Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz ML 350 Bluetec Diesel car test drives mercedes benz luxury cars
2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec. Click image to enlarge
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2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

I have to admit, I had built up expectations of the Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec Diesel before going into this test drive. On paper, it had everything I’ve been drawn to in my recent driving experiences: sophisticated luxury, sharp design, comfortable ease of entry and load-height for my daughter’s car seat, and big torque from an efficient diesel powerplant. And yet, at the end of the week, I felt clinically detached—it did everything right, but created almost no emotional response or attachment.

Okay, perhaps my role as an automotive journalist isn’t to make a meaningful life-partner connection with a car, but I find it is a good reflection of the subjective merits of a car if it can capture my imagination and emotion. And after a couple of events recently that felt a lot like speed dating, I thought the relationship analogy would be a good angle to describe the ML. And in this luxury SUV segment, I’d wager more customers sign the lease based on a car that triggers an emotional appeal than those that have compared it feature for feature or on a spec comparison tool.

In truth, the ML would make a good life partner for my family of three with one on the way. Mercedes knows this, too, as the child-seat anchors are some of the most easily accessible I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. While families without children might not find the exposed and clearly labeled ISOFIX anchors especially exciting, I thought it was a nice touch since there is no penalty in comfort for regular passengers while still making parents of young children very happy.

Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz ML 350 Bluetec Diesel car test drives mercedes benz luxury cars
Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz ML 350 Bluetec Diesel car test drives mercedes benz luxury cars
2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec. Click image to enlarge

Adults of any size will find excellent space in the back seat, plenty of leg and headroom for all three positions, although the middle spot has an awkward backrest because of the fold-down armrest. Up front, the driver and passenger chairs are power adjustable with controls on the door and three memory positions for both driver and passenger. Seating surfaces were Mercedes’ Artico synthetic leather, but I was in an E-Class with real leather recently and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference—real leather is a $2,450 option. However, the wood trim was anthracite (black) Poplar, and while some might find the black on black with only touches of low-gloss silvery metal and plastic trim monotonous, I appreciated the subtle and reserved interior much more than any brown or beige interior I’ve come across recently.

While I didn’t use every possible function of the COMAND system (part of the $4,600 Premium Package that also adds navigation and an upgraded stereo), those that I did use I found easy to navigate through the centre-console scroll wheel or some of the limited functions on the steering wheel mounted controls (trip computer, audio mode, phone, song advance but no playlist searching). Also updated for 2012 is that the cruise control is back to a stalk on the left side of the steering column. Another returning feature for 2012 is the spare tire under the trunk floor, which at least one current owner will appreciate—a colleague of mine who had no affection for the previous rough-riding and expensive run-flats.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.