Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec Review and Test Drive

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ON THE ROAD WITH THE ML350 BLUETEC

The first thing you notice about the M-Class diesel is that you don’t notice anything unusual, at least not anything terribly different from what you would expect from a gasoline-powered M-Class.

From the passenger compartment, it is almost impossible to detect any diesel-like engine noise and most of my passengers were quite surprised to learn they were in a diesel.  Had I refrained from revealing this secret, they probably would never have known.

The M350 BlueTec comes with the Mercedes-Benz 4Matic all-wheel drive system, which we found provides excellent traction and stability on both wet and dry roads.

The ride is smooth, confident, and sedan-like and passengers are isolated from all but the most severe bumps and potholes.

Although 210 hp isn’t much, the 400 pound-feet of torque that comes in at 1600 rpm gives the M-Class a certain oomph.  We complained back in 2009 that the ML320 BlueTec was slow yet we found the rebadged ML350 BlueTec to be far peppier.  (Perhaps the badge did have an impact but there are lots of reasons why our earlier test car might have felt slow including how it was broken in and the driving styles of previous drivers.)

Passing cars on the highway or accelerating on an on ramp, while it didn’t set any speed records, felt normal and I felt the torque kick in quite nicely.

Around town, on drives of 20-30 miles (32-48 kilometers), we saw fuel economy averaging 20.1 mpg (11.7 l/100 km).   On the highway, we saw 23 mpg (10.2 l/100 km) in fuel usage.

Good fuel economy isn’t all that comes with the ML350 BlueTec.  The SUV has a maximum towing capability of 7,200 pounds (3,266 kg).

The gasoline version has a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 268 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque.  Both cars accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0-96 km/h) in almost the same time. The diesel takes 8 seconds to get there according to Mercedes; the gasoline variant takes 7.9  The diesel gets 20% better fuel economy, with an EPA rating of 18 mpg (13 l/100 km) city and 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) highway while the petrol version is rated at 15 mpg (15.6 l/100 km) city and 20 mpg (11.8 l/10 km)  highway.

Bottom Line

Mercedes-Benz buyers expect their vehicles to be serious, safe, and solid and the ML350 BlueTec delivers on this expectation.  The ML350 BlueTec has a range of 600 miles (966 kilometers) on one tank of diesel fuel, a lot of torque, and superior tow capabilities (to get the same tow rating as the ML350 BlueTec, a Mercedes buyer would have to get the ML 550, which has an EPA fuel economy rating of 13 mpg city and 18 highway),

The premium for the diesel is only $1500 over the ML350 4Matic and, as the price of fuel continues to increase, more buyers will get the oil burner.  Indeed, in 2010, roughly one out of seven buyers did exactly that.

 

2011 Mercedes-Benz ML-350 BlueTec
Base Price, Price as Tested $50,490/$60,480
Drivetrain Front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 

 

3.0 l/turbocharged V-6
HP/Torque (pound-feet) 218/400
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Curb weight (lbs) 

 

4,974
Wheelbase (inches) 

 

114.7 

 

Length x width x height (inches) 191.7 x 75.9 x 57.7
0-60 mph (seconds) 8.0
Fuel economy (mpg) ()  

 

18/25

 

THE MERCEDES-BENZ ML350 BLUETEC

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