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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.
Last year the Mercedes-Benz M Class family was completely redesigned, and while it didn't look radically different than the generation before it, the M-Class is a careful evolution on the outside, combined with a more significantly revamped interior that simply feels classier than before.
There's a lot of grace and power built into the proportions of the 2013 M Class, and while the proportions are mostly familiar, last year's redesign gained greater attention to details. A chiseled, nicely detailed front air dam, with a taller, more imposing version of the Mercedes-Benz than the brand's cars, sets the stage in front, while aggressive new character lines carve out more body definition alongside, with the sloping C-pillar thick and accented. From any of the side angles, you'll notice that the prominent shoulder-line continues all the way back to the flanks, then wraps around into the tail, where the M Class is perhaps the most traditional in its design.
While the exterior looks tasteful, if a bit familiar, the interior of the M Class will be a revelation even if you're trading up from a lease on a late-model M Class. Dumping the chunky look of the former vehicle entirely, the M-Class adopts a design that's clearly influenced by the S Class sedan flagship, with the gently sculpted lines and swooping curves of Mercedes' sedan instrument panels.
Complementing the look is 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. Standout materials such as diagonal stitching for the seats add a fresh, high-class touch, and up-level models get an upholstered dashboard.
The 2013 M Class is tasteful but not at all surprising on the outside, but nicely detailed and surprisingly plush and carlike on the inside.