Mercedes-Benz M-Class
Overview
 
The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a luxury mid-size sport utility vehicle
Sport utility vehicle
A sport utility vehicle is a generic marketing term for a vehicle similar to a station wagon, but built on a light-truck chassis. It is usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on- or off-road ability, and with some pretension or ability to be used as an off-road vehicle. Not all four-wheel...

 (SUV), first offered in 1997 as a 1998 model, and built by the German automaker Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

. Gradually, the M-Class became a sales success in the United States and Mexico. In terms of size, it is slotted in between the smaller GLK-Class
Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
The Mercedes-Benz GLK is a compact luxury crossover released as a 2009 model elsewhere and as a 2010 model in North America after its public debut at the 2008 Beijing Auto Show alongside the competing Audi Q5....

 (based on the C-Class
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a compact executive car produced by the Mercedes-Benz division of Daimler AG. First introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the 190 range , the C-Class was the smallest model in the marque's lineup until the 1997 arrival of the A-Class...

) and the larger GL-Class, with which it shares platforms. For a short time, between the years 1999 to 2002, the M-Class was also built by Magna Steyr
Magna Steyr
Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik AG & Co KG is an automobile manufacturer based in Oberwaltersdorf, Austria, with its primary manufacturing location in Graz...

 in Graz
Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

, Austria, for the European market, until it moved to part of the US market.
Mercedes-Benz launched the first generation W163 series ML-Class in 1997 for the 1998 model year.
Encyclopedia
The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a luxury mid-size sport utility vehicle
Sport utility vehicle
A sport utility vehicle is a generic marketing term for a vehicle similar to a station wagon, but built on a light-truck chassis. It is usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on- or off-road ability, and with some pretension or ability to be used as an off-road vehicle. Not all four-wheel...

 (SUV), first offered in 1997 as a 1998 model, and built by the German automaker Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

. Gradually, the M-Class became a sales success in the United States and Mexico. In terms of size, it is slotted in between the smaller GLK-Class
Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
The Mercedes-Benz GLK is a compact luxury crossover released as a 2009 model elsewhere and as a 2010 model in North America after its public debut at the 2008 Beijing Auto Show alongside the competing Audi Q5....

 (based on the C-Class
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a compact executive car produced by the Mercedes-Benz division of Daimler AG. First introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the 190 range , the C-Class was the smallest model in the marque's lineup until the 1997 arrival of the A-Class...

) and the larger GL-Class, with which it shares platforms. For a short time, between the years 1999 to 2002, the M-Class was also built by Magna Steyr
Magna Steyr
Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik AG & Co KG is an automobile manufacturer based in Oberwaltersdorf, Austria, with its primary manufacturing location in Graz...

 in Graz
Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

, Austria, for the European market, until it moved to part of the US market.

First generation (W163: 1997–2005)

Mercedes-Benz launched the first generation W163 series ML-Class in 1997 for the 1998 model year. It is a mid-sized body-on-frame
Body-on-frame
Body-on-frame is an automobile construction method. Mounting a separate body to a rigid frame that supports the drivetrain was the original method of building automobiles, and its use continues to this day. The original frames were made of wood , but steel ladder frames became common in the 1930s...

 SUV with seating for five or seven with an optional third-row seat. The ML-Class was the first luxury SUV to feature electronic stability control
Electronic stability control
Electronic stability control is a computerized technology that may potentially improve the safety of a vehicle's stability by detecting and minimizing skids. When ESC detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help "steer" the vehicle where the driver intends to go...

, a system designed to detect loss of control and instantaneously intervene with selective braking to bring the vehicle back on its intended course. Furthermore, the ML-Class boasted front- and side-impact airbags with advanced occupant detection for the front passenger seat, which, helped earn the W163 the highest marks in insurance industry crash tests.
Manufactured in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tuscaloosa is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama . Located on the Black Warrior River, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with a population of 90,468 in 2010...

 in the United States, the the ML-Class launched in the North American market first as the ML 320. The ML 320 was sold internationally, with the "320" suffix alluding to the 3.2-litre V6 engine. An entry-level, manual transmission-only ML 230, fitted with a 2.3-litre inline-four was available in Europe from launch in 1997 until 2000. From launch in 1997, European markets also received the ML 270 CDI with a 2.7-litre inline-five turbodiesel
Turbodiesel
Turbodiesel refers to any diesel engine with a turbocharger. Turbocharging is the norm rather than the exception in modern car and truck diesel engines...

 engine. This unit was made available in Australia in 2000 and continued on in the W163 until being replaced upon the release of the W164 ML-Class in 2005.

