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Mercedes-Benz M-class vs Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer vs Buick Rendezvous vs Acura MDX

drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
edited March 2014 in Mercedes-Benz
As requested, here is the 7 passenger mid-size luxury or near luxury SUV comparison topic. Feel free to compare the pros and cons of each vehicle, but please keep it civil and agree to disagree if need be. As mentioned, all of these SUVs are available with either standard or optional 7 passenger seating.


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  • tincup47tincup47 Posts: 1,508
    You forgot one Mid-size near luxury SUV with 7 seats as an available option, The Land Rover Discovery. They have had 7 seats available since 1994. This predates all of the others.
  • sirknightdsirknightd Posts: 96
    might as well add the mitsubishi montero
  • skimmelskimmel Posts: 43
    What about the Toyota Landcruiser?
  • tincup47tincup47 Posts: 1,508
    Has 7 seats, but is much more expensive. Nice vehicle though.
  • tonychrystonychrys Posts: 1,310
    You get what you pay for. The MDX and ML simply out class the other vehicles, the ML in terms of body-on-frame vehicles and the MDX in terms of unibody vehicles.

    This topic is done before it even started.

    If you are looking for the "cheapest" vehicle, that's another story.
  • bjk2001bjk2001 Posts: 358
    Which one is better ML or MDX?
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    Well, I'm reposting this from a post I made on the rendezvous board. As I see it, here is how they rank...
    RDV=Buick Rendezvous, ML=Mercedes ML320
    MDX=Acura MDX, Explorer=Ford Explorer/Mountaineer

    Safety - ML,MDX,RDV,Explorer
    Power - MDX, ML, Exp, RDV
    Handling - ML, RDV, MDX, Exp
    Interior - ML, RDV, MDX, Exp
    Refinement - ML, RDV, MDX, Exp
    Versatility - RDV, ML, MDX, Exp
    Towing - Exp, ML, MDX, Rdv

    Overall, I'd have to say ML in the 40k range, and Rendezvous in the 30K range.

    Explore has questionable quality, fit and finish are terrible. Handling is "mushy" with little to no road feel. One can easily tell its a gussied up Ford Ranger.
    Rendezvous has a fold flat rear seat that is actually usable by adults. Good build quality,great fit and finish, unfortunately underpowered. A good budget choice.
    MDX is great, as long as you realize 3rd row is for young children only. Access is very poor, and interior is typical Honda..good fit, good integrity, but thin leather, fake wood and cheap switchgear. Nice engine though.
    ML seats 7 adults, but not as much luggage room as others. Good sedanlike handling, good acceleration, good offroad ability. Overall the best choice IMO.
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65 depends what you need seating wise. Both are good vehicles, with good handling, brakes, acceleration. If you need versatility with cargo, MDX is the way to go. Fold flat seats(both rows), lots of room. However 3rd row seats are almost unusable by adults,and access is very tricky.
    If you need 7 adult seating, good offroad ability, towing >3500lbs, then ML is the way to go. However, MDX has much more room for cargo, and is slightly cheaper too...
    Drive em both.
  • tincup47tincup47 Posts: 1,508
    I don't think so, it tests very well. The 2002 has side curtain airbags along with all the regular safety features. The Rendevous comes from a very checkered platform that has tested miserably in IIHS tests, and it's sibling the Aztek has mediocre results at best. In real world statistics the Explorer has a very low death rate for SUV's. Proteus has been trashing the Explorer on every board I've seen him on, certainly he does not give objective advise.
  • tonychrystonychrys Posts: 1,310
    As previously stated, it depends on what your needs are. The ML is "truck" based and the MDX is unibody or "car" based (actually a minivan, but you get the idea).

    One of my main criteria is safety and the ML wins hands down. On paper (active safety systems) and in independent testing (IIHS) it's one of the top three SUVs, along with the X5 and RX300.

