Introduced in 1998, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a midsize rear- or all-wheel drive SUV with room for five. Three M-Class generations were produced, with gasoline, diesel and AMG performance models offered. Starting with the 2016 model year, the M-Class was renamed the Mercedes-Benz GLE.
2012 to 2015: Mercedes-Benz M-Class
The third-generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class was introduced for the 2012 model year. The M-Class is marked by a strong fascia with a horizontal grille that’s amplified by the automaker’s trademark emblem. Large wraparound headlamps are accented by LED daytime running lights. Sporty embrasures punctuated by LED fog lamps hem in the lower grille opening.
The Mercedes M-Class features a sloping hood, as well as a sweeping roofline, upper and lower profile character lines and aluminum alloy wheels. The rear fascia includes a liftgate spoiler, large wraparound combination lamps, reflector lights and embedded exhaust ports.
Inside, the third-generation M-Class has standard power-operated bucket seats up front and a split-folding bench seat in the rear. All models are generously appointed and have dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system.
Standard safety features include PreSafe, which is a crash avoidance system that can automatically secure occupants when it senses a crash is imminent. Available safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and a rearview camera.
The third-generation M-Class launched in 2012 with four trim levels: ML350, ML350 Bluetec, ML550 and the high-performance ML63 AMG.
The Mercedes ML350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Rear- and all-wheel drive models are available. The ML350 Bluetec is powered by a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6 engine making 240 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque.
Also available is the ML550, an all-wheel drive model powered by a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 that generates 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard across the model line.
Beginning in 2015, Mercedes-Benz dropped the turbodiesel V6 and introduced the ML250 Bluetec. This all-wheel drive model is powered by a turbodiesel 2.1-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
The ML400 also debuted for 2015, featuring all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque.
Earlier Mercedes-Benz M-Class Models
The first-generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class was produced from 1998 to 2005 and the second-generation model was produced from 2006 to 2011.
Upon its introduction, Mercedes-Benz offered one M-Class model: the ML320, which is powered by a 3.2-liter V6 engine and paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. This edition remained in production through 2003.
Throughout the M-Class’ first-generation model run, Mercedes-Benz rolled out additional models. In 1999, the ML430 arrived, which is powered by a 4.3-liter V8 engine. In 2001, an ML55 AMG performance model was released and produced through 2003.
Beginning in 2002, the ML500 arrived, replacing the previous ML430. This model is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine. In 2003, the ML350 arrived, which features a 3.7-liter V6.
The second-generation M-Class arrived with both the ML350 and ML500 models intact. However, Mercedes-Benz replaced the five-speed automatic transmission with a seven-speed automatic.
In 2007, the first diesel M-Class joined the product line: the ML320 CDI is powered by a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6. That same year a performance model returned with the introduction of the ML63 AMG.
In 2009, a rear-wheel drive version of the ML350 was introduced. In 2010, the all-wheel drive ML450 Hybrid was added to the product line, but was discontinued after two years.