The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a four-door, five-passenger sport-utility vehicle. When the Mercedes-Benz M-Class first appeared on the scene in 1997, it was one of the first luxury sport-utility vehicles to make a splash on the market. It wasn’t long before the M-Class had become the leading light of this segment, and the vehicle that other luxury car companies tried to emulate as they played catch-up. The M-Class also provided the company with a new, strong foothold in the American market, and this was a position that they exploited to its maximum potential, bringing a wider product line up to the United States and increasing their market share dramatically.

The Mercedes-Benz M-Class rides on a platform that was last re-designed in 2006. The sturdy, full-size SUV has a distinctly more car-like ride, thanks in part to increased frame-strength and a lowered overall height. There are three different versions of the M-Class on sale in the United States, sorted by the engine which is found under the hood.

The entry-level Mercedes ML320 is powered by an innovative 3.0 liter turbo-diesel engine which provides an breathtaking 394 lb-ft of torque in addition to 215 horsepower. This allows the ML320 to accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a mere 8.0 seconds, while still maintaining fuel economy that ranges from 18 miles per gallon in the city to 24 miles per gallon on the highway. These spectacular numbers for a vehicle of this size and with this level of performance.

The ML350 employs a more mainstream 3.5 liter V6 engine which provides the same level of acceleration but with 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The king of the gasoline powered ML’s is the ML550. Pushing down on the gas pedal in this V8 SUV unleashes 382 horsepower and 391 ft-lbs of torque. The sprint to 60 miles per hour breezes by in 5.6 seconds, an astonishing figure for such a heavy vehicle, but all of this performance comes at price: fuel economy is a dismal 13 miles per gallon in city driving and 18 miles per gallon on the highway. All versions of the ML are equipped with an ultra-modern 7-speed automatic transmission, and Mercedes-Benz’s capable all-wheel drive system.

Mercedes-Benz has built their reputation in North America on the back of its splendid luxury features, and the M-Class is no exception. This longer and wider version of the SUV has a great range of creature comforts and convenience options. The most impressive accommodations can be found in the ML550, which boasts tri-zone climate control, 8-way adjustable power leather seats, a heated steering wheel and a rear-seat entertainment system which enables passengers to be babysat by DVD movies on long trips. A rear-view camera and voice-controlled navigation and vehicle systems round out the list of luxury options.

The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is not only an extremely comfortable and spacious 5 passenger hauler, but it also boasts a great deal of off-road utility as well. The all-wheel drive system, combined with electronic stability control and a height-adjustable air-suspension system means that the M-Class can take care of anything that Mother Nature – or a busy 5-lane highway – can dish out.