EDITOR WES RAYNAL: You won't see me turning down a chance to drive an ML - any ML. I've always liked them, for the most part. As midsize luxury utes go, they're among the best, no matter the powertrain. They're not cheap, but the truck delivers in terms of luxury and comfort.
Like our long-term GL350 Bluetec, there aren't too many SUVs on the market this smooth, creamy and solid, and, with the diesel, this economical. I consistently saw mpg readings in the 20s around town, high 20s on the freeway. There is no diesel-ness here. It's quiet and doesn't smell of diesel fuel, nor is there any turbo lag. Acceleration is just fine.
The chassis is stiff, and Benz engineers tuned the suspension a bit on the soft side-especially in comfort mode, terrific for soaking up our notorious potholes. Power is good, shifts imperceptible. I'd like some more steering weight, but that's it as far as the driving beefs go. That said, if you're looking for sporty, this probably isn't the first choice.
The interior is comfortable. I really like the seats. Some here will say they are too flat, but they fit my rear end perfectly.
This is a ute for those who need some space and all-weather ability but still want to be coddled. It's extremely quiet on the road. Looking back at our previous ML notes, I see the words “quiet” and “smooth” a lot. As I say when I have driven these before, it's a nice car to get into at the end of the day. Involving? Not so much. Relaxing? Indeed. Sometimes, after a hard day, that's all you need.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz ML350 Bluetec comes in at a base price of $52, 715 with our tester reaching the $69, 085 level.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: I don't know that I even checked to see if this ML350 was a diesel before driving it. I just sort of assumed it was. Sure enough, it has a Bluetec badge on the tailgate.
We seem to get a lot of Benz oil-burners in the fleet here. I don't think this is accidental. This is how the automaker chooses to present its vehicles to us, after all. Given the praises we've already sung about our GL350 Bluetec long-term tester, the reasons why shouldn't be surprising.