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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
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.
Now three years into its current design, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class may not look much different than past models–it's a practice in careful and deliberate evolution–but its interior feels classier and more upscale than previous generations of this mid-size crossover.
The proportions on the 2014 M-Class will look and feel familiar, but there's more detail here than there has been in the past. The front end is more imposing, with large air dams and a broad grille, and the sides have more lines and creases that extend all the way back to the C-pillars. You'll notice its prominent shoulder-line from just about any angle, as it wraps all the way to the back of the M-Class, where, perhaps, its lines are most conservative.
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.
A sedan-like cabin and an uncontroversial shape put the M-Class in the right luxury-SUV enclave.