Used Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4x4 2005 - 2012 review

Category: Large SUV

This is a Mercedes M-Class that can really compete with its rivals on equal terms

Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4x4 (05 - 12)
  • Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4x4 (05 - 12)
  • Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4x4 (05 - 12)
Used Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4x4 2005 - 2012 review
Star rating

What's the used Mercedes M Class 4x4 like?

For anyone familiar with the poor previous-generation Mercedes 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.


This is a Mercedes M-Class that can really compete with its rivals on equal terms

  • This is a great package: a fine drive, excellent refinement and good space
  • The M-Class has no seven-seat option and some of its plastics are below par

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.**

Ownership cost

What used Mercedes M Class 4x4 will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mercedes M Class 4x4?

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Mercedes M Class 4x4 should I buy?

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.**

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