs in the $50,000 price range, the Mercedes faces some very competent vehicles. The Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and BMW X5 are all-new this year, and the Cayenne, Lexus RX 350 and Volkswagen Touareg continue to be solid choices, as well. Overall, we're impressed with the 2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and it should make a fine choice for shoppers valuing the ML's versatility along with the traditional Mercedes traits of quality, prestige and safety. Downsides? The lack of a third-row seat is an obvious omission, but Mercedes dealers will no doubt point you to the R-Class or new GL-Class if you truly need six- or seven-passenger capacity. The only other issue that will likely give you pause is price; equipped with a fair number of options, the M can often end up being one of the more expensive vehicles in this segment.
trim levels & features
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a midsize luxury SUV that seats five. There are four trim levels available: ML350, ML320 CDI, ML500 and ML63 AMG. The ML350 and 320 CDI are equipped similarly and come standard with 17-inch wheels, heated exterior mirrors, Tele Aid, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, maple wood interior trim, the COMAND interface and a CD player with an auxiliary input jack. The ML500 has this equipment plus 18-inch wheels and heated front seats. The ML63 AMG features special interior and exterior styling details, as well as a sport-tuned air suspension, 20-inch wheels, stronger brakes and sport seats.
For the regular MLs, a large collection of options -- most of which are bundled in packages -- are available for further customization. Highlights (depending on the trim level) include an AMG sport appearance package with 19-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, park assist, adaptive cruise control, adaptive xenon HID headlights, a sunroof and a power liftgate. For the interior, MB offers tri-zone climate control, deluxe multicontour front seats with heaters, leather upholstery, a premium Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system.
performance & mpg
Each trim level has a distinct engine. The ML350 has Mercedes' corporate 3.5-liter V6; it develops 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 is found in the ML320 CDI. It provides 215 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque and has EPA fuel economy estimates of 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway. The 5.0-liter V8 in the ML500 is capable of 302 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. For the ML63 AMG, Mercedes installs a 6.3-liter V8 that makes 503 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. All models are fitted with a seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Maximum tow capacity is 5,000 pounds.
Standard safety features on the 2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class include traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front side-impact bags and full-length head-protecting side-curtain airbags. Hill descent control and hill assist features are also included. 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. The IIHS gives the SUV a top score of "Good" for its protection of occupants in frontal-offset crashes.
Steering is precise, but doesn't offer much feedback and feels a little dead in the center. The brakes, however, supply a sure-footed pedal and stop this SUV quickly. Despite some body roll, the 4,788-pound, all-wheel-drive ML is a predictable and stable handler. In terms of acceleration, the ML350 possesses plenty of passing power, but feels a bit shy on torque from a stop. The new ML 320 CDI, being diesel-powered, is almost the opposite. If you want more punch off the line, spring for the V8-powered ML500 or ML63 AMG. The latter is capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in fewer than 5 seconds.
Large helpings of bird's eye maple wood and brushed aluminum trim help define the handsome instrument panel. Storage space is adequate, and the front console features very large cupholders. In the back, passengers have more than 39 inches of legroom to stretch out in, which is nearly 6 inches more than the RX 350 offers. Folding down the rear seat provides a maximum 72 cubic feet of cargo room.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
AMG didn't build its reputation for constructing manufacturer-warrantied engines with near racecar levels of output by going "easy." In 1999, an AMG-powered 349-horsepower ML55 held the super sport-utility crown alone — and many thought it was an absurd exercise in over-the-top engineering.
Now, in the ML63, AMG has produced a 503-hp all-wheel-drive sport-utility that has less than a handful of rivals: the 520-hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, 420-hp Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and, to a lesser degree, the 355-hp BMW X5 4.8is and 320-hp Infiniti FX45. Where does the 2007 ML63 AMG stand in this unlikely super-ute spectrum?
What your money buys
When it's released this coming August, expect the five-seat all-wheel-drive ML63 AMG to fetch around $70,000. As of this writing, pricing, options and fuel-economy figures are not yet available. What we can tell you is that the naturally aspirated 503-hp, 6.2-liter V8 found in the ML63 is just one of the applications for this first ever AMG-designed engine, also found in the CLK63, CLS63, E63 and R63, with various output levels from 475-507 hp.
