By on April 22, 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE350, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 RWD

3.5-liter V6, direct injection (302 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 273 lbs-ft torque @ 3,500 to 5,250 rpm, premium fuel)

Seven-speed automatic

18 city/24 highway/20 combined (EPA rating, MPG)

20.9 over 5,500 miles, 75% highway (Observed, MPG)

Base Price (GLE350): $52,025

Price as Tested: $56,875

Prices include $925 destination/delivery fee.

Those of you who railed against Bark’s glowing review of the 2016 Ford Mustang convertible by claiming his “Ford bias” tainted his viewpoint might also think my yarn about this vehicle is spun in a similar vein. After all, I worked for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services for 17 years, and here I am reviewing my own Mercedes-Benz-subsidized retiree lease vehicle. How could I possibly be objective, you ask?

Before we find out, bear in mind that I’ve driven a total of over 60,000 miles in ten separate copies of the last generation ML350 and its variants, so I know this SUV’s predecessor inside and out.

Most changes made to the GLE are positive, but there are a couple glaring exceptions.

For 2016, Mercedes-Benz refreshed the venerable ML350 SUV and changed its name to the GLE350, thus abandoning 17 years of strong model name recognition. The Alabama-built midsize sport-ute joins all other Benz SUVs in having a name that starts with the letter “G.” The GLE/ML will no longer be the best-selling Benz SUV this year, as the hot, new GLC and its gorgeous, over-the-top interior will take that crown. The more efficient GLC is the future of Mercedes SUVs, but there is still a lot of life left in the old, grey ghost GLE.

Most GLEs sold in America have the same engine as our example — a smooth, 302 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 with direct injection. Mercedes also offers a turbo V6, a 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel, a plug-in hybrid and two high-horse V8 AMG variants. The days of V8s in mainstream GLEs, as well those with the torquey six-cylinder BlueTec diesel, are long gone. The GLE is also available as a coupé/hatchback/eyesore model designed to compete with the BMW X6.

Our rear-wheel-drive tester came with the premium package, which includes Mercedes’ new Comand infotainment system, navigation, voice control, rearview camera, satellite radio and keyless entry. It also features the Lane Tracking Package with blind spot assist and lane keeping assist. The GLE comes standard with every advanced safety geegaw known to man, including the capitalized-from-the-factory COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS WITH ATTENTION ASSIST.

The new GLE is upgraded with a new grille, headlamps and LED taillights. The changes are so subtle that you will need to park a GLE next to an ML to notice the difference.

Infotainment

Let’s talk about the eight-inch elephant in the room. Around a zillion internet commenters have criticized the look and placement of the new Comand screen, which stands vertically apart from the dashboard. It may look funky in pictures, but it’s a huge leap forward. The screen is now closer to eye level and Benz has enhanced its high-resolution graphics to boot. From a driver’s point of view, it’s far superior to its predecessor in the ML.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 COMAND infotainment screen, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

That being said, there is a reason the Comand system operator’s manual is 203 pages: MB has added a ton of functionality with the introduction of the GLE. I say they added redundancy and complexity. (One nice touch is that highlights of this manual, and the 453 page regular manual, can now be viewed within the Comand system.)

Mercedes has added a touchpad on top of the familiar rotary dial for 2016. It performs the same functions as the dial, but you can now control media and navigation with a swipe of the finger instead of pulling or twisting the dial. You can control functions four different ways: using the buttons on the dash, voice control, rotary dial or the touchpad. Trying to mix and match which ones to use can create some confusion. If this were my first Mercedes-Benz vehicle, I would be totally flummoxed.

The touchpad features a handwriting recognition app for functions such as pulling up phone contacts. Just draw the letters with your finger and the system does a search. My scribbles often came out on the screen looking like those made by a drunk John Madden while outlining Packer plays on a telestrator. I disabled that feature after a few days.

My biggest gripe about the Comand system is that you can no longer store favorite destinations in their own place, and you’re now forced to merge them with your phone address book. This issue is actually mute thanks to the GLE being one of the first Mercedes models to have the amazing Apple CarPlay as standard equipment. Just plug-in your Apple device and you have most of the Mercedes navigation functionality in Apple Maps, albeit without the nice graphics. I now know why my searches of dealer inventories yielded cars loaded to the gills sans navigation: if you have an iPhone, you no longer need it.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 Interior, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

I’m probably the only person who cares that Mercedes dropped the altimeter feature in the Comand module in the GLE. When you live in a mountain state, an altimeter is more than just a fun toy. Yes, I know, there’s an app for that.

