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by Jason Giacchino

Since its introduction in the SUV happy days of 1997, the M-Class has been a proven seller for Mercedes-Benz. That trend has not waned in the slightest, as the 2011 M-Class has been one of the best selling models for the three pointed star. But that’s not to say greatness can’t be improved upon. With this in mind, Mercedes brings us the newly redesigned, next generation 2012 M-Class. 


The world was a very different place in 1997.  Gasoline was
$1.22 a gallon, movie tickets were going for $4.29 a seat and at 21,
Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer ever to win the Masters (and may
or may not have enjoyed the victory with an Applebees waitress).  Also
filling the zeitgeist was a global obsession for the charms of the SUV.

Not
being anyone’s dummy, Mercedes decided the time had come to offer an
SUV entry. The 1998 M-Class combined the styling, reputation and
performance of MB’s luxury cars with the practicality and burliness of
the SUV mindset.  The Mercedes-Benz W163 featured a midsize
body-on-frame SUV with seating for 5 or 7 with an optional third-row
seat.  This platform would endure on through 2005, until the W164
arrived and held court through 2011.

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For
2012, the M-Class is a new animal once again.  Designating the new
chassis W166, the 2012 M-Class officially launched in September of 2011
with a host of innovations including an updated 7G-Tronic seven-speed
automatic transmission (to provide improved fuel economy), optional
Adaptive Cruise Control (Distronic Plus), Active Lane Departure Warning
System, and an adjustable-height air suspension (AirMatic).

With
your choice of a new-generation 302-hp gasoline V-6 or a torque-rich yet
fuel-stingy 240-hp clean-diesel BlueTEC V-6, the 2012 M-Class is all
about smooth, strong power output. Channeled through a paddle-shifted
7-speed automatic transmission, the torrential output of either engine
is delivered with instant response and enduring efficiency.

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Standard 19-inch wheels team up with a 4-wheel independent multilink
suspension with Agility Control, an innovation that instantly
recalibrates the shock absorbers with every change in the road surface.
An optional Dynamic Handling Package combines AirMatic air suspension
with a new Active Curve System for an uncanny balance of silky comfort
and confident cornering.

Standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive
integrates 4-wheel Electronic Traction System and continually
redistributes the engine´s torque to the wheels with the best grip, even
if that’s only one wheel. And with a permanent 50:50 front/rear torque
split, 4MATIC is designed to offer sporty handling on dry roads, too.

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With heated 8-way power front seats and reclining rear seats, the
M-Class accommodates five passengers in a haven of comfort. The rear
seats flip and fold flat in a 60/40 split, to accommodate up to 71 cubic
feet of cargo in a versatile variety of configurations.

Featuring a generous 7,200-lb towing capacity when outfitted with optional hitch, the M-Class
is built to pull a trailer with confidence. Whenever you’re towing,
standard Trailer Stability Assist acts decisively to rein in trailer
sway.

The ML350 (gasoline) M-Class, rated at 302 horsepower,
starts at $48,900 and the ML350 BlueTec (diesel) package, good for 240
hp, begins at $50,490.

For all the latest chatter about the new M-Class, head over to the Forums!

 
 
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