    Maybe safety isn't important to you and speed is. I suspect a Explorer with a V8 option is pretty quick (though I admit I haven't seen test results). Again, all depends on your needs.
  • bjk2001bjk2001 Posts: 358
    So ML is the safest SUV in the group, MDX is not as safe as ML? Does that mean best head on, side impact and roll over rate? Please educate me. Can someone tell me where the web sites are for all the independant or non-independant results?

    ps 1: If I am looking for power and money is not issue. I will get SAFE and FFAASSTT ML55 AMG 342 HP 376 ft lb torque which will leave Explorere V8 in dust. Only costs $66.5 K price tag.
    ps 2 Edmunds review comment for ML
    Pros: Safe, comfortable, car-like ride and handling, excellent bad-weather vehicle.
    Cons: Reputation for poor build quality, looks like a minivan, not particularly adept off-road.
    "end quote
  • Proteus,

    Jeez, I seem to keep running across your messages wherever I go. You keep talking about the fit and finish, and the rattling in the Explorer. It's funny, but the one we drove demonstrated none of those qualities. It was tight and refined, as was the Sport-Trac my friend took delivery of on Friday. My 97 F-150 is as tight and rattle free as the day I picked it up...4 1/2 years ago. I know all manufacturers' have problems, but it seems you like to pick on the Fords. I'm a soon to be owner of a 2002 XLT Exploder, and maybe I'll hate it after 3 months, but I'm trying to remain optomistic.

    Please, give me a break with the Ford bashing.
  • robsmithrobsmith Posts: 71
    I owned a '98 ML before the 3rd row was available and traded it for a Land Cruiser. I saw a ML(with 3rd row) at the auto show and sat in the 3rd row and I can only imagine putting babies back there because there wasn't much leg room at all unless you sacrificed the leg room of the middle row.

    If anyone is getting this because it can seat 7 they should really re-think it. It's great if you only need seating for 5.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    The 2nd row can be moved forward to make room for the 3rd row passengers. There enough legroom back there for average sized adults to be comfortable for short (45 minutes to 1 hour-ish) trips. I suspect the ML that you saw had its 2nd row moved all of the way back for maximum 2nd row legroom/comfort. Don't forget that those floor panels behind the 2nd row seats also conceal the 3rd row's footwell.

    The ML's 3rd row legroom is definitely more than the Acura MDX's and the Land Rover Discovery II's in my experience.

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  • robsmithrobsmith Posts: 71
    I saw that the seats moved forward on the ML but if you put adults in the 2nd row(with the seats slid forward) and adults or even teens in the 3rd row I think you would have unhappy passengers in both rows.

    I did miss the foot well though.

    I've never seen the MDX or LR but I was impressed with the Buick Rendezvous and thought the 2002 Mountaineer was adequate.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    I've sat in the 3rd row for 45 minutes with 3 adults in the 2nd row. No one was complaining since there was adequate room for everyone. The 3rd row footwell (which is normally covered) is the most important part! Without it, siting back there would be unpleasant indeed.

    The Explorer's 3rd row is okay (better than the Acura MDX's, but the seatback angle is not), but the seats are not as comfortable as the ML's and neither is the legroom. In my humble opinion, they're too thin and too flat. They also seemed to be a bit cheaply made, especially with the thin head restraints.

    Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary of course.

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  • skimmelskimmel Posts: 43
    robsmith (and others): How is the 3rd row in your Landcruiser? How easy is it to put kids back there?

    Seems to me that minivans provide much easier access to the 3rd row. What SUVs can do a comparable job?
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    Tincup-Unfortunately the Explorer lacks acceptable emergency handling, and stability control..its scary to corner at any speed in the thing. Real world statistics? just HOW many safety related recall as the "Exploder" had?
    BJK- I rated safety based on features, and test results if available. The Acura lacks two things I felt are important in any SUV, rear side airbags, and stability control. Ditto the ford. However, MDX is based on Odyssey platform which does get good results. Remember..these are PERSONAL ratings, based on my research, and experience driving all of them. YMMV. BTW, that Edmunds review was for earlier models...the 2001's are much nicer, and more competant offroad.
    Footballfan. First, Ford quality used to be better. My observations are just that, based on my experience driving 1 2002 Explorer Ltd, 1 Explorer EB, and 1 Mountaineer. Perhaps I got unlucky....All I would suggest is don't take my word for it, check out an ML320, MDX, etc and see for yourself. If you're used to typical ford interiors, the explorer may be fine. I currently drive an Audi A4 (which has a very nice interior) so my standards are pretty high.

    I'm with Drew here on the ML 3rd row. If you need more room, you'll have either go to a minivan, or move up to a full size SUV like landcruiser/sequoia. The new 2002 Escalade is supposedly the best of the domestics. Yukon/Tahoe and Expedition/Excursion have some more room, but are major land barges, with horrible handling, gas milage, and body integrity. The Excursion is downright scary to drive. need to go as high as the ML55 if performance is a concern. The ML430 will blow the doors off the V8 Fords..for that matter even the ML320 comes pretty close. Of course, if performance is what you're after, a eurowagon might be the way to go.
  • robsmithrobsmith Posts: 71
    I beleive all SUV's use the flip/fold method of some type. The LC is pretty easy. One lever folds the seat and another pulls it out the way. For adults to get back it's a little tougher but no problem for teenagers or kids. My 5 year old takes the easiest route and just jumps over the seat. :)

    If you have to use your 3rd row constantly nothing beats a mini-van for ease. Of course the Rendezvous has 2nd row captain chair option and it may allow you to access the 3rd row between the seats but not sure since I haven't seen any with that option.

