Mercedes-Benz entered the United States SUV market in 1998 with their M class of luxury mid-sized Sport Utility Vehicles. The ML320 was built exclusively in the United States for the U.S. marketplace. The ML320 Mercedes SUV featured a 3.2L 6-cylinder engine and electronic stability control.
By addressing the top two industry complaints filed against the Sport Utility Vehicle, poor fuel economy and vehicle roll over, the M class became Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year for 1998.
The M class for 2010 focuses on fuel efficiency and performance. The ML30 has a 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine with an estimated fuel consumption of 24mpg. The powerful ML63 has a top speed of 155mph and can accelerate from zero to sixty in under five seconds.
The G class or Gelaendewagen, which translates to “tough terrain vehicle”, is hand built in Austria. This Mercedes SUV was not widely available in the United States until 2002. The four-door G500 includes as standard equipment every available upgrade Mercedes-Benz has to offer. The entire vehicle is reminiscent of an opulent sedan. However, the G500 is built for extreme off road driving.
The Mercedes GL class is a full sized SUV featuring third row seating. The GL320 has an AWD transmission powered by a turbo charged V6 diesel engine. The GL450 with the 4.7-liter V8 has AWD all the time. The GL class comes beautifully appointed with all the standard comforts including heated leather seats and push button shift controls on the steering column.
The Mercedes R class introduced in 2006 is a synthesis of technology and luxury. The R class for 2010 comes standard with the Mercedes Pre-Safe system. The Mercedes Pre-Safe system will unlock the doors, shut the engine off, and tighten the seat belts in a crash event. The R class comes with AWD and third row seating.
The GLK class is the first compact Mercedes SUV in the United States. The GLK can go off road with its seven-speed 4matic AWD transmission. It can go from zero to sixty in 7 seconds and has a top speed of about 140mph. However, the standard cabin is minimalist in its design.