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FEATURES | 9 out of 10
iPod interface works seamlessly
Some new features have been added to the 2011 Mercedes-Benz M-Class' standard-equipment list, and on the options docket, too.
The ML350 comes standard with vinyl seats and apower driver seat; power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; dual-zone automatic climate control; an auxiliary audio jack; an AM/FM/CD player with MP3 capability; and COMAND voice or knob-driven control for standard Bluetooth connectivity and audio controls.
The Mercedes COMAND system is in the same vein as the BMW iDrive and Audi MMI setups; they all use a shuttle-jog wheel and voice commands to drive climate, entertainment and navigation features--but mostly to drive up your blood pressure. The COMAND system takes a long time to learn, and since we've now used Ford's MyFord and MyLincoln Touch systems and their sensitive LCD-driven interfaces, we're set to predict that the latter will be the way of the future.
If you're missing leather upholstery from the features list--it's there, as an option. And in truth, most ML350s are built with a premium package that bundles in a navigation system with hard-drive storage for music and maps; a music interface for portable players; Sirius satellite radio; a power steering column; a power liftgate; a power passenger seat and driver-side power seat memory; and a rearview camera. Heated front and rear seats, a wood-trimmed and heated steering wheel, and a cargo tray are also available, as are new LED daytime running lights.
Most of those features become standard on the ML550 and the ML63 AMG. The remaining options include a 610-watt Harman/Kardon Logic7 audio system and a DVD rear-seat entertainment system with two 8-inch screens and wireless headphones. All versions can be ordered with a towing package.
COMAND can be confusing, but otherwise we're coddled by the M-Class' luxury and entertainment goodies.