    The only negative about the LC 3rd row seats is taking them out(since it doesn't fold flat). They are heavy and it take some work.

    Drew - My look at the ML320 was the 5 minute variety and I didn't notice the foot well so I will accept your opinion. Maybe it is more functional than it first appeared.
  • tincup47tincup47 Posts: 1,508
    According to Edmunds, the Rendevous only offers traction control on its FWD versions and does not offer stability control at all. It also does not offer side curtain airbags. The Rendevous sister vehicle Aztek also has very mediocre ratings from NHTSA, and the Minivan the vehicle is based on has abysmal IIHS ratings.I will not argue that the Mercedes is a very safe vehicle, but to put the Explorer below the Rendevous puts your objectivity in question. You can site recalls, which the Explorer has, but real world statistics prove the Explorer is as safe as almost all SUVs.
  • skimmelskimmel Posts: 43
    Thanks for advise on 3rd row. That is very useful. So, do you not use your 3rd row all the time?

    If you plan on travelling with 3 kids in the car all the time (in car seats, boosters), would anyone recommend an SUV? Minivans do seem much more "user-friendly" but there are many features in an SUV that most minivans don't have.
  • robsmithrobsmith Posts: 71
    I have a 3 kids(2, 5, 15) and one on the way. I currently use the 3rd row to separate the 5 and 15 yr old but sometimes they all sit in the middle row.

    Once the baby comes it will be in use all of the time. I'm seriously considering a mini-van because if I have 2 child seats getting to the 3rd row will be a real pain.

    My other alternative is the Rendezvous with 2nd row captain chairs. I really want to keep the 4wd for Ohio winters.

    If you don't care about the 4wd I would go with a mini-van.
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    If you read what I said above, you'll see why I put explorer last..."Unfortunately the Explorer lacks acceptable emergency handling, and stability control..its scary to corner at any speed in the thing". Accident avoidence is a very important factor, and the Rendezvous does seem to handle significantly better. The Rendezvous has standard side torso airbags, which provide far greater side impact protection than side curtain airbags, which only protect in a rollover situation. Speaking of which, due to its truck based construction and high center of gravity, the explorer is far more likely to rollover. Stability control is a NECESSITY on a truck based SUV. In a minivan based SUV, with a low center of gravity, its not really needed. Also, Rendezvous is only loosly based on Aztek platform, there have been significan changes to size, suspension and body structure.
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    I thought the new Explorer had ESP? Ford made a big deal about it being a standard feature.

    Regarding truck based construction and CG, you should know that the ML has a lower CG than an RX300. It's not obvious visually so it's not intuitive. A lot of the weight of the ML is in the frame which is low. The ML also passed the moose test w/o ESP (though of course it adds more safety margin as it would with all cars/trucks/etc.)

    If I had 3 kids, I wouldn't get an SUV, IMHO. 2 would be the comfort limit. You eventually end up going out with parents, friends, etc. and just need more space.
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    The thing most people (including the media) missed with all the rollover hoopla is that the roof collapsed. It should *never* collapse. It was something I looked for while researching the m-class (including crash pics found on the net) for 2 years before deciding on it. If the roof collapses and your head gets hit, you'll probably get a spinal injury and become a quadraplegic...

    Then you have the shows about the idiots who were killed because they didn't have seat belts on and were thrown out of the car and squished. Particularly amusing was one segment where some family sobbed about how their family member was thrown out and oh by the way, he was sitting in the cargo area w/o a seatbelt. Sitting in the cargo area is illegal in some states for a reason ;-)
  • dforrdforr Posts: 53
    MDX is just fine for use by older teenagers and smaller adults.

    The Rendezvous looked abysmally short of 3rd row space. I crossed it off the list in less than 30 seconds. No statistic can possibly give you a clear picture of how little space is back there, as well as a 3rd row seat that doesn't split and fold.

