Mercedes’ mid-sized SUV was redone last year, with major changes including a more carlike unibody chassis (vs. the body-on-frame design used previously). The new M-Class is larger in virtually every dimension than before, with larger integrated fenders flanking a high, angled beltline. A more spacious cabin features a 60/40-split folding rear seat to permit various cargo-carrying arrangements. For 2007, a high-performance ML63 AMG with 503 horsepower joins the lineup, which consists of base ML350 and V-8 powered ML500. A 221-hp, diesel-powered version of the M-Class is also on deck. Both gas engines are fitted to a new seven-speed automatic transmission that drives all four wheels via an improved version of Mercedes’ 4MATIC full-time four-wheel drive system. A more road-worthy suspension features a double-wishbone design in the front and a newly developed four-link array at the rear is designed for a more refined ride and car-like handling characteristics. A revised four-wheel traction control system assures mobility even if three of four wheels lose their grip. Side-curtain airbags that cover both rows of seats come standard. Mercedes’ accident-sensing Pre-Safe system, whiplash-preventing active headrests, a power liftgate, and an AIRMATIC air suspension are optional. Max tow rating is 5000 lb.
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