2009 Mercedes-Benz M Class Page 1

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When Mercedes-Benz lifts the covers from the 2009 ML-Class at the New York auto show next week, it’s going to look a little different--and sound a lot different, thanks to the new diesel engine under the hood.

Benz’ push in New York will showcase its trio of diesel-power sport-utility vehicles, including the crossover R320 BlueTEC, the larger GL320 BlueTEC, and the mid-size SUV that started it all for the brand in America, the ML320 BlueTec. Each features the new AdBlue system developed by Mercedes that uses a special exhaust aftertreatment spray to treat diesel emissions, reducing nitrogen oxides.

It ain’t cheap, but the 2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class deserves its place atop the luxury SUV echelon.

The ML-Class, along with the new diesel engine, gets a visual revamp with a new front bumper and headlights, a new lower ribbed grille, fog lamps and more chrome trim. Benz says the look will give it a stronger face for the 2009 model year--a new fashion for the New York crowds, we suppose.

In back the M-Class, as it’s popularly known, gets a refreshed rear end as well, with dual exhausts, a reshaped bumper and skid plates. And inside the Benz SUV there are reupholstered doors, lumbar for the driver seat, a new steering wheel, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. An optional harmon kardon Logic7 audio system and rear-seat entertainment system have been added, along with voice recognition.

2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC

2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC

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New standard safety equipment adds on Mercedes’ PRE-SAFE system to the M-Class’ portfolio. PRE-SAFE uses sensors to detect when a vehicle is in danger of an imminent crash--from throttle and brake and steering inputs--and prepares the car for impact. Seatbelts are tightened, the front passenger seat moves into a better position and the side windows close (and if the system predicts a rollover, the sunroof closes as well).

Mercedes-Benz promises fuel economy will be 20 to 30 percent better in the diesel versions of its sport-utes. The EPA shows the ML320 CDI rated at 18/24 mpg, with the gas-engined ML350 at 15/20 mpg. Mercedes-Benz also promises a cruising range of up to 600 miles.

The diesel-powered Benzes go on sale later this year in all 50 states.

Stay tuned for more coverage from the New York auto show as The Car Connection hits the Javits Center starting Tuesday, March 18.

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