    MDX split and fold is a superior feature. Explder doesn't do this, ML don't recall, but don't think so.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    "MB M-Class Owners: Photo Gallery" May 30, 2001 2:31am

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  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    On that MDX 3rd seat vs the others.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the MDX I saw, the only way to access the 3rd row was to slide part of the 2nd row forward a few inches, as it does NOT tumble forward. My wife (5'4) and I (5'11) both had to contort quite a bit to get in. Once inside, my knees were touching my chest, and my wife was very uncomfortable. Also no room for a rear facing childseat in there. The second row, as far as I could tell, did not slide forward and back (except for the small 30% section). So basically access was quite difficult, and legroom almost non existant. Did you SIT in the 3rd row of the Rendezvous? at 5'11, it was quite comfortable for me. I had more than enough legroom once I moved the 2nd row forward a bit. ML as well. Note that ML will also split and fold too. In addition, the ML seats seem far more solid than the MDX's.
    Just my observation, from sitting and driving in all these vehicles, YMMV.
  • All,

    I'm reading all of this stuff about the various makes of SUVs, and it seems to me it all boils down to needs of individuals, and planned usage. I must state up front that I'm a Honda fan, but they don't make a vehicle that will meet our needs, so I researched vehicles that would. My wife needs a vehicle to drive to work daily, not too big, as she doesn't like driving our F-150 on a daily basis. Therefore, throw out the Burb/Yukon and the Expi and the Excursion. Now then she needs something to haul her horse trailer, which is right at 5000 lbs, with the hosses of course. Then she needs something to occasionally haul a couple of hay bales or a sack of feed. And finally, we need something where we can occasionally seat more than 5 people. So my research led me to the Explorer/Mountaineer (V-8 with tow package), the Durango, the Jeep, and the new GM trio(GMs don't have the 3rd seat). My research did not lead me to the Benz or the Acura... they simply didn't have the tow capacity. None of the foreign SUVs would do what we needed.

    So here I am looking at our needs, and it came down to the Explorer or the Durango (I wouldn't own a Jeep). I obviously took into consideration the perfect (so far) experience I've had with my F-150. 4 1/2 years old, and not one trip to the dealer. So then it came down to the Ford or the Mercury, and based on price, we ordered the Ford.

    So Proteus and others, I hope this clears things up. Certain people will be happier with an Acura or Benz based on their lifestyle and needs, but for us, the Explorer seemed like a better choice.
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65're absolutely right. I would never suggest hauling feed, hay, or a horse trailer around with an Acura or Benz..LOL!
    Sounds like you made the right decision to go with Explorer/Durango. Honestly, Merc/MDX are designed as luxury people haulers, with some limited off-road and towing ability. For me, thats exactly what I need, an urban combat vehicle..:-)
    To the explorer's credit, it does have a very good emphasis on UTILITY..more so than most other SUV's...Sounds like you made the right choice for your needs...
  • kbpakbpa Posts: 8
    The RDZ has much more seating room than the MDX. With the RDZ second row seat in the most far back position and the MDX second row seat tilted (it doesn't slide up and back) to the most vertical position, the RDZ has considerably more knee and leg room in the third seat.

    The MDX seat does fold and flip, just like every other SUV in this class. The RDZ access is easier for adults approaching 6ft tall.

    On the minus side for RDZ, it doesn't split and the storage space behind the 3rd seat is noticeably less than MDX.
  • fastbuckfastbuck Posts: 11
    In addition to being turned off by their minivan-like appearances, ride and handling, we rejected the MDX and ML largely on the basis of their inadequate third rows. Unlike the Explorer's, the ML's wayback seats fold up on to the sides, interfering with storage (and generally looking like the afterthoughts that they are).Access and room are far less than great. As to the MDX, we were advised by Acura that the third row has a maximum per passenger weight limit of something like 80 lbs. Check out the flimsy seat backs and you'll see why. Since our kids and their friends are either at or way past that weight, the third row would be vitually useless to us in the near future.
    Meanwhile, my 5 foot 9 inch 13 year old has staked out the rear of the orchestra section of our new Explorer as his own personal property, and he and his equally oversized pals report that the accomodations are more than adequate, even for last weekend's 3 hour roadtrip with seven well fed Americans on board.
    Where the Explorer beats the others hands down is in its versatility. After unloading the aforsaid freeloaders from my vehicle, I dropped the middle and back rows and loaded in my overpriced and filthy mountain bike for a trip to some nearby mud. Unlike faux-luxury cars like the Mercedes and Acura, the Explorer doesn't pretend to be anything more than a truck, and getting it dirty feels right.
    If you want a luxury car with a third row kiddie seat, the Mercedes, Audi and Volvo wagons are all beter choices than the MDX or ML. If you want a luxury minivan, Chrysler does it best.
    But if you want a midsize truck that can carry seven real people or a whole lot of anything else, the 2002 Explorer is tough to beat.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    I agree that the Explorer is the ideal truck for your lifestyle. The 3rd row is better than MDX and ML. I know the ML is somewhat capable off-road but I don't know if the Explorer is any better. It dpends on whether it is AWD or part-time 4X4 with a low range.

