The 2004 Mercedes-Benz ML500 was virtually unchanged from the previous year's model. One of two vehicles in the automaker's M-Class (the other being the ML350), the 2004 ML500 still offered drivers a lot of features and options for the price. The standard package started with a 5.0-liter, 288-hp V8 engine linked to a five-speed automatic transmission with Touch Shift, which enabled the driver to manually upshift or downshift by holding the shift lever to the left or right.
To that, Mercedes added such features as a DVD-based GPS navigation system, a traction control with a "crawl" mode for ascents or descents in slippery conditions at slow speeds, eight airbags (including front, side, and curtain-style head-protection bags), a climate control system with an electrostatic dust filter, heated eight-way power front seats, leather upholstery, burl walnut trim, velour carpeting, and electronic cruise control.
In addition, a number of upgrade packages were available, including a Comfort Package that added memory front seats, power folding mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers; and an Inspiration Edition that added leather sports seats, poplar wood trim, six-spoke wheels, and a silver-colored grille.
Overall, drivers liked the vehicle's power, styling, safety features, and luxury amenities, though some noted that the vehicle continued to be plagued by quality and reliability issues, and that some parts, such as tires and brakes, required frequent replacement. "Wobbling" and alignment issues at relatively low mileage were also noted by some drivers.