2009 Mercedes-Benz M-class

2009 Mercedes-Benz M-class

The current-generation Mercedes-Benz M-class has been on sale for three years, so a face-lift was in order. Its arrival coincides with the introduction of the ML's new, Bluetec powertrain, which finally provides diesel performance that's clean enough to be sold in all fifty states, even emissions-finicky California. (Bluetec also hits the R-class minivan and the GL-class large SUV this fall.)

The ML's face-lift itself is the usual fare: a new, three-louver, bigger grille; a larger three-pointed star; new side mirrors; new roof rails; and bolder headlights and taillights. (Like all automakers, Mercedes is maximizing LED and projector-beam lighting technology to create new and interesting shapes for its headlights and taillights. During a sneak preview of the new ML last December at a styling studio in Stuttgart, Germany, Mercedes operatives dimmed the room lights so that we could see the new headlights in action on the face-lifted ML, CLS four-door coupe, and SLroadster.)

Inside, the ML is available with richer materials, including full leather stitching for the dash. There's a new steering wheel, a new seat design, and, more important, the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz's telematics system, including the logical Comand interface that debuted on the S-class. Hurray for that. The usual array of revised wheels will be offered, and the PreSafe accident-anticipation-and-avoidance system is now standard.

Naturally, the ML's face-lift extends not only to its V-6 and V-8 gasoline models and the ML320 Bluetec but also to the ML63 AMG. Next year, look for an ML equipped with the two-mode hybrid powertrain that GM developed with assistance from Mercedes and BMW.

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