    IMO, although the Explorer can be loaded up with luxury stuff, it gets expensive quickly and loses it's relative value. Modestly equipped, it is much more at home in the mud and a much better value.

    I think the Explorer's main competition in your areas of interest is the Dodge Durango. Just weigh the Dodge's sketchy reliability problems against that sweet, powerful 4.7L V8.
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    The Explorer really is in a lower catagory than the ML or MDX, its like trying to compare an Chevy to a Cadillac (or Toyota to a Lexus).. The ML320 excels at exactly what its designed for. Ultra safe urban combat vehicle that can occasionally carry 7 people, handle rain/snow/gravel, some recreational towing, and light offroading. Yep..I would never load a dirty mountain bike in an ML. However, I would never trust my kids safety to an Explorer, a vehicle that has major reliability and safety issues, lousy emergency handling. You mention being turned off by "minivan ride and handling" opposed to handling like a TRUCK? The ML handles like a good sedan. Crisp, good road feel, little body roll in the curves. The Explorer feels like a boat..exhibiting that typical domestic mushiness. On that 3rd row. The ML has a nice HEAVY SOLID third row, that seats 2 adults quite comfortably, with good legroom. Access is as good as the Explorers. Yes, it doesn't fold into the floor...but most of the time it won't be in who cares!
    Sounds like you need to carry 7 real people all the time..why aren't YOU in a minivan? Do you go offroad? Are you a contractor..hauling plywood and crap? If so, go with a truck or truck based SUV. If not..a minivan or luxury SUV is perfect for you. Better handling and mileage than any truck. Crossovers like the MDX and Rendezvous are also great compromises.
    Oh.. and on that "faux" luxury thing? Check out the LTD or EB versions for an idea of "faux". Then check out the ML, BMW X5, MDX for true luxury.
    In anycase, Fedlawman is right, they really don't match up well..if you need cheap family transport for dirty kids, minivan is the way to go. If you need to haul stuff, or do some light offroading, check out the Explorer or Durango. If you need safe luxurious family transport in city and to the campground.., then MDX, ML, RX300, or Rendezvous are the way to go.
  • Explorer has some of the best crash ratings. (Read safety) Just don't take a 30 degree slope sideways, or do donuts at full throttle and you won't have to worry about rollovers.
    Urban combat vehicle? LOL, why not paint it cammoflage, add some hydrolics, and limo tint? It's just a minivan. It can carry a lot of people, but not a lot of weight. Throw in 5-6 people(I feel sorry for those in the 3rd row who have to crawl over seats to get there) and see how your car like manners are. Explorers definately aren't for driving finese(sic), but they will give you good highway manners with good offroad manners combined, if you are ever inclined to go camping, or offroading, or towing. It may not be the master of the highway, but it is a jack of all trades.
    Mercedes is known for poor build quality, especially for a minivan costing 35k-61k in price. Explorers problems are not as common as you think, as there will always be more on the road that Mercedes ever will have. Simple math, More vehicles = more problems reported = More Media broadbanding <> or != (does not equal) a higher percentage of vehicles with problems. Those with problems will always be the loud voices who want to be heard.
    ML's 3.2l has no MPG benefit vs a 4.0l Explorer. It's acutally advertised at 1 mpg worse.
    You would never trust your kids in an Explorer. That's fine, but the Explorer will have moved more families and kids than mercedes ever will, and without incident.
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    Actually, the ML320 can carry plenty of weight, full ladder frame construction, 5000lbs tow capacity, and a 1389lb payload. Explorer Ltd is rated at 1032lb payload.
    Its obvious you've never seen one. The third row seats are easily accesable. The 40% portion of the second row folds down and tumbles forward, helped by a hydraulic lift. Access is actually easier than in the Explorer.
    Crash tests? Its rated as "acceptable" by IIHS, and "poor" for rollover rating. The ML320 is rated as "good", and has the second highest overall rating (just behind BMW X5). If an explorer does rollover, the roof will crush. The ML has reinforcement to prevent this.
    Mileage? You must be pulling figures from your butt. Explorer SOHC V6 is rated at 15/20. The ML320 is rated at 17/21. Check your figures again.
    Mercedes is known for poor build quality? I won't even bother with that one..LOL. There were a few small issues with the first model years (98-99), as with any new model. These were completely resolved.
    So...check your numbers again..I got mine from Carpoint and Edmunds.
    ML320 is certainly not a minivan, neither is it pickup truck based. It does have full frame construction for the strength of an SUV, and the offroad capability of an SUV, but was designed to have the road manners and handling of a sedan..the best of all worlds. Its pretty obvious you've never actually driven one. Do the research before you make your comparisons.
  • barresa62barresa62 Posts: 1,379
    You keep quoting all this "stuff" about Explorers, such as lack of roll-over protection, boat-like handling, etc. Sounds like the 2001 and older models. Have you driven the 2002 models? I have not, but from all the reviews I've read so far (about 4) they are great comments about the handling now that the Explorer uses an IRS and has lowered the center of gravity. The roll-over aspect has also been addressed with a beefier safety cage and airbags for the head area w/roll-over sensors. The ML is a great vehicle in its own right but get "your" facts straight about the new Explorer before denegrading it at every turn (pardon the pun).

