For 2009, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class gets a face-lift that includes a new front and rear bumper design, a new grille and redesigned headlights. Inside, updates include redesigned climate control buttons, a new optional rear-seat entertainment system and the latest version of Mercedes’ COMAND system, which includes Bluetooth phone connectivity. In addition, last year’s diesel-powered ML320 CDI model has been replaced by the ML320 Bluetec (which boasts a cleaner-burning fuel technology). For those who don’t need all-wheel drive, wouldn’t mind saving a few thousand dollars at purchase time and appreciate its slightly better fuel mileage, Mercedes now offers a rear-wheel-drive ML350.
Performance & mpg
The 2009 M-Class comes with a choice of four engines, and all come standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Apart from the ML350 rear-wheel-drive model, every M-Class trim level has all-wheel drive. The ML320 Bluetec has a 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 rated at 210 horsepower and a stout 398 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy ratings for this model are 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. The ML350 has a 3.5-litre V6 that makes 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and gets an estimated 15 city/20 highway and 17 mpg combined. The rear-wheel-drive ML350 gets 1 mpg better across the board.
Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, hill descent/ascent control and a full complement of airbags (front-seat side and full-length side curtain) are all standard. In government crash tests, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class posted perfect five-star scores in both frontals- and side-impact testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the SUV a top score of “Good” for its protection of occupants in frontal-offset crashes.
Steering is precise on the 2009 Mercedes M-Class, but it doesn’t offer much feedback and feels a little dead in the centre. There is some body roll around corners, which is to be somewhat expected from a near 5,000-pound AWD SUV, but the M-Class stays predictable and stable on the road. Braking is quite good; a sure-footed pedal and quick response make for confident stopping power.
A warm, upscale character is conveyed throughout the cockpit of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class, thanks to a combination of wood and aluminium trims. Passenger room is impressive; rear seating offers more than 39 inches of legroom, nearly 6 inches more than the Lexus RX 350 provides. With the rear seats in place, there is a total of 29 cubic feet of luggage space. When the seats are folded flat, that expands to 72 cubes, an average figure for this class of vehicle. A variety of cubbies throughout the cabin, as well as large front cupholders, prove useful on road trips.