BULLETIN: I will be blogging from NASCAR's Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma this weekend - mg
Naturally, you have to be ready to pay -- $57,590 to start on my tester, which was liberally dressed up in extras to tip the scales at $66,000 and change.
Never being one to dwell on the irony of testing a vehicle I can’t afford, I dug right in. So did the ML550.
Just a slight nudge on the gas caused the tires to seemingly immerse themselves in the pavement, pressing me into my cockpit seat and giving my heart a start. They weren’t telling tall tales with the horsepower and torque ratings of 402 and 443 foot-pounds, respectively.
For all the juice, steering was remarkably just-right firm and comfortable. Even loaded up with cargo, the tester offered no resistance. It just moved ahead with smooth and quiet grace. Luxury liner? Ah, yes.
The seven-speed adaptive automatic transmission, by the way, was a sweet, seamless piece of engineering. I actually found time to savor the magnificent cruising sensation amid a blizzard of comfort/convenience features. Mercedes-Benz did not hold back on the perks in this model, stuffing it with enough goodies to keep even the most relentless button-pusher happily occupied.
It’s a small touch, but one I like: running boards. Typically, I have to sort of fall out of the cockpit seat of a big-shouldered SUV. Not so here. A light step onto the running board, and I’m on my way.
All this is accompanied by an incredibly long list of safety and security features – top tier equipment under Mercedes’ hand.
Fuel mileage was – sheesh! – only 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. That hurts.
I also was not fond of the optional blind spot assistance system, which was slow on the draw. I don’t need a warning when I’ve blown 50 yards beyond a car that was just recently in a blind spot in the adjacent lane.
Overall, this ML550 does the automaker proud. Congratulations to those who have the funds to buy one off the lot.