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2011 Mercedes-Benz M Class Styling

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The Mercedes-Benz M-Class is nearing the end of its model cycle, but it's still among the most handsome vehicles in its class--and sports one of the best interior, too.

Today's M-Class has way more visual staying power than the first M-Class, which bowed in 1998. There's some real harmony in disparate pieces: the semi-circular fenders and the roofline's long arc are mashed up with a darting shoulder line and a deeply etched crosshatch grille. The sloping roofline and a kicked-up rear bumper wedge in the floating glass around the cargo area. It's a little quirky and a bit jumpy, but in spite of all its seemingly unrelated pieces, the M-Class works its look into a cohesive whole.

The cabin is more conventionally styled, and it's been a major success, given the cheaply-trimmed passages inside the first M-Class. Today's truck sports oval air vents embossed into a dash that's smart in its similarity to the one in the GL-Class; the SUVs are built alongside each other, and share a common architecture, so their visual kinship is more common sense than surprise. Seated inside the M-Class' driver seat, you'll look into cut tubes and take in big, white-on-black gauges once you're past the faintly showy touches of chrome on the steering wheel. Polished walnut panels the bottom of the center stack, the console, and the dash on most versions, and padded grips support the center stack like Gothic arch ribs. There's a lot going on in the design--all the little black buttons may take some time to figure out--but like the sheetmetal, there's an underlying rhythm that makes sense.

Most "off-roaders" have grown prettier and more varnished, and the M-Class is, in that way, the biggest transformer of them all.

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