In keeping with the Mercedes-Benz heritage of crappy Becker and Blaupunkt radios, the base sound system in our GLE is not worthy of a luxury vehicle. You’d be better off opting for the $850 Harmon/Kardon LOGIC7 stereo or the $5,800 Bang and Olufsen BeoSound banger, the latter of which is not available to people who live near major earthquake faults.

Driving

Start the engine, drop the slick column-mounted shifter into Drive or Reverse, hit the gas it and … wait a second for the new-for-2016 automatic Electronic Parking Brake to release, causing you to lurch ahead. The system automatically engages when you shift the transmission to Park. If you open the driver’s door while maneuvering, as I did recently in a dark, cramped parking lot, the system also engages and screeches the GLE to a halt. I am trying to get in the habit of releasing the brake before I set off.

Jack Baruth mentioned the same brake in the comments on his CLA250 rental test, calling it “bewildering,” and I tend to agree.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 Rear View, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

Power from the V6 is more than adequate and the GLE is clearly quicker than its claimed 7.5 second 0 to 60 mph time. The seven-speed automatic transmissions shifts seamlessly. Mercedes has upgraded the Dynamic Select handling control system for the GLE, with a choice of “Comfort,” “Sport” and “Slippery” modes. The steering tightens up noticeably now when selecting “Sport,” but there is still some on-center play. Handling is good for a 4,900-pound sport-ute, but Mercedes-Benz knows their customers value ride and comfort over cornering ability. I’ve driven the GLE’s German competition and two things are obvious: they are more entertaining in the twisties, but are nowhere near as tight and well-screwed together as the Mercedes.

The GLE also passed the “Tucson Test” by smoothly bouncing through the worst potholes found in any city in the West.

The GLE retains my favorite trait of the ML: its extremely quiet cabin. Combined with its composed chassis and comfortable seats, the GLE is a sensational highway cruiser, nearly on par with the S-Class sedan. A recent 2,200 mile round trip sprint from our Tucson home to the Fort Worth NASCAR race and then to South Texas to see the bluebonnets in bloom was a breeze. Rolling across desolate and windy West Texas at 90 mph, the GLE tracked like a freight train. The same trip in previous years in a GLK and a GTI left my wife and me tired and cranky.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 Side View, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

If you desire a luxury SUV to transport five people in safety and comfort, the GLE is a good choice. I had exactly zero warranty issues, nor any squeaks or rattles, in all my ML350 company cars, though I never drove any of them beyond 10,000 miles. Your mileage may vary.

Mercedes-Benz has a corporate mission of delighting customers by exceeding expectations. I’ll leave you with one such example, a feature not mentioned in any marketing material or the Mercedes-Benz website. Unlock the GLE at night and projector lights under each outside mirror broadcast a foot-high image of the 1920s Mercedes-Benz logo onto the ground. Some may snicker that this is akin to drivers who sport the license plate, “My Benz” or some such “I own a Mercedes” message. As an old Benz guy, I cannot be objective: I love that feature.

Disclosure: This GLE350 is the author’s current Mercedes-Benz retiree lease vehicle, which is subsidized by Mercedes-Benz USA.

[Images: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars]

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76 Comments on “2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 Review – The Artist Formerly Known As ML...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Column mounted shifter?

    Be still the B&B’s beating heart!

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      The one feature I miss from my wife’s former vehicle, a 2008 Mercedes ML550. She now drives a Jeep Grand Cherokee. There were many things about the ML I did not like, but that little column shifter was brilliant.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      GLK (now GLC) has that, too.

      At least it did last year when I tried one.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      It’s more like a joystick than a real mechanical shifter. I found it disappointing to use. It gives no mechanical satisfaction.

    • 0 avatar

      Almost all Mercedes have been shifted to the new column shifter design. I have a 2011 CLS550 with the old style shifter, and when it’s been in for warranty repairs, I’ve gotten loaner cars with the new system. One time they got me a brand new C300 and I was so confused by how the column shifter worked that I almost let the car run away with me. This is obviously the reason for the new interlock system everyone’s griping about. Once I got used to it, it worked fine, but I still missed the feel of the old setup.

