Shopping for a new Mercedes-Benz M Class?
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With five different models under its belt, each one with a distinct powertrain, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV has something to offer most every family looking for a luxury utility vehicle to put in its garage. At least two of these M-Classes are on our most-wanted list, though the M-Class lineup as a whole has much to recommend it.
We're giving the lineup a rating of 7 here at FamilyCarGuide, with specific advice to shop the V-6 models first, before you decide whether the V-8s or the rare, lease-only hybrid are worth the effort.
All M-Class models share the same basic architecture and interior accommodations. They're as good as any five-passenger SUV out there, with a high seating position for front passengers and a slightly elevated back-seat bench for the three adults that will fit snugly across the back. The back seats fold down to expand the storage area, but they don't lay completely flat, which limits their utility a bit. The cargo hold is sizable, and it's finished off to a much higher degree than the first-generation M-Class ever was. In fact, the entire cabin's a tour de force, particularly given the M's troubles with fit and finish in the past. Now it's a gorgeous mix of shapes and textures, with options for wood and metallic trim from model to model.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the M-Class for the 2011 model year, but its past performance is heartening. The M-Class also has lots of safety features that make it even more desirable: above and beyond the usual airbags and electronic assistants, there are options for blind-spot monitors, a rearview camera and adaptive cruise control.
Other features inside the ML-Class (its technical model name) include standard climate control; power windows, locks and mirrors; satellite radio; and Bluetooth. Adding options or moving into more expensive models brings a moonroof, a DVD entertainment system, and a multimedia interface that controls iPods and other music players.