Later, in 1999, the more powerful ML 430 became available with the familiar Mercedes-Benz 4.3-litre V8. This was followed by the 2000 debut of the ML 55 AMG, featuring a 5.4-litre V8 engine
V8 engine
A V8 engine is a V engine with eight cylinders mounted on the crankcase in two banks of four cylinders, in most cases set at a right angle to each other but sometimes at a narrower angle, with all eight pistons driving a common crankshaft....

 made by AMG
Mercedes-AMG
Mercedes-AMG GmbH, commonly known as AMG, is a subsidiary of the Mercedes-Benz car company specializing in high-performance luxury cars....

, modified bodywork, and other performance features.

Before the vehicle was launched, Mercedes-Benz allowed the producers of the 1997 film The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a 1997 science fiction thriller film, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was produced by Bonnie Curtis, Kathleen Kennedy, Gerald R. Molen and Colin Wilson...

to make use of two pre-production ML-Class SUVs as a way to advertise the W163 when it was launched. As a result, a Mercedes-Benz advertisement appears before the film on original VHS
VHS
The Video Home System is a consumer-level analog recording videocassette standard developed by Victor Company of Japan ....

 copies of the film. Jeff Goldblum
Jeff Goldblum
Jeffrey Lynn "Jeff" Goldblum is an American actor. His career began in the mid-1970s and he has appeared in major box-office successes including The Fly, Jurassic Park and its sequel Jurassic Park: The Lost World, and Independence Day...

, the star of the film, received a complimentary ML 320 from Mercedes-Benz as a result of the tie-in.

The ML 320 was Motor Trend
Motor Trend
Motor Trend is an American automobile magazine. It first appeared in September 1949, issued by Petersen Publishing Company in Los Angeles, and bearing the tag line "The Magazine for a Motoring World". Petersen Publishing was sold to British publisher EMAP in 1998, who sold the former Petersen...

magazine's Truck of the Year for 1998 and was voted the 1998 North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show
North American International Auto Show
The North American International Auto Show is an annual auto show held in Detroit, Michigan at Cobo Center, usually in January. It is among the largest auto shows in North America.-History:...

, Detroit, in January 1998. Despite this, Mercedes-Benz received considerable criticism with respect to the substandard quality of the W163. A road test on the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 programme Top Gear revealed that the presenter, Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson is an English broadcaster, journalist and writer who specialises in motoring. He is best known for his role on the BBC TV show Top Gear along with co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May...

, could put his fingers into the gap below the rear lights and above the rear bumper. Although quality improved over the years, especially after the facelift in 2001 for the 2002 model year, the ML still ranked second last out of the 142 cars in the Top Gear Motoring Survey 2004. As a result of these quality concerns, DaimlerChrysler spent US$600 million on improvements at the Alabama factory before launching the second generation ML in 2005.

Facelift

Mercedes-Benz revised and updated the W163 in 2001 for the 2002 model year. Styling updates involved the fitment of new head- and tail-lamp lenses, front and rear bumpers, new alloy wheels on most variants, the relocation of the side turn signals from the fenders to the side-view mirrors, and various interior trim changes. At the same time, the ML 430 was replaced by the 5.0-litre V8-powered ML 500 and a new 4.0-litre V8 turbodiesel ML 400 CDI became available in Europe. The following year, in 2002, Mercedes-Benz launched the ML 350 fitted with a 3.7-litre V6 engine. The ML 350 replaced the ML 320 in some markets, but supplemented it in others.