      You can imagine my shock when I noticed that even the driver-oriented Mercedes like the CLS all had the column shifter setup. I think I had to go all the way to the gullwing AMG model to find something that looked a little like the old style shifter, and even it looked suspiciously electronic.

      I guess I’ll wind up getting used to it in my next car, and I will look forward to a much better COMND system. Unless, that is, I get a Tesla. We’ll see …

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I really don’t like horizontal creases that stray too close to the wheel arch creases. Wheel arches should be left alone without being disturbed. The first-gen CLS had the same design problem at the front.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    “though I never drove any of them beyond 10,000 miles. Your mileage may vary.”

    That’s a pretty huge asterisk right there lol

    To be fair, I know of a Russian Baptist in PA with an old 1st gen ML430 that’s rolled up 183k with only a smattering of electrical issues, nothing serious drivetrain-wise.

    If I was in this market segment, I’d have a hard time not buying a pre-Predator face GX460, or else bite the low-MPG bullet and get a lightly used CPO ’13-’14 Land Cruiser 200.

  • avatar
    JReed

    *Moot?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    can we dispense with the expectation that product reviewers be “unbiased” or “objective?” No human being can be unbiased, and if a reviewer attempts to be such then that IMO leads to a less useful review; it generally encourages the reviewer to *try* to say bad things about the product in order to appear “balanced.” To me, a product reviewer should:

    1) state biases up front
    2) review the product as such: “This is what it does well, this is what it doesn’t do well, and this is how I think they measure up to each other.”
    3) that’s it.

    So IMO both this article and Bark’s Mustang review succeed.

    • 0 avatar
      Pantherlove

      Agreed. We are all grown up enough to understand that people aren’t robots. I am not going to go buy something because Bark told me to. I might look at something I might not have considered otherwise but it is still going to be my decision to buy or not.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Back before the days of dozens of television networks and the Internet, people were realistic enough to know that human beings had their own opinions, and that every message was stated from the owner’s point of view. There was a certain expectation in one’s education and maturity to be able to discern this, understand that not everyone thinks as we do, and to do one’s own research and critical thinking.

      Today, it’s seems to be easier – and more common – to simply post or scream, “Bias! Bias! Bu!!$hit! Bu!!$hit!”

      We all have biases and opinions, and they’re different than yours. Kindly get over it, please.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Plus once a certain age is reached you won’t listen to nobody about nothin’ anyway. By then you’ve experienced enough examples of human psychology to trust none of them without verifying.

        Ironic that it’s youth who are supposed to live the anti-authority stereotype. They’re the most easily bamboozled of all and every society has millions of experts in doing just that.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Just from the picture here that dash does not look like a 56k car/MB should look. I know plenty of folks who had the MB ML and they were pretty happy w them but there is a lot more to choose from now.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d personally go for a GX460, but for the people that live in the sun-states this seems like a pretty good option for those looking to own something longer than 36 months. Especially in a world where a 4×2 JGC Overland V6 is $48K and a Tahoe LTZ RWD is $60K.

    Also: HOLY SH*T! a naturally-aspirated engine in a German car!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The M/GLE-Class isn’t as ceremonious as the X5—and I don’t think it ever was—but it’s probably more reliable. I never hear anyone complain about these or the E-Class. And if you don’t need AWD, $56K as tested is quite a bargain. I’d have to spend another $10K to get an X5 the way I wanted it. You could probably get an excellent lease deal on it, too.

    The new corporate three-spoke wheel is a lot better than the four-spoke that was in the M-Class and GL-Class up to now.

    There is some weird speculation as to why the car, which was actually known as the M-Class, was badged as an “ML”. Some people have said it’s because of an agreement with BMW not to use M by itself with any numbers (but then what of Infiniti’s M?) Can you speak on that?

    On a side note: I love how the TV show “Modern Family” just quietly replaced Gloria’s M-Class with a GLE-Class.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      And along those lines, I’m surprised Mazda hasn’t barked about the use of “GLC.” Sorry, but I can’t see anything other than my sister’s old 1981 Mazda GLC (which, by the way, WAS a great little car!) when I see those letters!

