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



  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Thanks for the info Bill, and the picture, Louis.

    Autoweek's text seems like it is describing the next generation M-class, for MY2005. AFAIK, the next generation 4-matic system will not be available till 2002, and it will first make its debut on the European-spec C-class. The Airmatic based suspension is also said to be in the works for the next generaton ML.

    WRT projector headlamps, those look like the regular headlamps that we have right now, but with covers on them. The LED turn signals are certain a possibility though, especially since just about all of the other MB vehicles have it now. I'm not sure if it would be worth it to retrofit though, as Chris said. It will be mostly for looks too, since our current fender mounted turn signals do basically the same function.

    Frank, any thoughts?

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  • yickwoyickwo Posts: 54
    I compared MDX, RX300, Sequoia and ML320, and I liked the Sequoia the best. However I cannot find a decent deal on the Sequoia and do not really need that much room. On the other hand, I really didn't care much for the MDX. I just cannot see why so many people think that it is the next best thing since the sliced bread. The MDX looked cheap (faux wood) and had way too much road noise. It is a fine SUV over all, but I really don't thing it is really worth the MSRP. If it were $1500 or $2K less, the scale may tilt. The RX300 was okay, but I was not really impressed with it (it felt like a jacked up camary stationwagon). Originally I was not very serious about the ML (I didn't want to spend too much on a SUV), but after looking into it more, I found that the price is very reasonalbe right now and that the ride and the quality is not too far behind my E320 (actually I think the ride is better than the E320). I am very happy with my decision. For roughly the same price as a fully loaded MDX, much less than a Sequoia Limited, the ML320 is a great value. Also, the the extra benefit of driving a Mercedes and knowing that you are in one of the safest SUV's around is just icing on the cake.
  • All,

    If MB does decide to include volume/MCS controls on the next generation MLs steering wheel, does anyone know or think that this feature will be retrofittable to the 01 MLs? Frankly, this is the only shortcoming to my 430.

    TIA for any insights. Regards, Bill
  • I have a feeling the 2002 ML will share interior components with the 2001 C-Class. Just look at the G-Class, which was revised for this year in Europe. The gauges, climate control, headlight switch, center consol switches, etc. are from the C. Maybe the 2002 ML will gets its auto climate control in the same way. Just theorizing, but far fetched?


  • bob259bob259 Posts: 280
    Sorry Drew... I thought as long as I posted where it was from and used "quote" marks it was OK to post.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    No problem, just as long as you're aware of it now :-) Many T.H participants make that mistake anyway, so you're not the only one.

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  • Thanks ever so much for the advice and taking the time to post. I should be purchasing in Atlanta and I will definitely tell Tony at Carriage House that you think very highly of him.

    Also I am grateful to Kenyee for the marvelous suggestion. I would have never thought of asking for recommendations of particular service experiences.

    In light of this knowledge, I would like to ask if anyone lives near or in Newport Beach / Corona Del Mar, California. We will be moving there sometime in the near future.
  • I was looking into getting a pair of H3 bulbs for my ML and found what appears to be a pretty good pair. They're Xenon bulbs that put out a white/hint of blue light. It's not a HID setup, but it's not $600-$2000 either. My friend bought a pair for his ML and they look pretty good. My I've found cheaper bulbs (by only a few dollars), but these contain a higher percentage of xenon gas than the others so I think it's worth the extra money.

    Looks like I can get a pair for around $25-$30 + shipping. If anyone's interested in getting in on the order, drop me an email at and I'll see what we can get.
  • photo3photo3 Posts: 26
    I am also trying to decide between the ML 320 and the MDX. I am not too particular..I just want a SUV that will tow a tent trailer (2400 lbs.) be safe, have a third row of seats, go off paved road (dirt, ungraded, bumps, ruts, holes,mud but not over untrampled terrain, through low creeks, etc.) I do not want too big of a vehicle, ok gas mileage, functional suv. I also like a sunroof. I had also been looking at the full-size Montero but am afraid of the reliability (so many mechanics will not work on them) I would like to decide soon.
    Any feedback?
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    You may want to read Jerry's MDX vs. ML vs. RX post here:
    yickwo Feb 24, 2001 11:06pm

    How often do you plan to tow that trailer and over what sort of distances. Would it be over those "off-road" sections? If you do plan to tow frequently and over fairly long distances, I think you may be better off with a body-on-frame vehicle such as the ML since towing puts quite a lot of stress on a unibody design. Over time, that could prematurely loosen/wear out things with a unibody structure. Does your trailer have brakes?

