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2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Overview
The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is all new for 2012 and ready to change the game again thanks to one very impressive overhaul. Style was never a problem, so you won't find many changes to the outside, but everything from performance to the cabin to safety considerations has been totally revamped to create the perfect SUV for anyone whose budget is not a major concern.
Although the Hybrid, ML63 AMG and ML550 V8 are still in the works, the present lineup is already suited to nearly any driver without adding unnecessary confusion with umpteen different trims. For instance, the two M-Class trims debuting for 2012 can be made into a sport SUV just by adding the new Dynamic Handling package, which does an amazing job of reducing body roll and adding confidence to cornering posture—not that it needed improvement, but if you want something sportier before Mercedes-Benz gets the AMG out, there's your way to it.
The only tough choice for 2012 is whether to go with the ML350 4MATIC gas or ML350 BlueTEC diesel. Even though they both hit 60 mph in just over 7 seconds and come with all-wheel drive and a 7-speed automatic, the two engines each have a distinct personality all their own. The DOHC 3.5-liter gas V6 pulls no punches at highway passing with 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The 3-liter turbodiesel V6, on the other hand, launches off the start with 240 hp and a jaw-dropping 455 lb-ft of torque - and gets about 3 mpg more than the gas version at 20 mpg city/25 highway.
The list of new features for 2012 is mind-bogglingly long. For starters, the enhanced voice-command system now recognizes accents and different language dialects to control the phone, navigation, music and every electronic essential. New standard features for 2012 include Attention Assist, Agility Control suspension, adaptive brake and hold functionality, HD radio and 9 airbags for an unprecedented level of safety for all 5 passengers. Speaking of passengers, rear headroom now accommodates taller passengers, and the second row is sculpted for two passengers to ride in greater comfort if that's all the room you need. Should you need more, keep your eyes and ears peeled for the arrival of the M-Class's third-row option.
As for new options available right here and now, the Premium 1 package carries over unchanged, but the Premium 2 package now includes climate-controlled cupholders and a rear storage compartment. A new Lane Tracking package offers Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping assist, while a new Driver Assistance Package offers Active Blind Spot Assist, and Active Lane Keeping Assist alongside Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe Brake, which detects other cars on the road via radar and engages the brakes if someone gets a bit too close. A new lighting package will be offered mid-year that will provide a headlamp cleaning system, adaptive high beams and bi-xenon headlights with active curve assist and corner-illuminating lights.
There's more, but at this point I'm sure you're itching to give it a test - so I will leave you the joy of discovering the M-Class in full on your own.
by Patricia Mayo
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