      As to the move to “G” I can only speculate that it ties all SUV/CUV under the “Gelaende” terminology to capitalize on that (though I wonder exactly how many Americans even know what the “G” in G-wagon means).

      Either way, all beyond my pay grade!

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        True. Now that I think of it, there was a Mazda GLC way back when. It’s possible Mazda’s trademark on that name has expired and not been renewed.

        Then again, Lincoln is planning to sell a car with the exact same Continental name as a certain Bentley. Both companies have used the name for decades, although Lincoln had it first. And technically, the Bentley is called the “Continental GT” (the Continental Flying Spur was renamed to “Flying Spur” for MY2014), but still…

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      The M-Class has historically had some transmission issues, in the before times.

      Friend of mine has one and the weird sunroof panoramic thing has been testy (but this is a 90s car, so not relevant to modern purchasing).

      The ML really did seem pretty solid, much like the E-Class was apart from the w210 fiasco (which can’t have been too deadly, given how many 210s I see on the road *constantly).

      (On “ML”, I originally assumed it was meaningful and meant “Long Wheelbase M-Class”, with the idea that somewhere in Europe there was one a foot shorter.

      Wikipedia claims what you repeat, though gives no sources, but does note the issue is allegedly “M and then three digits”; the Infiniti cars only had two, thus being harder to mistake with a three-digit BMW model?)

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Technically, there is M35/37x and M45/56x, so it is three characters after the letter.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        I have a 2008 ML350 , I bought it with 62k miles. It’s been trouble free except a cracked rear spring note on inspection by my local indy.I did a lot of research th 7sp auto needs religious tranny fluid changes every 40-50k. Carfax noted a good dealer serv record on mine.
        To the poster comparing the level of noise suppression JGC vs this ML350. I’ve been in both- thy’re not the equivalent .I routinely peruse Car and Drivers Dba measurement, and this car scored highly(lowly actually).
        I recently had to change the battery in mine, it’s under the passenger rear seat , this car has over an inch of materials from surface of carpet to floorboard-pretty impressive stuff.

        It’s weight puts a lot of wear on its tires, I’ll be happy to get 40k out of my ku

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          A friend has an 01 ML which has needed some work he performed himself as a shadetree mechanic. He was very impressed with the materials and the type of assembly on parts of it. You couldn’t give me one, but at least Daimler still builds something relatively well (or at least, did).

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Every time I state that the 2014+ Durango is the most comfortable cruiser $ for $ that one can find anywhere, with a level of ride smoothness, interior quietness, robust structural rigidity, and the ability to smother road imperfections and cruise effortlessly at high speeds all day & night, rivaling if not besting vehicles costing 2x as much, I catch $hit.

    With the 2nd row captain chairs, it’s a road-going Boeing 747 Wide Body.

    Here, Steve goes so far as to compare this Durango in MB guise as good a cruiser as an S Class.

    So?…

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      You catch s*ht for claiming 30+ mpg in a SUV-tall 5000lb+ AWD vehicle being driven at over 75mph.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        you can often handily beat the highway mpg number on the sticker if you drive at a steady cruise.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “you can often handily beat the highway mpg number on the sticker if you drive at a steady cruise.”

          Sure, but not over an appreciable distance (ie a whole tank or several hundred miles), and not to Norm-in-Area-51 levels either.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “you can often handily beat the highway mpg number on the sticker if you drive at a steady cruise.”

          Maybe some people can, but we weren’t.

          We have 85K+ miles experience with a 2012 Grand Cherokee V6 and cruising long distances at 85mph-steady on the Interstates, we were never able to come close to sticker, usually just squeezing out 12-14mpg, depending on headwinds and terrain.

          This is cruising, foot off the gas pedal, at steady speed.

          On US54, mileage was usually a bit lower because of the heat, sidewind and gradual climb.

          Real world numbers have never come close to window-sticker in my experience because of the way the EPA tests are structured.

          I say, take them with a bag of salt.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I don’t believe you. sorry.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            That’s OK. I stated my own experiences in the real world.

            I called my best friend to see if he ever got close to the figure (16mpg Hwy) on the window sticker on his 2012 Grand Cherokee V6, and he said, “Nope.” And his wife drives like an old lady, never exceeding the speed limit.

            So how credible is your blanket statement, “you can often handily beat the highway mpg number on the sticker if you drive at a steady cruise.”?

