2006 Mercedes Benz ML
2006 Mercedes Benz ML
2006 Mercedes Benz ML
Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, 2006–2011. Click image to enlarge

Vehicle Type: Crossover SUV

History/Description: The Mercedes ML Class was the first German luxury ute on the scene when it hit the market some years ago – and it paved the way for numerous competitors from automakers around the world to join a thriving market segment.

For its last complete generation, which ran 2006 to 2011, the ML was available with gas or diesel propulsion from a range of six or eight-cylinder engines to suit a variety of needs.

Standard on all models were 4Matic four-wheel drive, an automatic transmission and a list of luxury must-haves. Feature content for the family-ready posh-hauler included rear-seat DVD entertainment consoles, a sunroof, automatic climate control, xenon lights, climate controlled seats, Bluetooth, and plenty more. Look for a panoramic glass roof, push-button start, a power tailgate, and a potent Harman Kardon stereo system, as well as a radar parking system, push-button ‘SOS’ calling system, and xenon lights for added driving confidence.

Note that no low-range equipped transfer case was available, nor was a manual transmission.

Key competitors included the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and BMW X5.

Engines/Trim: Models with the CDI or Bluetec designation ran diesel power, while elsewhere in the range, a three-digit number referenced the equipped powerplant. ML 350 got a 3.5L, 268-horsepower V6, while the ML 500 got a five-litre V8 with 302 horsepower. The ML 500 gave way to the ML 550, with a 5.5 litre V8 packing 382 ponies. Note that tuned-up, high-performance AMG model variants were available too, but we’ll cover these in another review.

What Owners Like: Owners tend to comment positively on the ML’s stereo system, solid and planted ride, all-weather traction and powertrain refinement. The ML, when powered by the five-litre V8, offers pleasing performance and confident towing. The brand pedigree and all-around luxury amenities round out the package. As an all-around luxury SUV package, many owners say this one’s hard to beat.

What Owners Dislike: Complaints may include poor gas mileage, a rough ride in units with the up-sized wheels, and expensive maintenance bills. The navigation system and associated infotainment functions aren’t, apparently, the most user-friendly on the market, often requiring a learning curve to use efficiently.
Here are some owner reviews from www.autoTRADER.ca.

2006 Mercedes Benz ML2006 Mercedes Benz ML2006 Mercedes Benz ML
Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, 2006–2011. Click image to enlarge

The Test Drive: If opting for an earlier copy of an ML from this generation, be aware that the online owner’s community has done a good job of documenting the issues you might expect to encounter.

Unfortunately, a number of them are fairly serious.

Test-drivers are advised to listen to any unusual noise from the front of the vehicle, notably a whirring, grinding or whining sound. A well-known front differential issue may be the cause, and the whining sounds usually come just ahead of differential failure, which is not inexpensive to remedy. Note that unwelcomed sensations like those mentioned above could also be caused by a bad wheel bearing. Here’s some reading and even more reading.

2006 Mercedes Benz ML
Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, 2006–2011. Click image to enlarge

Warning lights or messages, hard shifting from the transmission, slipping during acceleration or gearshifts, surging or other unusual behavior from the transmission on an earlier ML from this generation may all be evidence of an issue with the transmission valve body, programming software, or both. Here’s some more information, and a few stories from owners who have experienced transmission issues. Talk to the seller and see if any repair work has been performed on the transmission. This is another potential out-of-pocket expense that you’d probably rather not incur.

Balance shaft sprocket failure, which is expensive and requires removal of the engine for replacement, is another known issue with the 3.5 litre V6 engine, code-named M272. Determine if the seller has had the issue addressed under warranty, and ask a Mercedes technician for his opinion. If buying privately, a dealer can run the VIN number to see if upgraded parts were installed to address the issue, which apparently saw the timing chain eat through a sprocket inside of the engine in quick order.

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