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Mercedes-Benz M-class (ML320, ML350, ML500 and ML55) 2005 and earlier



  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    From # 6921, quote,

    “There are only two "odd" aspects of the ML's tranmission I notice. First, it has much less "creep" at a stop. I think this has something to do with the transmission "stall speed"

    Yes indeed, the Mercedes W5 three channel converter is one of the best transmissions available, is ultra smooth with fuzzy logic, that is why it can adapt to ones driving style while searching for optimal efficiency.
    The reason the transmission doesn’t pull that much at idle is because the converter uncouples significantly towards neutral. All in all is a very sturdy transmission my ML 430 is going into its 5th year, I bought it mainly as an utility vehicle, I have been pulling my two three seater jetskies that long and several times my 23ft boat (over 5000lbs) and not long ago I pulled a tractor on a heavy trailer which included several miles of dirt road on hilly terrain to a camp, total weight about 8,000lbs, the transmission is as smooth as day one.

    When I first bought the ML I was a little skeptical, now I realize is a very sturdy vehicle, I guess that is why it won the Dakar race three times in the unmodified class, meaning as is from the showroom, in a way now I look some of the mid size luxo SUV’s with contempt.

    Next year I will make a decision, either a VW Touareg with the V10 diesel if available if not another ML before they switch to the frameless design, I heard the rumors that MBZ will drop the deep reduction and abandon the off road abilities for a more car like ride since that is what the consumer demands, what a shame.

    I took this picture at the MBZ plant in Alabama a few years ago.
  • kxs1kxs1 Posts: 6
    Mark, sorry. i meant to say 41870.
  • chile96chile96 Posts: 330
    Hi all. I'm about to purchase a new SUV to replace my 5 yr old tahoe and never really considered the ML because, now don't bark at me, I just didn't like the look. However, when researching some prices, I saw that the TMV for ML320 is BELOW invoice so now the vehicle is much more attractive all of the sudden. Can I really expect this price from a Houston dealer? I'm guessing that it's low because they're discontinuing the 320 for the 350? Are there any caveats about buying this model when it's about to be discontinued?

    Thanks for all the help
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    There are some super aggressive prices out there now, although I don't know about Houston. ML350s are discounted pretty aggressively too.

    If you are willing to live with the spotty reliability record, the ML to me still represents one of the best compromises out there between off-road capabiltity, towing capability, roominess, and reasonable highway manners. Everything else either has gone to a car-based platform (e.g., Pilots) or is pretty crude. Touaregs are interesting, but I can't imagine buying the first-year of a brand new complex platform with VW's recent track history of half-baked products.

    The looks grow on you - it is just the right size and feels Euro and efficient for what you get. It looks almost CRV-size when it fact, it is bigger (and much wider) than an Explorer. So you get the look and feel of a more nimble SUV, but lots of room inside, especially in width. The engines and transmissions are extremely solid. The ergos inside are awful and the electrical systems and accessories are the biggest reliability concern, so if you can, I'd forgo as many of the gizmos as you can, especially the nav.

    If you get a great price, I'd jump on it.

    - Mark
  • markjennmarkjenn Posts: 1,142
    Sounds pretty good, but what's MSRP and invoice? Sounds like chile96 could use your datapoint for his negotiations too.

    - Mark
  • I looked at the 320s when I got my 350. Basically because any extra horsepower is good when you're at 6000 feet. As far as pricing goes, you'll do better on the 320 for sure as they have a $2000.00 incentive attached to them. My problem here is there are about 3 MB dealers in a 700 mile radius which leads to not so great discounts - unless, of course, you play the "but I got this price here from a dealer in Cincinnati" bit, which will help in getting a lower price.

    As far as the truck goes, present issues notwithstanding : ), I'm really happy with it. I *really* like how it handles on the road and in parking lots. It feels like I'm driving a jeep almost in that I have great visibility and a very short turning radius - but I don't feel like I'll tip over. Cargo room is ample for my trips across country (Denver to Ohio and back 1 or 2 times a year) with the whole gang - although I do miss not being able to sleep on the third seat our mini-van has : ) The truck was unstoppable when I was back in Ohio during January, ice, sleet, freezing rain, and snow and nary a complaint or false step during commutes of 100 miles a day. I was even able to go where my brother-in-laws jeep GC got stuck - his street. No trouble at all. So for foul weather I can attest this truck works well - even with the standard tires. Don't know how much snow/ice you'll see down in Houston, but if you get any, you'll be prepared.

    The interior does need some improvements - like the volume control about as far away as it could be from the driver. Cup holders are, well, my Pinto had better. But heating/cooling controls seem to be much improved over the older style and I rather like the seats and leg room.

    As far as drivability is concerned, I really like how this truck handles at 90+ MPH. Very crisp and just the right amount of steering input required to keep it on track. Unlike other vehicles I have driven where any small correction at such speeds felt like the vehicle was going to lunge off the road. But low speed turns could use a little more boost to return to center.

    It's a hard decision - I wrestled with it for a couple of weeks. But I really liked the form factor and the GVWR. Most any other truck rated at over 6000lbs was larger and I didn't want that. Drive the MB a couple of times over the course of a few days and then drive the other cars/trucks you're considering - I think you'll find the MB experience attractive over the domestic trucks. Oh, and when you go to seal the deal, make them provide *and install* mudflaps - if you're so inclined. It will keep the tar off the side of the truck and the back end. Otherwise the cost of the things alone will be nearly $300.00. Not your typical cut pieces of plastic here, thank you very much : )
  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    I agree with most of what you said except with your statement about “spotty reliability” if you allow me to clarify the meaning of the word reliability on a vehicle, to me unreliable means one can NOT depend on the vehicle to take me from point A to point B because somewhere along the way the vehicle will brake down, the odds being stacked against the vehicle.

