It should come as no surprise that the Mercedes-Benz ML320 shot right to the high end of the sport utility vehicle category when it was introduced for the 1998 model year. Reviewers raved about its smoothness over the road, its "quiet power," and its "flawless" engine and transmission.
With the all-wheel-drive ML320, Mercedes started from scratch, rather than build the vehicle from an existing platform, as some other automakers have done with their SUVs. In addition to its performance capabilities and luxury appointments, safety features were a big part of the ML320, which had a reinforced steel body, anti-intrusion bars on all doors, front and rear crumple zones, and front- and side-impact airbags. Power was provided by a 3.2-liter single-overhead-cam V6 engine linked to a five-speed automatic transmission. Anti-lock disc brakes and four-wheel double-wishbone suspension, a first for vehicles of its type, were also part of the package.
Standard features included bucket seats, cruise control, power heated mirrors, a tilt steering wheel, power windows and door locks, a lighted entry system, traction control, alloy wheels, and fog lights.