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sama from GA:The hooks above each rear passenger door is for the divider that can also be attached in the rear. The rear windows are the ones on either side of the 3rd seat passengers. They are now power operated from the front cockpit controls. When I first read your post I thought you ment the rear hatch window...it does not open. Too bad.
I forgot to get some pictures of the new storage compartment in the center console but as was mentioned it is two level and useful. Although the quality of the tabs to pull it up and open seem to be a little low...they are just plastic and seem difficult to catch.Here is a sneak peek
All of the seat frames are made of the same HSLA (High Strength, Low Ally) steel that is used as the critical load bearing safety structures of the vehicle, and as such, can withstand a very significant forces. In the case of a very severe high speed rear end collision, the rear section of the frame is designed to buckle in the middle, breaking off the underbody spare tire carrier, and directing the force of the impact downwards and away from the occupants.
The 3rd row seats are anchored high up enough on the walls not to be affected. MB planned on the ML having 3 rows of seats during the design phase of the vehicle, so this was taken into account in all of the necessary crash tests. I was surprised when I recently saw a 1996 prototype ML being equipped with the 3rd row in the static A-pillar loading rollover test. I did not realise prior to this, that the seats had been taken into account this far back. Even the taillamp shape had not been developed at this point and the vehicle was fitted with generic taillamps.
In the pictures below, this '99 ML320 was rear ended at a high rate of speed by an 18 wheeler tractor. It was not a straight on collision and actually offset more to the passenger's side. Because of the height of the truck, the damage on the right side C and D-pillars is very evident especially with the tailgate removed. It is also because of the offset nature of the accident that the passenger side rear fender and roof suffered significantly more damage, with the last frame cross member (i.e. the rear bumper) pushed within a couple of inches of the right rear tire. As you can see, as I have described above, the rear end portion of the frame crumpled in an inverted "V" formation, rather than like an accordian. The spare tire carrier broke away to redirect energy.
The vehicle actually still ran and drove in its present condition in the junkyard.
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