$39,750 – $48,500 MSRP
$36,968 – $45,105 Invoice
14 / 19 MPG City/Hwy
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Mercedes-Benz introduced its U.S.-built M-Class sport utility vehicle in 1998. For the 2006 model year, the factory in Vance, Alabama rolls out an all-new and second-generation M-Class. This new version is redesigned inside and out, draws power from a V-8 or all-new V-6 engine, and sends power to all four wheels through a new seven-speed automatic transmission and an updated four-wheel-drive traction system.
When Mercedes-Benz entered the SUV market, it did so with a ground-up design that resulted in the first SUV of its size to feature four-wheel independent suspension. Now comes the all-new second generation, and this one is redesigned inside and out and features a variety of new technologies.
The 2006 ML350 and ML500 are nearly six inches longer and three inches wider (but also two-tenths of an inch lower) than their predecessors. The wheelbase is also nearly four inches longer, which should produce an even smoother and more comfortable ride and provide more room for backseat passengers. The M-Class seats five occupants in two rows. It also provides nearly 30 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the occupied second row, and more than 72 cubic feet with the second row in its folded position.
The M-Class exterior not only has been enlarged, but redesigned for a much more contemporary appearance. The interior also is new, and, compared to the 2005 model, provides two more inches of legroom for the driver and front-seat passenger and two additional inches for those sitting in the second row. The M-Class is equipped with active and passive safety features, including an Electronic Stability Program designed to keep the vehicle on its intended path in addition to front, side, and side-curtain airbags.
The ML350 is powered by a 268-hp, 3.5L V-6 engine that is part of Mercedes' new family of V-6 engines with four valves per cylinder, double-overhead camshafts, and variable valve timing, which are all designed to enhance power delivery and fuel efficiency. The ML500 is powered by a 302-hp, 5.0L V-8 engine. Power from either engine is routed through a seven-speed automatic transmission to an updated, full-time four-wheel drive system. Height-adjustable air suspension is available.
The Mercedes-Benz M-Class competes in the highly competitive Midsize Premium Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) segment, where luxury features and build quality are the price of admission for automakers.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Lexus RX Series is the sales leader in this segment, with more than 100,000 units (108,775) sold in calendar year 2005. Other strong sellers include the Acura MDX (57,948), BMW X5 (37,598), Volvo XC90 (35,976), Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (34,959), Infiniti FX-Series (26,786), and Cadillac SRX (22,999). Other competitors include the new Audi Q7, Lincoln Aviator, Mercedes-Benz R-Class, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg, and the Volvo XC70.