What's New for 2013:
- Standard rear-wheel drive (ML350)
- Standard Mbrace 2 telematics
- Standard Collision Prevention Assist technology
- Standard color instrumentation
- Standard upholstered dashboard (ML550)
- Optional massaging front seats
- Optional On- and Off-Road package
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a 5-passenger, midsize luxury SUV, sold as the ML350, ML350 BlueTec, ML550, and the performance-oriented ML63 AMG. The ML63 AMG will be covered in a separate review.
Standard equipment for the ML350 model includes LED running lights, LED taillights, stainless steel skid plates, brushed aluminum roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, and 19-inch aluminum wheels.
The 2013 M-Class offers an interior with genuine aluminum and wood trim, ambient lighting, leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and MB-Tex leatherette upholstery. Dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power heated front seats, power sunroof, and a power rear liftgate are standard, as well as a universal garage door opener, touch-screen information display, and Mbrace telematics with a free 6-month subscription to services. The standard stereo includes Bluetooth hands-free calling and music streaming, CD/DVD changer, HD Radio, weatherband radio, USB port, auxiliary audio input jack, and a memory card reader.
Options for the 2013 Mercedes-Benz M-Class are primarily grouped into several packages. The first of these is called the Premium 1 package, which comes with a hard-drive navigation system with a music server, Gracenote database, iPod interface, and satellite radio with real-time traffic and weather reporting. Additionally, this package includes a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power-folding auto-dimming exterior mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, memory for the driver's settings, reversing camera, and a 115-volt power outlet in the rear seating area.
The Premium 2 package adds an 830-watt premium surround-sound system with 14 speakers, Keyless Go passive entry with push-button ignition, multi-color perimeter lighting, enhanced cabin lighting, illuminated door sill plates, and a rear storage compartment.
Mercedes also offers two packages designed to improve this SUV's performance. The Dynamic Handling package adds an Airmatic air suspension, Adaptive Damping System, Active Curve System, and 20-inch wheels and tires. The On- and Off-Road package, which is new for 2013, includes a 2-stage transfer case, differential lock, and six transmission settings.
Three different safety-related option packages are offered for the M-Class. The Driver Assistance package includes Distronic Plus active cruise control with Pre-Safe Brake, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and Blind Spot Assist. The Tracking package offers simpler versions of Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist, and leaves Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe Brake on the factory floor. The Lighting package includes bi-xenon headlights with Active Curve Illumination, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, cornering lights, and headlight washers.
Additionally, the 2013 M-Class can be outfitted with extra-cost metallic paint, leather seats, heated rear seats, heated leather or a wood-and-leather steering wheel, and heated and cooled cup holders. The Parktronic with Active Park Assist system provides front and rear park-assist sensors and can identify adequately sized parallel parking spaces and automatically steer the M-Class into the space while the driver operates the foot pedals. A panoramic sunroof, rear-seat entertainment system, trailer hitch, and brushed aluminum running boards are also available, and Mercedes dealers can add mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capability.
Under the Hood
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML350 is equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine generating 302 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 273 lb.-ft. of torque between 3,500 rpm and 5,250 rpm. A 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is standard, driving the ML350's rear wheels. A 4Matic 4-wheel-drive system is optional.
The ML350 BlueTec 4Matic is equipped with a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 generating 240 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 455 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,600 rpm and 2,400 rpm. It also offers a 7-speed automatic and comes standard with 4Matic 4WD.
The ML550 4Matic offers a direct-injection, twin-turbocharged, 4.6-liter V-8 engine that delivers 402 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque. A 7-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic 4WD are standard on this model.
EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Mercedes-Benz M-Class are:
- ML350: 18/23/20 mpg (city/highway/combined)
- ML350 4Matic: 18/23/20 mpg
- ML350 BlueTec: 20/28/23 mpg
- ML550 4Matic: 14/20/16 mpg
The 2013 M-Class is equipped with a long list of standard safety features. Nine air bags, traction and stability control with Trailer Stability Assist, hill-start assist, and 4-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes with automatic brake drying and Predictive Brake Priming are included in the base price. Attention Assist is also standard, which is able to detect a drowsy driver and recommend taking a break through visual and audible measures.
The M-Class is also equipped with Pre-Safe and Post-Safe technology. Pre-Safe senses an impending crash and takes protective measures before impact by tightening the seat belts, closing the sunroof and windows, repositioning the front passenger for impact, and properly positioning the head restraints. Post-Safe activates after a collision, cutting fuel supply to the engine, activating the hazard flashers and interior lights, and unlocking the doors after a collision.
Safety-related options include bi-xenon headlights with Active Curve Illumination, which swivels the headlights to help see around dark curves at night, and Adaptive Highbeam Assist, which automatically dims the bright lights when oncoming traffic approaches. The optional Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe Braking system employs radar units to maintain, automatically brake, and automatically accelerate in traffic, while the Pre-Safe Brake automatically engages the brakes at full power if the system determines that a collision is about to occur.
Two levels of Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Assist technology are also optional. Active Lane Keeping Assist identifies when the M-Class drifts out of its lane and selectively brakes the wheels to get it back into the intended travel lane, while Active Blind Spot Assist takes corrective measures if the driver ignores warnings that there are vehicles in the adjacent lane. Alternatively, non-active versions of these systems are offered.
As this overview is written, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has rated the crashworthiness of the 2013 Mercedes M-Class. However, the structurally identical 2012 model was named a \"Top Safety Pick\" by the Institute.