The Mercedes-Benz ML500, like its less powerful M-Class sibling, the ML350, received a complete makeover for the 2006 model year, starting with a longer (by almost 6 inches) and wider (...
The Mercedes-Benz ML500, like its less powerful M-Class sibling, the ML350, received a complete makeover for the 2006 model year, starting with a longer (by almost 6 inches) and wider (by almost 3 inches) platform and a more fluid design, which brought it closer in line with the styling of the elegant Mercedes sedans.
Horsepower for the ML500's 5.0-liter V8 engine was increased from 288 to 304. Also new was a seven-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with a Drive Select shifter, which was mounted on the steering wheel. Drivers could use rocker buttons located on the steering wheel spokes to manually upshift or downshift, depending on conditions. In addition, the transmission automatically adjusted shift points to the current driver's driving style. The engine and transmission drove a 4MATIC permanent four-wheel-drive system.
Mercedes also made an effort to improve the ML500's interior, which had sometimes been criticized by drivers of earlier-year models. Standard features included eight-way power adjustable heated seats in the front, leather seats and upholstery throughout, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with an electrostatic dust and pollen filter, a four-way tilt and telescoping steering wheel, four reading lamps, footwell lighting in the front, and an illuminated two-tier glovebox. In addition, an eight-speaker audio system was set up to make it easy to plug-and-play an Apple iPod.
A wide range of options and upgrade packages were available, such as a Lighting Package that included Bi-Xenon headlights, a Sports Package that included 19-inch five-spoke wheels, and a Heating Package that included rear heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
So what were drivers' reactions to all this power and luxury? Naturally, most were impressed, citing the heating and air conditioning system, the handling, the car's quietness, the quality of the ride, and the power as positive points. Negatives cited by drivers included gas mileage, the transmission (that driver-adaptive feature sometimes took awhile to kick in), and the steering.