2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec First Look and Review

Page 2 of 2
  • Share


I renamed Mercedes “Attention Assist” feature the “Coffee Cup Assist” (a small coffee cup logo is visible on the dash when the feature is active) and this important safety feature alerts the driver to the fact that he may be a bit sleepy (drowsiness is the cause of more than 100,000 accidents per year in the U.S. alone).

Drowsiness doesn’t set in suddenly; rather, it builds up over a period of time.  In the first 20 minutes of a drive, the car establishes a profile for the driver.  If a driver is sleepy, the subtle changes in the driver’s steering wheel input will reveal a potential problem

Based on the profile, if the driver appears to be driving somewhat erratically at speeds over 80 km/h (50 mph), the car beeps and flashes an Attention Assist warning (“Time for a Rest?”) on the dashboard.

(At the official launch of the new M-Class, I suggested to Ernst Lieb, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, that Starbucks might be interested in a tie-in where the navigation system would route drivers to the nearest Starbucks location for a cup of coffee when drowsiness was detected. He said he would study the matter.)

Other safety features include a lane departure warning system, a blind spot alert, and bi-xenon headlamps with automatic high-beam switching. New to the M-Class is Distronic Plus radar-controlled cruise control with Pre-Safe braking.  If the system detects that the car in front suddenly slows down or stops, it automatically engages as much as 40% of available braking power and primes the brakes to deliver full braking power when the driver steps on the pedal.  If the system calculates a potential impact and the driver does not react to an audible alert and brake, the Pre-Safe system will brake automatically.

When the previous-generation M-Class diesel received a mid-life refresh, it also received a new name, going from ML320 BlueTec to ML350 BlueTec .  Back then, the engine, despite the new name indicating greater displacement and power, remained the same.  The new ML350 BlueTec goes from 400 to 455 pound-feet of torque, a 14% increase.  It also gets a horsepower boost, from 210 to 240.  Despite the increase in power, the name stays the same this time, but fuel economy goes up from 18 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway to 20 city/25 highway.

The M-Class line also gets a new seven-speed transmission with an advanced torque converter lock-up clutch that promises better fuel economy and greater responsiveness and durability.

Finally, diesel fans can rejoice in the relocation of the urea tank and filler nozzle.  The tank no longer takes up what would normally be the spare tire well, so the diesel variant now comes with a spare tire and the AdBlue can be added from a port next to the fuel port on the side of the car.

The new Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec and its gasoline-powered sibling will be appearing in dealerships in the U.S. in September.  I spent several days in Missoula, Montana driving the ML350 BlueTec and that report will be filed shortly.


2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec
Base price/price-as-tested $50,490/$60,535
Drivetrain Front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel
HP/Torque (pound-feet) 240/455
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Curb weight  (lbs) TBA
Wheelbase  (inches) 114.8
Length x width x height  (inches) 189.1 x 84.3 x 70.7
0-60 mph (seconds) 7.3
City/highway fuel economy (mpg) 20/25



Pages: 1 2