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            85 MPH is why you were not able to get anywhere near “the sticker”.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “the figure (16mpg Hwy) on the window sticker ”

            That sounds like the city mileage, I think the V6s were 23 mpg or so, even with the old 5spd auto and 4wd.

          • 0 avatar
            Steve Lynch

            This GLE would have hit its 24 mpg highway rating if I had stuck to the speed limit.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            “Real world numbers have never come close to window-sticker in my experience because of the way the EPA tests are structured.”

            In some cases, definitely; I suspect it has a lot to do with drag numbers, since IIRC the EPA tests are actually done on a static bench?

            (I’d like to point out that my XC70 somehow *beats* EPA numbers easily on highway cruises (pulling down 25-26mph rather than the reported 24; it’ll do 28 forever if it never has to turn), and at least meeting, if not slightly exceeding them in town (no less than the reported 16, probably more like 17).)

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2012_Jeep_Grand_Cherokee.shtml

            EPA says 17 highway for the 4WD … with E85.

            Perhaps the recollection in question?

            It’s definitely supposed to get 23 highway in either configuration, using gasoline, though I suppose you might lose 1 or 2 mpg to altitude?

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            “Real world numbers have never come close to window-sticker in my experience because of the way the EPA tests are structured.”

            Depends on the car. I’ve routinely beaten the highway mileage rating on my C7 when being driven at a steady state at 75 MPH or so…

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      you’ll catch $h!t any time you say something which goes against “conventional wisdom,” which is heavy on the “convention” and very light on the “wise.” Too many people think the truth is what “everyone knows,” and get really angry if you say something which contradicts what “everyone knows.” I get ripped to shreds any time I state that it’s not “diesel” which gets you torque, but “turbocharging.” Yet the only thing the people can scream at me is that “everyone knows diesels have more torque.”

      They don’t know anything about it other than the “fact” that “everyone knows it’s true.” And they’re so desperate to believe they were right all along they double down and get vicious.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Among other things, the Durango is really an ML/GLE-Class in disguise by your standard; it’s a Mercedes-Benz platform…not a Chrysler one. Moreover, the Durango’s length makes it closer to the GL/GLS-Class, which is on a stretched version of this same platform. The Grand Cherokee, then, would be the GLE-Class counterpart.

      Second, although I agree that the Durango is a comfortable cruiser—-with the benefit of RWD in a segment that mostly lacks it—the suspension setup, insulation materials and seat comfort between the Durango and its Mercedes-Benz are probably different. So a favorable review for the GLE-Class doesn’t exactly credit the Durango. A shared platform doesn’t go *all* that far.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        WK2 and W166 was a joint development program. Jeep took the lead in development as the requirements for the Grand Cherokee was greater than what Mercedes needed for the ML (torsional stiffness and off road ability).

        So no, it’s not a Mercedes platform as much as people like to believe it is or claim to “know” on the internet.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Sure enough, what you’re claiming seems to be right.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          It’s most fair to say it was a co-developed platform, with the Chrysler nameplates hitting the market first. The whole “based on a Mercedes platform” seemed to have grown out of the idea that saying such would confer some sort of prestige.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            The “based on a Mercedes” thing came directly from when the LX cars launched. The LX’s were not “Mercedes platforms” either as the development of the LX was in full swing before the merger of “equals”.

            The only car that I ever knew which was an old Mercedes was the Crossfire.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            True. I never thought the LX cars were Mercedes-Benz based. They did use some Mercedes-Benz components, but they also utilized some of the original LH platform.

        • 0 avatar
          linard76

          I sort of have to wonder the accuracy of who really lead the development.

          For me, the idea that Jeep “lead” the development doesn’t seem to pan out as the W166 is an evolution of the W164 platform with similar hard points and design features. In particular, stating that Benz didn’t require Jeep’s torsional rigidity and off road capability is sort of odd as the platform crash strength and structural welds far surpass anything Jeep has offered in the past with the latest crash moderate overlap test results showing a remarkable improvement for the Jeep but a stable performance for the ML/GLE year on year via IIHS. On the other hand, the platform seems to have limited the Jeep’s previously lofty off-road chops.

          For the ML/GLE, the off-road engineering package from Magna offered since 2005 is still offered in most world markets except with the deletion of the locking rear diff and has always been baked into the platform, just not always offered here.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I don’t think anyone on here says the Durango is a *bad* vehicle.