    Since you mentioned that those off-road sections have bumps/ruts, mud and creeks, you may be better off with the ML, since the MDX is not mean for driving on those sort of surfaces where its softish suspension can bottom out easily and make all sorts of noises. Car & Driver TV stressed this and they showed footage of an MDX driving though the kinds of trails that you were describing above. There was on particular spot where the MDX bottomed out and ran into its bumps stops very hard. Ouch! You should be aware that a section of the MDX's exhaust pipe also runs under the rear axle, where it could be vulnerable to damage in those situations. BTW, the ML320 can't really climb over boulders either :-)

    Good luck with your decision!
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    I doubt those steering wheel controls can be retrofitted as there will be specific wiring running through the steering column. Even if it could, it will probably be costly as it will require a new steering wheel, and possibly a new airbag (depending on where the buttons are placed).
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Very interesting theory. I did not realise that MB had switched to the C-class switchgear for the Gelandewagen. I suppose it would be possible, although I hope that not everything will be switched over. The auto climate controls is proabably a good bet though. MB is moving to that sort of design even with the upcoming '03 E-class.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    One of our CA residents may be able to answer your question for a good dealership/service department in Newport Beach / Corona Del Mar.

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  • biker5biker5 Posts: 199
    First of all I would like to welcome you to sunny California, not today anyway....because we been having a lot a rain lately. You did mention three places in CA. which is a little bit far apart., But I can give you some dealerships in those three places you've mention. If you are going to Newport Beach,there is Fletcher Jones Mercedes Benz in Newport Beach and in about 10-15 miles south there is Mercedes-Benz of Laguna Niguel where I got mine. If you move to Del Mar there is Hoenh Mercedez,at Carlsbad, Mercedes Benz of Escondido northeast of Del Mar and in going south there is Mercedes Benz of San Diego,which is the dealer I use to service my ML. I never try the dealer where I bought my ML because it is to far where I live. I bought mine thru internet.. about 80 miles north where I live. Let me know when are you coming and the exact place you are moving in to. If its close to my place I'll try to give you a tour.
  • Kingcreek,
    I've found a few dealerships to be quite adequate (including Fletcher Jones and House of Imports in Buena Park), but the most satisfying service experience I have recieved happens to be from the dealer where I purchased my ML. Caliber Motors of Anaheim Hills has one HUGE plus which is the use of MB loaner cars (right now 01 E320s and ML320s). They also seem to care a bit more about my servicing needs especially when it came to the interior issues I was experiencing. Thankfully it has all been taken care of without hassle.

    It isn't very close to Newport Beach, but if you have a problem that other dealers didn't want to bother with definately try Caliber. For all other problems Fletcher should take care of you just fine.

  • I am looking to purchase 2001 ML320. with M1, sunroof, heated seats, single CD, metallic paint, in Northern NJ. Negotiating with 2 dealers right now. What prices are you getting including destination fees? Prices vary alot between dealers with 1 offering M2 and Bose for $280 more. TIA
  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    Also keep in mind that the ML has a low reduction gear box, I dont know if the MDX has it or not, but a definite plus if you are planing to tow and going off road.
  • photo3photo3 Posts: 26
    Thanks for the input! Yes, my tent trailer does have electric breaks...very necessary. I also think the ML sounds good..except for the price..the MDX seems a little more reasonable. I had wanted a Montero but have heard about some reliability problems after the first few years. How about reliability on the ML after the first 50,000? How does it hold up?
  • drwagdrwag Posts: 8
    Has anyone bad experiences with a ML 55 MAG ?
  • Thanks for posting Biker and Chris. Newport Beach is going to be a big change from Atlanta and it is certainly nice to have some advisors.

    I have another question for the board. I have been reading your posts for quite a while and have not seen much mention of the Mercedes navigation system. I have one in my current car and have found it to be of immense help. I did read in the past that the ML nav was cd driven instead of dvd and therefore limited to regional exploration. To use this nav system in another area would require a cd change. Is this still true? Did anyone order this option?
  • Hi - saw this posted last night, I think... $500 below invoice seems like a great deal. Can you post the specifics, yickwo? Especially dealer, location, etc. Are there incentives out there or rebates on the ML320? I haven't seen any.
  • I bought my 00ML320 at MB of Laguna Niguel, but use Hoehn in Carlsbad for service, only because they are closer. MBLN was willing to deal on price, and Hoehn wasn't, hence my purchase there. In fact, I got mine (when factoring in generous trade-in allowance) for about $1,800 below sticker.