  • Why would I drive a SUV who's base model price equals the Limited edition price of Explorer? That's more expensive than the Eddie Bauer, XLT and XLS. Milage, well I went to manual trans quote on edmunds, so that's probably why you're confused. The Explorer sport is 18/22 mpg. I could practially buy two of them vs the cost of one ML. You have to consider all avaialble options, as Ford has over 16 models of Explorer to consider, vs 3 M-series models. It's nice to have options like a manual trans available in a vehicle too.
    That's funny the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. give 2001 explorer 4 stars on frontal and 5 stars on side impact collisions. Pretty darn good, can't get much better.

    Man you just don't give up. Either a lot of the issues were lost in the ascii translation, or miss interpreted altogether... I just think you have issues, and too much free time. :)

    Depate, pick apart, and misconstrue all you want. There will always be more Explorers sold than your ML ever will.

    Over 440,000 units sold last year, how many did ML do? 90,000.
    4.8 : 1 Americans choose Explorers

    I think I'm going back to steve(host)'s suggestion and just let you live in your own little world, any further post by you will be ignored. BUH BYE
  • gpvsgpvs Posts: 214
    "It's nice to have options like a manual trans available in a vehicle too"

    Just to add (don't know whether you already know this) but the ML320's automatic transmission is touchshift so you can downshift and upshift just like a manual trans.
  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    The cheaper the price the more it will sell, with Ford selling more, it proves only that.

    I am not putting down the Explorer, for the price I guess is a good value, as a matter of fact wherever I could I defended the Explorer in this Firestone/roll over fiasco, since I read an extensive article from an independent party that did some testing to see if it was anything wrong with the vehicle, their finding was that the roll overs were caused by driver error and I believe that too.

    My son had an Explorer and I am familiar with it, I also own a 430ML and there is a big difference, mainly in the quality of ride, I tow a boat around 5000lbs and is silky smooth at 70mph, when the transmission is in low gear and in first the engine and transmission feels like an electric motor and just about sounds like it, when sitting at iddle in a light one can not tell if the engine is running, no puttering or vibrations, one has to look at the tachometer to realize that the engine is running. Some say that the ML looks like a minivan, maybe so, but beauty is more that skin deep, I am posting a picture of the transmission of an ML320 that I took at the Alabama plant, is a heafty unit, but more impresive was the fine craftmanship, at first we tought it was a plastic muck up, so finely it was crafted, independent suspesion with massive forged aluminun A frames, so is the engine, with three valves per cylinder and two spark plug per cylinder, each set with it's own voltage coil and drive by wire, all cradled in a beefy frame, at once one realizes that the internal parts are cut with even more precicion and highly engineered, since they have cut away sections for all to see in the technology museum. That is why the ML430 is a truck that rides like a car, despite having massive suspension components and tires, in its own rigth the ML is a good value for the money, if we consider the technology and crafmanship that is under the skin.


  • ncjudgencjudge Posts: 30
    I, too, have driven the MDX, Rendezvous, Explorer and Mountaineer, most several times.

