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2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class was new.


Performance: 7.8

No matter which engine you choose, test drivers say the 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class offers plenty of power. Many reviewers prefer the turbodiesel-powered ML350 BlueTEC for its fuel efficiency and rapid acceleration. Most auto writers say that given its size, the M-Class handles well, with accurate steering and strong brakes. However, some critics say that it’s not exactly athletic, and is more geared toward comfort than sport.

  • "On winding roads, however, the non-AMG M-Class models feel soft and out of sorts around turns, and the steering is both devoid of feel and rather slow to respond. Translation: This is not a sporty SUV." -- Edmunds
  • "The ML350 and ML350 BlueTEC are sublime in their own right. The conventional ML350 displays strong, uniform power delivery throughout the rev band, while the BlueTEC launches like a rocket from zero and then fizzles a bit at the top end.” -- AutoTrader
  • "All M-Class models ride very comfortably and are reassuringly composed. The ML63 rides a bit firmer than its siblings but remains compliant." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Judges loved the smooth ride and quiet, composed cruising of both the diesel and gas versions of the midsize SUV. The AMG-tuned version has many of the same qualities, with the performance muscle of a sports sedan." -- Motor Trend (2013 ML63 AMG)

Acceleration and Power

The base ML350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 302 horsepower, while the ML550 comes with a 402-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 engine. The ML350 BlueTEC has a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6 that makes 240 horsepower. The top-of-the-line ML63 AMG comes with a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 engine that makes 518 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The AMG model is also available with a performance package that increases its horsepower to 550. All models have a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The two-wheel drive, gas-powered ML350 gets an EPA-estimated 18/24 mpg city/highway, which is very good for the class. The ML350 BlueTEC gets 20/28 mpg city/highway, which is great for the class and comparable with the fuel economy of what diesel-powered rivals like the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg get.

Reviewers say that all M-Class models offer ample power. They especially like the ML350 BlueTEC, saying it accelerates briskly and gets great fuel economy. Equipped with V8 engines, the ML550 and ML63 AMG are lightning fast, they add.

  • "The ML350 and ML350 BlueTEC both offer ample power and, especially in the case of the diesel-powered BlueTEC, commendable efficiency. But for an even greater infusion of performance, the V8-powered ML550 and the supercharged ML63 AMG offer serious grunt in a formidable SUV package.” -- AutoTrader
  • "The 2014 M-Class's standard gasoline V6 engine gets fairly frisky if you're willing to take it to redline, but acceleration can feel a little pokey in normal driving conditions. That's why the ML350 Bluetec diesel version is a win-win proposition: It delivers more usable thrust in everyday passing and merging maneuvers along with superior fuel economy. As for the V8-powered models, the ML550 is sports-car quick, and the ML63 is just nuts. If straight-line speed turns you on, has Benz ever got an SUV for you." -- Edmunds
  • "Even the ‘slowest’ M-Class can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just over seven seconds, while the AMG version can do it in 4.7 seconds, on par with high-performance sports cars." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "ML350 4MATIC has plenty of smooth power around town and on the highway. BlueTEC models are notably stronger from a standstill, and offer a healthy reserve of passing muscle as well. We did note inconsistent throttle response in one BlueTEC test vehicle though." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Most test drivers report that the 2014 M-Class handles well overall, with responsive steering and very strong brakes. However, some reviewers say that drivers looking for razor-sharp handling and thrills behind the wheel should look elsewhere. The ride is composed and generally smooth, they add.

  • "The M-Class has impressive handling, especially for a taller vehicle. Steering is well-weighted, and there's very little body roll. Overall, the M-Class feels well-planted and substantial.” -- AutoTrader
  • "From the driver seat, the feel of the brakes inspires confidence, and that's corroborated by our own testing: The M-Class is one of the shortest-stopping SUVs we've ever tested." -- Edmunds
  • "Steering feels a tad light at lower speeds and isn't very communicative overall." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ML350 is not as sporty as a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne, but the Mercedes is arguably smoother and more pleasant to drive in everyday situations. In normal corning body lean isn't excessive, and with its accurate, well-weighted steering ML350's handling is confident." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

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