    Hoehn is very good for service, and usually I get MB loaners (sometimes Hondas).
  • I have used Atlanta Classic in Decatur up until recently for service. They have been mediocre at best though I have seen some improvements lately. Atlanta Classic did some serious flip flop on their oil change policy whithin days ofthe announcement that Y2K cars would enjoy free service. Prior to that announcement they had continued to send out letters every 5000 miles suggestng a $60 oil change despite the flexible service system(I have a 99M so no free service for me). They also did not perform the minor recall work on the car until I specifically requested the work to be done. The average time to schedule an appointment seems to be around 2-3 weeks though they will see you immediately for major problems (just like the doctor). Their loaner policy is so-so. They provide a loaner if you purchased the car from them. Thye keep a few Honda Civics as a loaner fleet but also have Enterprise leasing on site to provide loaner cars. Once we had a GMC van!!!(not minivan). Once I refused the car because it was not a 4 door (I have small children) and I was SOL - so I took the hatchback.

    The waiting room is dull and there is no free food. The magazine selection is limited to leave behinds of previous customers and a few car mags. There is no kids play area or work space.

    The service advisors change fairly frequently so building a relationship has been tough - with all that in mind when we ordered our soon to be delivered 4matic wagon we shopped around between RBM, Atlanta Classic and Carriage House. Like Maristella I found Carriage House to be the most flexible and eager. They gave us the best price on the wagon and they have agreed to service our M and the wagon and also my sisters new C class (which she purchased at Atlanta Classic) and provide us all with loaners.
  • maabmaab Posts: 41
    As stated in the Autoweek article, what are the diamond style something-something rear lights? Are they simlar to RX300/IS300 rear lights? With the combination of those brake lights and projector headlights give me the image of ML morphing into RX. Please say it ain't so!
  • planomlplanoml Posts: 244
    I checked out the Nav system, and it seems to be driven off a CD that sits behind the display system. It's the same slot for the regular CDs. I think one CD would be enough to cover all of North America.

    I took a different approach. I bought a Garmin GPS, Microsoft Streets CD(North America), and hooked it to my Fujitsu laptop. I didn't have to purchase two systems for both cars, and I can take the GPS unit off when I go out of the cars into the wild. Hope this helps.
  • Nothing bad to report about my ML55, very pleased with every aspect of this vehicle. It has met, or exceeded, every expectation. And my expectations were quite high for $65K. I've had one service issue, the GPS system was DOA, well it worked sporatically at best, from the factory, this was caused by an improper crimp in the cable from the antennae splitter to the GPS head. The cable was replaced, & all else has been perfect.
  • When I originally asked the service question, I thought most dealerships were probably great, but there may be one that stood out. I can't begin to tell you how surprised I am by the responses I have received. Currently I have a Lexus and as I'm sure you know, my experience has been totally different. I have had work done at three different dealerships and each has been consistently wonderful. Food, varied drinks, digital television and a play area for children has been standard. I've even had someone from service come in and ask me if I needed anything. I've never had any trouble getting in right away to correct any problem.

    So, what in the world causes such a disparity? Does Mercedes sell a much greater volume of cars than Lexus and therefore tends to be under more pressure in the service department? Would this not be something Mercedes considers important? Is the company doing anything to improve the level of service in their dealerships?

    Thanks for letting me know about Atlanta Classic. I actually was over there a few weeks ago looking at cars. I will definitely purchase from Carriage House or just wait until we go to Newport Beach.

    I really appreciate all of the help this board has given me. You have each gone out of your way to help me answer these questions. Even if the service is a little lacking, the quality of the line is certainly represented well by its owners.
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738

    Unfortunately, it's always been this way. On the M-Class Mailing List, we usually have a gripe session once a year on how MB dealers usually give out Enterprise loaner cars. Lexus gives freebie loaner cars to dealerships. MB just gives a fixed payment per service day per customer to the dealer. Some MB dealers will go the extra mile and give out MB loaners, but it's a rarity more than common practice. Why MB doesn't do what Lexus does is puzzling to me...especially after all these years.

    To top this off, the ML was a lot more popular than they expected and the initial release had lots of little problems. As a result, most service departments got overloaded (they were never used to such a large #customers), service appts got pushed out, customers got ticked off, etc. They provided the perfect example of why it costs orders of magnitude more to fix a problem once it gets in the field. Luckily, they seem to have learned w/ the new C; it's very popular, but has very few problems (trunk latch, TeleAid unlock).

  • People if you wish to email me please feel free to at my NEW Address.

    The other one was getting too much spam, so I had to shut it down. I think is some idiot from school that is subscribing me or something.

    This address is specific to MB

  • dt77dt77 Posts: 232
    Can someone tell me about the hitch the ML comes with or ..maybe doesn't come with ?

    how does once remove the cover and what will i see when i do ? =)

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