      The biggest issues with it are:
      1. The FCA build-quality gamble
      2. The reputation of the Durango and the Dodge brand. You might be a “I don’t care what people think!” person but many people don’t want to spend $45K+ to be thought of as subprime trailer trash.
      3. The Grand Cherokee exists
      4. The availability of the V8 is extremely restricted now. It is only available on the AWD Citadel trim and on the R/T (either RWD or AWD). And on the already expensive Citadel AWD it is a $4000 option.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        The FCA build quality gamble is real.

        Spending 45k and being looked down upon because of the badge is also real though I don’t understand it.

        Forty five large is forty five large regardless. In a market where a Honda Odyssey climbs to the mid 40s, I’d think that the pearl clutching and looking down one’s nose would subside. At least a little bit.

        You’d think I know better, and in fact I do. After all, the CLA is playing on that same sentiment.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Hey, I only assume people in Darts or Calibers are subprime trash!

        (I kid, I kid.)

        I actually kinda like the Durango, and in principle the 200.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Some people feel free to speak directly out of their a$$.

      I speak from many experiences with current gen Durango.

      No Mercedes SUV is MORE quiet, rides BETTER, or is MORE torsionally rigid – period.

      As far as fuel economy, the V6 Pentastar with clone-ZF 8 speeds is easily capable of 25mpg+ at 75 mph+ all day/night at cruise on highways, and I’ve experienced closer to 30mpg at 80mph+ on flat stretches from Henderson, NV through the AZ border, all the way down to Lake Havasu.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        You should buy a used late-model Durango. The image problem is a very real issue (mostly stemming from the first-generation model that was and is beloved of people who think Steel Reserve is a quality beverage), but you don’t care about it. You could have what amounts to a ML350 with a Yankee engine and slightly worse assembly quality at a major discount.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          If I needed a 7 person SUV, I’d get a new one as I get real employee pricing thanks to a cousin (yep, it doesn’t need to be a parent, sibling, etc., in this case), and I also qualify for real Tier I Supplier pricing (nearly as good).

          I could buy a new one for a huge discount, with the tow package, drive it for two years, and sell it for an amount that would probably come out to have cost me $150/month (these hold their value, especially with the tow package, in Great Lakes boat world).

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            p.s. – I’m on a serious hunt for a 2010 to 2011 C63 and am waiting for someone to talk me out of it still.

          • 0 avatar
            Von

            You sure you don’t want an ATS V?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Go for it. The C63 was awesome. Just be sure to look for a late 2010 or a 2011.

            Although, since you seem to be fairly cool on FCA, you should give one of the 6.4L LX cars a look too. They are a lot of fun if you get one that was screwed together right.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Durango’s biggest problem is it’s badge. It would have done a heck of a lot better as the Jeep Commander (although would have bit into the Grand Cherokee). It doesn’t matter if it’s a great car or not, the badge alone give an unfavorable tint to it, and that bites come resale time.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’m not going to talk you out of anything with a M156.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          While the Durango’s assembly may not be anything special, the build quality of the first gen MLs were horrid. As were their reliablity. But for $5K more that a loaded Explorer, a suburban soccer mom could be seen driving a Mercedes. But what a POS.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Great suv to buy CPO two or three years old. MB lose a lot value the first two years. Take $20-23k off this sticker price and it makes a great buy.

  • avatar
    Ion

    The altimeter is still there but you have to be in off-road mode to see it.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Comparing this to a Durango? Huh?

    Does FCA still make those?

  • avatar
    hubcap

    This is about the same price of an LR4. I wonder how they stack up?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This and the GLS look ANCIENT compared to the new, gorgeous GLC. GLC is only second to the Macan on my “CUV for my wife but really for me” fantasy list. Hopefully this and the GLS get updated to the current MB language because the new C/E/S/GLC are the sexiest entrants in their respective segments by a country mile.

  • avatar
    shedkept

    First Gen. ML320’s were poor quality and were OTR referred to as “Alabama Garbage Trucks” by some techs. We’ve owned more than our fair share of MB sedans and the build quality of the original ML was sorely lacking. They’ve gotten a lot better and we’ve considered either an ML or GL to replace an aging wagon.
    FWIW; 10,000 miles is a drop in a bucket. Do 200,000 and tell me what you think.