    In all fairness the vehicle had some issues that fall mostly in the category of annoyances, the most serious ones being the fuel pump clogging up, and yes that one left a few people stranded so I guess I have to back track and rely on my definition, and the famous clamp on the steering pump hose, a 75cts piece that can cause some grief, but all in all the majority of the issues fall in the category of annoyances like a window switch failing or a light coming on or a rattle here and there, a few people became irritated over those. But all said the truck is very rugged and strong built, of all the midsize SUV’s the ML is the strongest, only domestic come close. See my message #6922 and judge by the picture, that is a very beefy transmission.

    In the US the ML is rated at 5000lbs towing capacity but in Europe is rated at 7,200lbs because of different laws, somewhere in Wolfgang’s ML page is the article.

    As far as looks go I agree is not exactly the most aesthetic but carefully thought out, I think is because the window lines go up towards the rear plus a short overhang gives the vehicle sort of a wedge of cheese look, and the hood slants downwards but visibility is excellent, the short overhang is a plus when towing because it places the hitch close to the rear axle where it should go and minimizes swaying on the road, especially when towing heavy.

    Under the skin there is a real truck, mounted on a heavy ladder frame, low range, very good off-road for the intended purpose, good driving characteristics on the road and very well engineered, truly dual purpose, a car like truck. Too bad the diesel version is not sold in the US, I had the chance to watch one at the plant, a 400CDI, none of the clatter or vibration of a domestic diesel, sounded like a turbine.
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    That's Gouda. MLs looks brawny to me. I agree about getting mud flaps, especially for a white ML with 275s.

    Some are critical of the ML's styling (I assume non purchasers) but the concept of making a SUV with a car-compatible bumper height engineered into the design does impact the styling compared to the crossover-type alternatives.

    There is some subtle styling details that probably only an owner notices, e.g., the tuck at the lower half of rear quarter panel, almost giving a slight bulge look at the back because the of the narrowing the roof from front to back (something you're more likely to notice if you install roof racks). I think MLs probably would be one of he most aerodynamic of the SUVs if not for the ground clearance and big mirrors (prior to '01).
  • chile96chile96 Posts: 330
    Thanks for all your help w/ those questions so far. I'm thinking about leasing a ML320/350 now for 3/36. Does anyone know the residual % or money factor MB has for the ML series? Also, does MB allow you to make multiple security deposits that will lower the MF life BMW does?

    Thanks for the help all
  • she1122she1122 Posts: 33
    I have a 2000 ML 430 that I bought about 6 months ago with 19000 miles on it. Everything has been great and it is still under warranty. Here's the question, about 3 days ago when I started it up, I noticed a smell that would make one think someone had been drinking in the truck! Now I notice the smell every so often when driving ! It is unpleasant and I did not even spend the night at a night club!! Maybe the car did !! Should I be concerned ? What could it be?
  • joeindenverjoeindenver Posts: 31
    Is it a Desino edition? Don't know when these were first available (give me time) but I've read elsewhere that if the leather get's really hot it can smell odd. Something to do with the different tanning process for that kind of leather.
  • she1122she1122 Posts: 33
    We live in Portland,Oregon and it has not been hot ! The smell seems to come from the ventilation system with the fan on. It is not the air conditioning system as we have not used it. It is a smell like alcohol on a person's breath esp. when you have not been drinking and you smell it on someone else!!
  • mac320mac320 Posts: 147
    It couldn't be caused by a reaction of the interior to hot weather: we also have an '00 ML430, purchased new in May 2000, and have been in over 100 deg heat for one week per year since the Summer of '02.

    If it only appears after start-up, I'd guess it must be caused by a leak of something or some contamination in the ventilation system, e.g., engine coolant; otherwise, someone must have spilled something, in which case, maybe you could nose around the cargo area.
  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    Most probably is the windshield washing solution, when delivered it comes in full strength, some of the vapors in hot weather are sucked by the ventilation system. As the solution is used up and diluted with just plain water the smell goes away.
  • she1122she1122 Posts: 33
    Thanks everyone for input. The smell has suddenly gone away. I do remember using the washer fluid once or twice recently, and I do not use it often. I wonder if that could be the culprit as thor8 suggests. We will use the washer fluid tomorrow and wait and see if the smell comes back. I will post if that happens !! Thanks!!
  • khoonkhoon Posts: 84
    A few years ago, I heard the ML320 qualified for an accelerated depreciation schedule since it weighed 6000 lbs. Evidently there's an IRS guideline that allows a tax payer to accelerate the depreciation of a vehicle that weighs in at 6000lbs, or more. I have a '99 ML320 and the sticker in the driver's door sill says that the GVAW(?) is 6005 lbs. Do the new ML350s weigh the same? Does anyone know whether or not these SUVs qualify for the accelerate ddepreciation?

    Also, I understand there are some aggressive prices out there. Anybody here get a good deal in the NY/NJ area? How about $41K with M1, M5, M7, Xenon, and Silver metallic?
  • kxs1kxs1 Posts: 6
    Khoon, I just got a 2003ML350 last week in NJ for 41870. It has P38 (which is m1+m2), runroof, heated seats, bose sound, silver paint and xeon light.
  • khoonkhoon Posts: 84
    Kxs1 thanks for sharing your information.
  • chumsaechumsae Posts: 61
    Go to my entry in the ML vs Acura vs, etc., etc.
    area. Then page 21. Look for entry #391. This
    outlines the accellerated depreciation for cars
    with GVLW of 6,000 + lbs.
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