    Contrary to a post above, the 2nd row seats do tilt forward in the MDX. Getting to the third row, is easier in the RDZ and the Explorer. But I sat in the third row of the RDZ, and had less legroom than in the MDX AND felt physically walled off from the rest of the vehicle with the 2nd row seatbacks upright. THe Explorer and MDX 3rd rows were much more comfortable to me, at 6"0" and 185 lbs. I'm not aware of a weight limit on the MDX 3rd row, but if there is one, I would love to have documentation of that, as it would affect my decision on an SUV.

    I realize that this doesn't comport with the published leg room for these vehicles, but this was my impression.

    Also, I would not recommend the Volvo, Audi, or any other wagon with the so-called third seat for children.Those seats are far less useful than the SUV 3rd seats I've sat in, AND face backwards. We would not put our children in them.

    I don't own any of these SUV's yet, and have no axe to grind for or against any of them. Just my observations.
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    You just keep giving me more ammunition..
    Yes..I've driven 2002 Explorer, not the 2001. If you want to compare, drive them both..treviews are quite subjective. Test drives are free.
    The Explorer Sport is a COMPLETELY different vehicle. Its a two door version of the 2001 model. The "sport" has a solid rear axle, different transmission, and has none of the safety or handling improvements of the 2002 comparison.
    There is NO manual available in the 2002 Explorer.
    Crash tests? I was using the IIHS figures, the 40mph offset crash and rollover test..far more "real world" IMO.
    Why would you pay more for ML than for Explorer Limited? Drive one and find out. Same reason you'd pay more for a Porsche when a Mustang Cobra is just as fast. Same reason you'd buy a Lexus versus a Toyota.
    Why the lower sales numbers?
    1) Its a luxury vehicle...fewer people can afford em. Using your example, how many Explorer LTD/EB models sold vs the ML? Direct comparison please. The base model isn't even in the same class.
    2) People (like you?) haven't driven the ML and don't know any better
    I seriously wonder if you've actually driven the ML..take a look at Thor's pic above if you want to see an example of the design and quality of these vehicles. I suggest you actually drive the Mercedes before making comparisons.
    Oh.. a final point...The free market seems to agree with me on Mercedes durability vs Ford. 4 year lease residuals are at 52% for ML320, and 40% for the Explorer (
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    Good point on those seats. To allow access to rear seat in MDX however, the 40% section slides, and seatback folds. However, that section does not tumble forward like on Expl, ML, or Rendezvous. The entire 2nd row of the Rendezvous (and ML) slides forward to allow more legroom for rear occupants. Like this, you can fit adults comfortably in the back, while still enough room in 2nd row. The ML probably has the most comfortable 3rd row, however, also the hardest to configure. Unlike the others, the ML 3rd row does NOT fold flat into the floor, and you have to use the supplied floorplates to get a flat loadfloor with 2nd row folded down. Its basically like most german cars...hard to use, but works beautifully when you do.However, if you plan to change configurations often, ML is not a good choice.
    Just as an aside, I was in the same position as you. I came into this completely objectively. I've owned 1 Ford before (happily) and no GM, Mercedes, or Acura vehicles. I've driven and researched all the vehicles talked about here, and basically..I just call em like I see em. While I may upset some of the diehard "Ford Truck" purists be it. I loved my Taurus SHO...Ford still sells quality cars..unfortunately they stay in Europe and never seem to make it over here..(Mondeo...sigh).
  • Although I'm not gonna argue the EB vs Limited vs Benz deal, I thought I'd throw in my two cents worth.

    We just picked up our 2002 XLT tonight. V-8, tow pack, 3rd seat, premium sound (the one mistake the dealer made...we didn't order it), and side airbags. Got it for invoice, but had to wait 6 weeks. It was just a tad over $28K out the door, and given our needs and choice of finances, it was the best vehicle I could find to meet them. Now for my impression.

    Fit and finish are excellent. Not a Benz, but I didn't expect that. Ride is very good, although admittedly I didn't take it over anything challenging. Acceleration felt very good...took it on the freeway, and although I didn't romp it, it got up to 70 quickly. It was very squeaks or rattles. Handling and driver input/feedback were impressive. I noticed a little hesitation shifting occasionally, but have read it is common when they are new. Stereo is good for a factory unit, but I'm used to the tunes in my F-150 and Legend which are fairly high-dollar aftermarket units. But I guess the thing that suprised me the most was the 3rd seat. Although I had looked at them before we ordered, I had never actually sat in the rear seat. I was impressed. I'm 6' 2", and though the seat sits low, there was adequate legroom. My knees did not touch the 2nd row seats. I wouldn't want to ride in it for 1000 miles, but it's a good design for occasional use to carry more than 4 people. And as far as I'm concerned, the 2nd row tilt-forward design is very good.

