For drivers who like a little red meat with their otherwise well-behaved midsize SUV, the Mercedes-Benz ML550 debuts for 2008 with a beefy 382-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8 engine that's equipped with multipoint fuel injection and two spark plugs per cylinder. It's a combination that drives the new ML550 from 0 to 60 in just 5.6 seconds, which should make it easy to complete daily errands or run the kids to soccer practice in record time.
However, drivers should keep in mind that the big V8 engine requires premium fuel, and with all the power it produces, fuel economy naturally suffers. The EPA estimates highway mileage for the ML550 at 18 miles per gallon and a paltry 13 miles per gallon around town, which accounts for most driving miles for a typical family these days. Some reviewers note that this mileage should be better, given the fact that Mercedes designed the SUV's powerplant to be more fuel efficient.
The 2008 ML550, which replaces the ML500 in the automaker's lineup, features a freshened exterior, with new front and rear bumpers designed by AMG, the in-house sport tuner for Mercedes, as well as a redesigned chrome grille, dual square stainless-steel exhaust tips, and black coated roof rails.
Inside, standard features include heated front seats, a power tilt/sliding sunroof, a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel, Burl Walnut wood trim, and an eight-speaker audio system.
To ensure safe driving in all conditions and on all types of road surfaces, the ML550 comes equipped with the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, which continuously monitors the speed of all four wheels and reduces power or applies brakes as needed when it detects wheel slippage. In addition, the system balances the flow of power to the wheels with traction.
Other features that aid drivers, especially when traveling off-road, include Downhill Speed Regulation, which manages the throttle and brakes to ensure safe driving on steep slopes, and Hill Assist, which prevents rollback when the driver switches between the brake and gas pedals on steep uphill or downhill grades.