We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For This is a great package: a fine drive, excellent refinement and good space

Against The M-Class has no seven-seat option, and some of its plastics are below par

Verdict This is an M-Class that can really compete with its rivals on equal terms

Go for… ML320 CDI

Avoid… ML500 Sport

Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4x4
  • 1. With the optional air suspension, it has a better balance of ride and handling than a BMW X5
  • 2. The M-Class has more legroom front and rear than rivals such as the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90
  • 3. Unlike some of its rivals, the M-Class doesn't have a seven-seat option
  • 4. The quality is much improved over the previous model, but it's too early to tell of any reliability issues
  • 5. The 320CDi diesel is our favourite engine, while every trim level is well-equipped
advertisement

Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4x4 full review with expert trade views

For anyone familiar with the poor previous-generation M-Class, this version could not be more different. The latest car is on a par with its major rivals in every respect.

With the optional air suspension, it has a better balance of ride and handling than a BMW X5, which is no mean feat, and even on the standard suspension it's impressive.

Its refinement is also hard to fault, the seven-speed automatic gearbox is wonderfully smooth, and putting the gear selector on the steering column has freed up valuable space.

Mind you, space is hardly tight to start with. The M-Class has more legroom front and rear than rivals such as the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90, and is second only to the Land Rover Discovery for headroom.

Its boot, too, is one of the very biggest in its class, and just about the only complaint is that, unlike some of its rivals, it doesn't have a seven-seat option.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Classy and sought-after school run vehicle. Excellent 3.0 CDI engine. Sport model best seller

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

For now, just about the only place you'll find a used example of this version of the M-Class is a Mercedes dealer or through a Mercedes Direct outlet.

However, wherever you look, go for a diesel-powered model, which has the advantages of better fuel economy and stronger low-down pull. The ML320 CDI, in particular, is a gem, with a good blend of performance and economy. By comparison, the ML280 CDI feels a little weak, and the ML420 CDI is just too expensive.

Likewise, if you prefer a petrol engine, don't bother with the expensive ML500. The basic ML350 drives well enough and costs much less.

Every version is lavishly equipped, with cruise and climate controls, all-round electric windows and alloy wheels, so the basic trim will be plenty for most people. However, you could upgrade to SE, which brings leather upholstery and metallic paint, or Sport, with its bigger wheels and sportier interior trim.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Classy and sought-after school run vehicle. Excellent 3.0 CDI engine. Sport model best seller

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

You'll certainly need deep pockets to buy and run an M-Class. With few models on the used market - and almost all of them in Mercedes outlets - prices are still pretty steep. That said, all its major rivals are equally desirable, so it's no worse than any of them.

Look at running costs, too, and they're mostly on a par with its rivals'. Its insurance groups and servicing costs are pretty much identical to those on the X5 and XC90, for instance, and fuel economy on an ML350 is almost identical to that on a 3.2-litre XC90. The only disappointment is that a diesel M-Class is a little more thirsty than its rivals.

Similarly, expect high bills if you need unscheduled maintenance. Hourly labour rates and average repair bills are among the highest around, although the bills are no worse than those for Jeeps and Land Rovers.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Classy and sought-after school run vehicle. Excellent 3.0 CDI engine. Sport model best seller

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

For now, the M-Class is still a relatively new design and every car is still under the manufacturer's warranty, so there are no reports of any major weaknesses to worry about. Likewise, there have been no recalls affecting the car.

On the other hand, you may well be a little concerned if you've ever seen survey results for the previous M-Class, especially its bottom-five finish in the 2005 JD Power survey. However, although it's early days, the initial signs are that this model is a major improvement on the old car. It certainly feels better built and uses higher-quality materials.

That should at least bring this model more into line with other Mercedes cars. Figures from Warranty Direct show that, if you were to draw up a league table of reliability, Mercedes would put in a respectable mid-table performance, on a par with BMW and Volvo, but well ahead of Land Rover and Jeep.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Classy and sought-after school run vehicle. Excellent 3.0 CDI engine. Sport model best seller

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014