    They still don’t build them like they used to. The Toyota Land Cruiser and Sequoia have them covered for longevity and resale.

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    Full disclosure: I work for a Daimler subsidiary. I’m on my fourth C300 (a 2015 W205) as a company car.

    I leased a 2015 ML350 for my wife last summer & she loves it. Probably only has 5,000 miles, but it drives wonderfully. She thinks it rides better than her previous Buick Lacrosse (it probably does). The small column shifter works great, as it does in my current C300. Frees up a bunch of space in the center console area. Haven’t heard the base stereo, but the Harmon Kardon Logic7 system does sound good. Kids love it, too. You get used to the electronic parking brake, as I have the same in my C300. To avoid the lurch, just gently touch the pedal first. Will be replacing it this summer with a GLE350 almost identical to the one in this review, including the color (Steel Grey).

    I suspect MB will update the GLE & GLS interiors when they do a full model changeover. Love the interior in my C class, the S Class, the GLC, & the upcoming new E class.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    “I say they added redundancy and complexity.”

    And thus the Myth of German Engineering. Why adopt simplicity and elegance of function when you can make it more complicated (read: higher probability of going inop)?

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Thanks Steve, now I’ll drift to sleep tonight haunted by the confusion of Madden sketching out a Walsh/Montana option pass play and trying to explain how defenses need a complete redesign to do more than limit the 9ers to a first down.
    Nice review.
    Moot.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    One subjective value the older ML seems to have retained was its clean and noble styling. Comparing similar SUVs from the era (excluding the X5, which also has aged gracefully) shows how nicely the vehicle was packaged. Still a noble-looking beast.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    “Alabama Garbage Truck” is an excellent name for the ML320, five of which were given the upper-management team at my former employer, a deutscher chemical/OEM coatings manufacturer. There was a struggle to keep two of the five running reliably enough to allow all the managers to drive and/or ride together between Ohio and the Detroit area for conferences/meetings in a style befitting their lofty positions. It was rather similar to a game of musical chairs that we of much lower status found highly amusing. I must admit that these vehicles, running or not, were very attractive parked next to each other in the front row of the parking lot…

  • avatar
    Von

    So soon, eh?

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    Forgot to mention the subtle reference to Prince in the article title. May he RIP. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but he did have some good music. D.M.S.R FTW!

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    Thanks! The creepy thing is that I composed that headline three days before he died.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Good job with this review. You should review more things even though you’re old and retired ;). Managing a decent level of objectivity is a good thing, and something not all reviewers around here can manage.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    I always did like the ML’s, even if the early ML’s are a BHPH favorite nowadays.

    The M272 *is* a nice mill.

  • avatar
    lauralou

    Guys,
    Someone mentioned transmission problems being common with the ML350. Has anyone had an issue of their car being thrown into park when opening the driver’s or passenger door (i.e. your kid wants to spit out his gum) and the car abruptly goes into park. (I think Steve mentions this in his article) This happened to me while backing out of the garage into driveway and was so sudden and abrupt that, in fact, I thought I had hit a low-lying item (bike, toy, BRICK WALL). I got out to check and the car suddenly began to roll backward down into the backyard (driveway ends at the crest of a small hill)This crazy confluence of events ended badly in injury and quite a bit of car and landscape damage.
    Has anyone heard of such a story? I’m looking for a precedent. And validation that I am not crazy.
    Thanks

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Where to start.

      1) Spit gum out into a wrapper/napkin and dispose of properly. To spit it on the ground is littering – or dirtying up your own property with gum. Teach your children this.

      2) Gum could be spit from an opened window, which is easier and safer than opening the whole door.

      3) Do not open doors while vehicle is in motion, common sense.

      4) Car stops abruptly without you shifting into park, so you -assume- it’s in park and get out to investigate something you hit.
      4)i. Car jolting to a stop via transmission issue feels different than car jolting to stop because of object.
      4)ii. Exiting car without verifying car in park is a terrible and unsafe idea, especially with children in the car.
      4)iii. All instances where being parked at the crest of any incline should involve use of the parking break in any vehicle.

      You’ve proved by your account that you’re likely an untrained and unskilled driver, and pose a threat to other motorists. Please take more driver education before entering the open road again.

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