For a start, the big-bore, all-aluminum 6.2 shares no parts or dimensions with Mercedes-Benz-designed/supplied production V8 engines. Borrowing from AMG racing engine technology, the cylinder heads use bucket tappets instead of rocker arms and the engine block is a closed-deck design that includes cast-in steel reinforcements and a rigid "bedplate" instead of individual main bearing caps. According to AMG, the 6.2 features a first for production engines with its "twin-wire-arc-sprayed" cylinder walls that are twice as hard as conventional cast-iron liners. This really is the stuff of exotic racing engines.
The new V8 also includes the usual list of modern engine optimizations like an electronic throttle, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing and variable-length intake runners. This is not a common engine, so don't expect to pay a common price for a vehicle that carries it, including the ML63 AMG.
All ahead full
Going on supplied specifications, the ML63 AMG boasts a 10.1 pound/hp weight-to-power ratio, nearly identical to the recently released 520-hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo S at 10.0 pound/hp. The comparison is a natural one; what that means is that AMG's claim of a 4.8-second run to 60 mph exactly matches the claim by Porsche, and both are completely within the realm of the possible. Coincidence? Our experience has shown both of these rivals' estimates are a bit conservative, and having driven both of them, we believe our inevitable full test of each will prove them even quicker.
But what distinguishes the ML63 from the Cayenne Turbo S is that AMG makes power the old-fashioned way — with more displacement, higher compression and a higher-revving V8 minus turbochargers. While the two super-utes offer the same results, they differ in the ways to get there. The power produced by the ML63's engine and taller gearing feels more like a slow but inevitable pull toward its 7,000-plus redline, whereas the Cayenne Turbo S surges like a pit bull tugging at its leash as each upshift occurs.
Coupled to the AMG-tuned seven-speed automatic transmission in Sport mode, the ML63 clicks off upshifts with the regularity of a metronome and the immediacy of a mouse click. If you'd prefer the Manual mode, the large buttons on the backside of the steering wheel work well for both up- and downshifting, as well. In normal conditions, the ML63's all-wheel-drive system distributes 40 percent of the driving power to the front axle and 60 percent to the rear, giving it a slight performance bias, and generally that works.
Despite having large 295/40R20 Continental Cross Contact UHP tires, a sophisticated driveline and three-way-selectable suspension damping system, nothing can alter the fact that the ML63 is a tallish, 5,000-plus-pound vehicle that would prefer not to turn. Combine that reality with its slow-ratio steering and the AMG SUV is, indeed, better in a straight line than it could ever be around corners.
Admittedly, a thin layer of chalky silt dusted most of the winding roads for our drive so the conditions weren't racetrack-perfect, but the stability program's telltale yellow triangle was blinking like a third turn signal on most corner entries. The ML63 understeered resolutely into, through and even exiting sharp corners. Only when the front wheels were pointed more or less straight did the stability system relax its stranglehold on the progress of the ML63. Luckily, its vented and cross-drilled disc brakes complement the high-performance engine and scrub speed prior to those inconvenient corners.
And if you were wondering if the ML63 was a capable off-roader as well? In a word, no. There's no off-road package, low-range transfer case or skid-plate package.
A good deal?
If the $112,000 price tag of a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S is the standard for a 500-plus-hp midsize sport-utility that runs sub-5-second 0-60 times, then the ML63 is a deal. Or if the looks of the new 2006 M-Class are already too common, the AMG package distinguishes itself from a $48,500 ML500 with a unique grille, front- and rear-end fascias, flared fenders and (silly) stainless-steel running boards, along with special sport seats, an AMG steering wheel, napa leather upholstery and stainless-steel sport pedals.
Oh, and also included is a 503-hp V8. So there's that. As with any AMG-built vehicle, the engine is the product for which a customer pays, and whatever surrounds it is merely the wrapper. This new AMG-designed engine is a jewel to be proud of, and we believe it's only the beginning of more 6.2-liter variants on the way. We're also told the 6.2 fits under the hood of the C-Class. Can you imagine what AMG could do with a turbo- or supercharged version of an engine that starts with 475 hp? Going on its previous record, expect the E63 and CL63 to be the big guns carrying the maximum horsepower rating later this year. Now there's a story worth waiting for.
Used 2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Diesel Overview
The Used 2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Diesel is offered in the following styles: , and ML320 CDI 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 7A).
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