    Overall, I'm very impressed with the new design, as well as the build quality. This is my wife's car, and she likes it so far also. It will tow my boat, her hoss trailer (in fact, probably both at the same time), and a gaggle o' kids once or twice a year to birthday parties or Whitewater Bay. I can't say I drove a Benz to compare it simply didn't meet our needs, nor would it fit my budget. I could afford it...I simply chose not to. Now for the killer...

    It's got a V-8, that WONDERFUL new car smell, and I don't get to drive it!!!
  • rpageaurpageau Posts: 94
    This discussion is a real hoot, and I would love to see more people weigh in with their opinions. I have no standing here to add anything, as I am not in the market for any of these vehicles (in fact I bought a 2002 TrailBlazer in March). I just enjoy reading some of the other discussions on the board for educational purposes.

    I have no love for Explorers, don't trust them, wouldn't own one. However, I am beginning to feel a little sorry for them, and wondering how a truck got sucked into a comparison with a bunch of very nice minivans. Didn't seem fair. Oh yeah, that's right, it's because they tried to be something they weren't by adding a third row seat. Oh well, maybe I don't feel so bad for them after all seeing they brought it on themselves.
  • I got a hoot too...reading all of those posts from pissed off Trailblazer/Envoy/Bravada owners who's cars were sitting idle for 30 days waiting for parts from GM due to the recall. Especially liked the ones where the GM dealers were taking the replacement parts and putting them on units for sale on the lot, as opposed to fixing the customer's vehicles. As for the 3rd row seat, it will actually work very well for us. It will only be an occasional thing, but it's there when we need it. Too bad the engineers at GM couldn't figure out how to add one.
  • proteus456proteus456 Posts: 65
    Still trucks, with typical truck quality and build, but they have a damned nice engine. That DOHC I6 is a real gem. Now, if GM would put it in the'd have about a perfect SUV. The pathetic 3.4 pushrod dates back from the chevy citation. Someday they'll get it right..:-)
  • rpageaurpageau Posts: 94
    Footballfan777...I believe GM is introducing a third row seat version later this year, which I personally believe is a mistake. I'll stick by the old maxim "If you want a truck, buy a truck....if you want a minivan buy a minivan". I hate seeing the lines continually being blurred by this melding of different vehicles. I'm afraid the truck version will be a thing of the past before long.

    Also, can't deny the recall, it happened. I also got a kick out of some of the posts, as a few people sure didn't take it very well. Personally, I think it was great! The net effect to me was I had to drive a brand new 2001 instead of a 2002 for 21 days, got a free extension of my bumper to bumper warranty to 5 years/60000 miles, and free service for two years to top things off. Sorry, but you are not going to get any defensive reaction from me over the recall.
  • rpageaurpageau Posts: 94
    I can't help but think the I5 in development will make it's debut on the 2003 Rendezvous. It would probably still make it tops in its class for power, and be able to at least maintain the same fuel economy. The I6 would make it a great vehicle, but don't you think it might be overkill. The RDV is 400# lighter than the TB/Envoy, and most people buying it will probably never tow anything. 270HP would certainly make it a screamer, but you might lose a segment of the market over the loss of fuel economy (19/26 vs. 16/21).
  • jmfreshourjmfreshour Posts: 57
    Hi all, llloooonngg-time lurker, just recently decided to join in on the posting game. I had to join in after reading the blatantly misleading comments that some have tried to pass off as fact. Proteus, I kindly request that you confirm your facts before posting any further comments about your beloved ML and the hated Explorer/Mountaineer. I refer to your comment that "There is NO manual available in the 2002 Explorer." Actually, the 2002 Explorer XLS comes standard with a 5-speed manual transmission. Any halfway intelligent consumer can obtain this information on the Ford website, as well as right here on Edmunds. Posting misinformation, especially when you draw attention to it using capitals, only makes you look like a moron. I am glad that you think that the ML is superior in every way possible. I, however, have driven both the Explorer and Mountaineer, and think that they are leaps and bounds above the previous model. I have always owned foreign cars in the past, but these new products are changing my mind about domestic automobile production. An interesting note, when test driving the Mountaineer, I noticed that the engine and transmission come from Germany and France, respectively. Is any vehicle truly American anymore? Does that mean that the Mountaineer is like the ML in that the ML's engine/tranny come from Germany but is assembled in Alabama? Hmm.
This discussion has been closed.