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The 2015 Mercedes-Benz M-Class carries on the same basic look of the prior two generations, although in this latest iteration it has been refined to blend the rugged concept with a somewhat wider, road-oriented stance. Although the M-Class and GL-Class share underpinnings, has more of a car-like look, while the GL reminds us more of a traditional SUV.
The 2015 M-Class's proportions will look and feel familiar. The front end is imposing, with large air dams and a broad grille, and the sides have lines and creases that extend all the way back to the C-pillars. You'll notice its prominent shoulder-line from just about any angle, as it wraps all the way to the back of the M-Class, where, perhaps, its lines are most conservative. The rear styling is handsome but a tad generic, something that plagues many SUVs of this size.
Looks can be at least a little deceiving here. While the 2015 M-Class may appear tough enough to spend time off-road, it's actually happiest when it's treated like a luxury sedan. Its roadholding is confident, handling is secure, and the powertrains are willing and responsive. There's even a rear-drive version with the base V-6 for those who don't even need to pretend to have capability they likely won't use.
That base V-6 engine is the brand's latest 3.5-liter, 60-degree V-6, which we think is one of the best V-6 luxury engines. It's rated at 302 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, with a nice even powerband that makes it feel sprightly from a standing start or when pressed to pull off a quick pass. It works in concert with the seven-speed automatic transmission and sings all the way up the rev range with no rough edges.
Above that is the new ML400, which replaces the ML550 for 2015. Gone is the twin-turbo V-8 and in its place a twin-turbo six that makes slightly less power and torque—329 hp and 354 lb-ft. Though we haven't sampled it yet, we expect it to hit a nice balance between the ML350, which can feel taxed at times, and the outgoing ML550, which seemed to be almost as quick as the AMG model.
As you might expect in a Mercedes-Benz, the M-Class has excellent seats--well-contoured and soft, yet all-day supportive. There's space for taller adults in the second row, too, although fitting three across will prove tight. You can, however, adjust the rear seatbacks, and even with them up and in place there's more than 36 cubic feet of cargo space behind them.
The cabin experience is tight, quiet, and isolated. The standard suspension provides good comfort but also responds well when you push it in corners. There's a rather wide difference between the two modes (Comfort and Sport) of the available air suspension and adaptive damping system, which play a major part in pairing isolation and control. Comfort provides more of a traditional luxury-car ride, while with Sport you get a somewhat crisper feel at turn-in, with a little more road noise and coarseness.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.