The current Popemobile
Popemobile
Popemobile is an informal name for the specially designed motor vehicles used by the pope during outdoor public appearances without having to employ the antiquated and often impractical sedia gestatoria. The Popemobile was designed to allow the pope to be more visible when greeting large crowds...

 is based on a W163 series ML 430 and has been in service since July 2002. Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

 had offered to build a new vehicle based on the Touareg
Volkswagen Touareg
The Volkswagen Touareg is a mid-size crossover SUV produced by German automaker Volkswagen since 2002. The vehicle was named after the Tuareg people, a Berber-speaking group in North Africa...

, but Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 opted to continue using his predecessor's Mercedes-Benz-manufactured vehicle.

Second generation (W164: 2005–2011)

The redesigned M-class (chassis name W164) was introduced in April 2005 as a 2006 model after a showing at the North American International Auto Show
North American International Auto Show
The North American International Auto Show is an annual auto show held in Detroit, Michigan at Cobo Center, usually in January. It is among the largest auto shows in North America.-History:...

 in January. It was almost entirely new, with a more sporting, aerodynamic look—the coefficient of drag is down to 0.34. Mercedes-Benz has also made the new M-Class larger, measuring 150 mm longer than the first model. The M-Class was named "Best New Sport Utility Vehicle" in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year
Canadian Car of the Year
Canadian Car of the Year winners, as chosen by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada:-Canadian Car of the Year:-2011:Canadian Car of the Year winners, as chosen by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada:...

 awards.

Mercedes-Benz extensively publicised the US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

600 million spent to update its factory and add manufacturing space for the new R-Class
Mercedes-Benz R-Class
The R-Class is a multi-purpose vehicle offered by Daimler AG in 2006 model year under the Mercedes-Benz brand. It is the first full-sized multi-purpose vehicle ever produced by Mercedes-Benz...

. According to early automotive press reports, the 2006 M-Class vehicles demonstrate vast improvements in quality.

The W164 platform
Automobile platform
An automobile platform is a shared set of common design, engineering, and production efforts, as well as major components over a number of outwardly distinct models and even types of automobiles, often from different, but related marques...

 used for the new M-Class is shared with the new GL-Class
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is a full-size crossover SUV built by the German carmaker Mercedes-Benz since 2006. The GL-Class debuted at the 2006 North American International Auto Show. The car was designed for the American market, which is shown by its large size, making it the only similarly sized...

 and is a unibody type rather than the former (W163) body-on-frame used by the M-Class vehicles produced from 1998–2005. The X164 GL-CLass, a longer seven-seater version of the W164 platform, is also available.

New features in the 2006 M-Class include the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission
Automatic transmission
An automatic transmission is one type of motor vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually...

, optional Active Curve-Illuminating Bi-Xenon headlights which "steer" in the path of the vehicle, and an adjustable-height air suspension. The manual transmission
Manual transmission
A manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox or standard transmission is a type of transmission used in motor vehicle applications...

 has been dropped. In most countries except US an Off-Road Pro package with locking on rear and center differential, low-range transmission and adjustable chassis clearance is available as an option.

The AMG
Mercedes-AMG
Mercedes-AMG GmbH, commonly known as AMG, is a subsidiary of the Mercedes-Benz car company specializing in high-performance luxury cars....

 version of the W164, the ML 63 AMG, was introduced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show
North American International Auto Show
The North American International Auto Show is an annual auto show held in Detroit, Michigan at Cobo Center, usually in January. It is among the largest auto shows in North America.-History:...

 as a limited edition 2007 model. It features a 6.2 L M156
Mercedes-Benz M156 engine
The M156 is the first V8 automobile engine designed autonomously by Mercedes-Benz subsidiary Mercedes-AMG, as previous AMG engines have always been based on original Mercedes engines...

