The community thinks...
"Safest SUV on the Planet" by Realtor from North Carolina on 09/08/2007. Trim: 2004 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML350, Owned 2 years.
Pros: It is the safest SUV on the planet, including a virtually indestructible roll cage. We love the very effective AWD system as we use it on rough, mountainous terrain in our real estate work. In Low Range it will crawl up and down virtually anything with just the factory tires. The Parktronic system saves me a lot in tight spots and is very accurate. It accelerates well and has a very small turning radius which is good in town and in tight spots. The AWD system doesn't require any shifting of levers or buttons to engage the system...it does it all itself except for LOW range. Oil and brake warning lights are convenient to avoid ruining motor or brakes. Oil changes only every 10000 mi.
Cons: The seats cushioning material isn't comfortable...it seems to flatten out easily and feels hard. The A/C vents for the back seats blow very little air. The trim pieces to the left and right of the rear glass lost their clearcoat and look awful now (replacing them soon). Drinks in Front cupholders block flow of A/C. Sunroof controls need to be "one-touch", except for the last 8 inches on closing. Unique tire size results in expensive replacement costs. Rear hatch is a little hard to pull down for my 5' 2" wife.
Overall review: The fine points are all that need work on this vehicle. I buy vehicles first and foremost to survive a hard crash...everything else is secondary, including fuel mileage. This vehicle gets reasonable mileage when driven moderately. I get 23 mpg regularly on the highway at 65 mph. If you don't survive a crash then reliability and fuel economy don't matter. We replaced the water pump and brake pads/rotors at 85000 miles and that's about it. Our next SUV will be another ML mainly due to it's ability to protect me and my family way beyond the "5 star" crash rating.
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