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STYLING | 7 out of 10
has a flattened roofline that's a bit less jaunty and a tad more minivan-ish
Crisp, new sheet metal is stretched over the same 114.8-inch wheelbase as last year's model
Edmunds' Inside Line
The upright dash reminds us just a bit of the distantly related Jeep Grand Cherokee, but overall the ML350 feels like a genuine Benz.
What hasn't changed is the angled rear C-pillar that current owners identified as a defining M-Class element.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M Class has a completely new design this year all-new this year, and while Mercedes-Benz has made the exterior a careful evolution and improvement, it's imbued the interior with a classier feel more like that of the brand's S-Class sedan flagship.
The proportions of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M Class are undoubtedly familiar, yet there's a lot more grace and power built into thanks to greater attention to details. A chiseled, nicely detailed front air dam and a taller, more imposing version of the Mercedes-Benz than the brand's cars get sets the stage in front, and aggressive new character lines carve out more body definition alongside, with the sloping C-pillar again thick and accented. A prominent shoulder-line continues all the way back to the flanks, and wraps around to a more traditional tail.
While the exterior of the 2012 M Class is clearly a more aggressive yet graceful evolution, the interior goes in a somewhat new direction, adopting the gently sculpted lines and swooping curves of Mercedes' sedan instrument panels and complements the look with a 'power dome' center stack. Top and center in the completely redesigned dash is a seven-inch display, flanked by air vents, with the latest version of M-B's COMAND screen-based interface. And to an issue that's been criticized for years, the company has repositioned the turn-signal lever from the 8:00 position to the 10:00 position. Interior materials are substantially upgraded, the automaker says, with standouts like ventilated leather seats with diagonal stitching.
The newly redesigned 2012 Mercedes-Benz M Class is only mildly evolved on the outside, but much more fashionable and better-detailed on the inside.