2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec

Don Sherman
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The recently face-lifted M-class has enough sparkle and presence, what with its redesigned front bumper, flashy new headlamps, and shiny nineteen-inch wheels, to satisfy all who yearn for the three-pointed star. This ML320 BlueTec replaces the previous ML320 CDI and is powered by Mercedes-Benz's all-new, so-called "clean" diesel, the first modern diesel engine from Mercedes that is approved for sale in all fifty states, including super-picky California, because it uses an AdBlue exhaust injection liquid that reduces NOx by some 80 percent. That is quite an achievement.

And it is quite a powertrain, with very quiet operation and virtually no indication to the user that it's a diesel. Turn the key, and there's just a slight hesitation before the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 ignites and quickly settles into its almost indecipherable rhythm. Torque? Yes, nearly 400 lb-ft of it, giving you smart acceleration from stoplights (Mercedes claims a 0-to-60-mph time of about 8.0 seconds) and, of course, great towing capability: Mercedes says you can drag 7200 pounds of trailer and cargo behind you. With a 24-mpg highway fuel economy rating and a 25-gallon fuel tank, the ML320 BlueTec also boasts a 600-mile driving range. That alone is reason enough for many people to choose the ML320 BlueTec over its gasoline-powered sibling, the ML350, which is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg on the freeway, giving it an effective range of 500 miles.

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

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