V8 engine
V8 engine
A V8 engine is a V engine with eight cylinders mounted on the crankcase in two banks of four cylinders, in most cases set at a right angle to each other but sometimes at a narrower angle, with all eight pistons driving a common crankshaft....

 producing 510 hp and 465 lbft that is handcrafted in Germany. The engine is added to an AMG Speedshift 7G-Tronic
7G-TRONIC
7G-Tronic is Mercedes-Benz's trademark name for its seven-speed automatic transmission. This fifth-generation transmission was introduced in the Autumn of 2003 on 8-cylinder models, and was the first seven-speed automatic transmission ever used on a production vehicle.The 7G-Tronic debuted on five...

 seven-speed automatic transmission
Automatic transmission
An automatic transmission is one type of motor vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually...

. The 2006 ML 63 AMG can accelerate from 0–60 mph (96 km/h) in just 4.8 seconds, or from 0–62 mph (100 km/h) in just 5.0 seconds. These impressive features made the ML 63 AMG the most powerful naturally aspırated V8 SUV in the world.

Facelift

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class got a minor face-lift as it debuted at the 2008 New York International Auto Show
New York International Auto Show
The New York International Auto Show is an annual auto show held in New York City in late March or early April. It is usually held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. It usually opens on or just before Easter weekend and closes on the first Sunday after Easter...

.

This face-lift includes new front headlights, redesigned front and rear bumpers, new exterior mirrors, new rim choices, a larger front grille, restyled interior, and a new ML 420 CDI engine choice. The ML 280 CDI became the ML 300 CDI, the 320 CDI the 350 CDI, and the 420 CDI became the 450 CDI.

Models using Bluetec
BlueTec
BlueTec is Daimler AG's marketing name for engines equipped with advanced NOx reducing technology for vehicle emissions control in diesel-powered vehicles...

 Diesel engine
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

 with urea
Urea
Urea or carbamide is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO2. The molecule has two —NH2 groups joined by a carbonyl functional group....

 injection were introduced in 2008 for the 2009 model year.

At the 2009 New York International Auto Show
New York International Auto Show
The New York International Auto Show is an annual auto show held in New York City in late March or early April. It is usually held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. It usually opens on or just before Easter weekend and closes on the first Sunday after Easter...

, Mercedes-Benz showed their ML 450 Hybrid SUV, which was announced on 8 April 2009. The ML 450 Hybrid consumes almost 50% less fuel than the ML 550 does, even though it produces over 90% of the power generated by the V8 model. Total power generated will be 335 hp and 381 lbft of torque, while getting 24 miles per US gallon on the highway and 21 miles per US gallon in the city, according to United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

 (EPA) estimates. The engine itself runs on the Atkinson cycle and by itself makes 275 hp. The ML 450 was developed under the Global Hybrid Cooperation
Global Hybrid Cooperation
Global Hybrid Cooperation is a set of hybrid vehicle technologies jointly developed by General Motors, Daimler, and Chrysler LLC, with BMW joining in 2005...

, and will only be available in the United States under lease.
For the 2012 model year the Mercedes Benz ML line-up will be completely redesigned, final versions of the vehicle have not been released but have been speculated for sale in Fall 2011. It comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Third generation (W166: 2011–present)

The newly redesigned M-class (chassis name W166) was introduced in pre-production form 10 June 2011 as a 2012 model. The first customer-designated W166 rolled off the Tuscaloosa production line on 20 July. It is moderately refined, taking styling cues from the new generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a range of executive-size cars manufactured by Mercedes-Benz in various engine and body configurations. The E initially stood for Einspritzmotor, ; a new feature in volume production vehicles at the time that the E-Class first appeared, with the E as a suffix to the...

. An increase in rear seat legroom has been implemented, alongside adjustable rear back-rests. It is due to launch in September of 2011.

New features in the 2012 M-Class include an updated 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission
Automatic transmission
An automatic transmission is one type of motor vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually...

 to provide improved fuel economy, optional Adaptive Cruise Control (Distronic Plus), Active Lane Departure Warning System
Lane departure warning system
In road-transport terminology, a lane departure warning system is a mechanism designed to warn a driver when the vehicle begins to move out of its lane on freeways and arterial roads. These systems are designed to minimize accidents by addressing the main causes of collisions: driver error,...

, and an adjustable-height air suspension (AirMatic).

Sales

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