The Mercedes-Benz M-Class covers a broad spectrum, starting from less than $36,000 and ranging up to a $65,900 hot rod. The ML320 delivers a balance of the rugged looks, room, security and utility that SUV buyers seek, while the ML55 AMG delivers startling performance.
While some 4X4s offer rugged-terrain tires and greater ground clearance than the M-Class, they behave more like trucks on the highway. Other sport-utilities, such as the Lexus RS 300, feel more car-like than the M-Class on pavement, but offer limited off-road capability. The M-Class strikes a balance many people like, and sports that three-pointed star on the hood that so many covet.
New for 2001 is the addition of the company's Tele Aid emergency calling system as standard equipment on all models. Smart dual-stage front airbags have been employed to know when to deploy with partial or full force. A new downhill traction control and a new crawling mode for slow descents on steep terrain come standard on all 2001 M-Class models. Two new designo Editions bring special paint colors, upholstery and trim to the M-Class lineup for 2001.
Three models are available: $35,800 ML320, $44,200 ML430 and $65,900 ML55 AMG.
ML320 comes with a 3.2-liter V6, while the ML430 comes with a 268-horsepower overhead-cam 4.3-liter V8. The limited-production ML55 AMG comes with a 342-horsepower 5.5-liter V8.
M-Class comes standard with dual front airbags, side-impact airbags that deploy from the front seats, seatbelt pretensioners and automatic belt force limiters. A child-seat recognition system prevents deployment of the front passenger airbags when an appropriate child safety seat is installed.