2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup

2012 mercedes ml350 bluetec diesel
photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel SUV and thinking about the Mercedes ML350 BlueTEC? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The Mercedes-Benz ML350 M-Class SUV has been redesigned for 2012. Under its hood is a redesigned 3.0 liter V-6 turbo-diesel engine that generates 240 horsepower — that’s an increase of 30 horses from the previous model. The redesigned ML350 is about 1-inch longer and half an inch wider than the previous model. Cargo space measures  7 cubic feet more than before. It features 4MATIC all-wheel drive and gets 20 MPG city and 27 MPG highway. Base price for the diesel is about $50,490.

Car and Driver – 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-class ML350 BlueTEC

C&D discusses much-needed changes including a repositioning of the turn signal/wiper stalk and the cruise control command. Still, they complained that “you’ll still find yourself flicking at the column-mounted gear selector whenever you desire wipers. It’s annoying.”

They report that due to the addition of high insulation glazing and sealing, the car is very quiet. They also found the ride is “cushy” and the “suspension travel feels endless.”  They also praised the off-road ride as better than the earlier ML350. “Over hill and dirty dale, the long-travel suspension, the silky dampers, and the rock-solid platform conspire to improve the experience,” they said. In addition the diesel engine is given an assist for the better off-road experience. “The diesel engine definitely is an ally—it’s among the most velvety oil-burners ever installed in a passenger car. No clattder, no soot, no odor, no tactile evidence to reveal its baser origins,” they comment. However, they were somewhat disturbed at the weight of the new ML350, stating that the SUV “feels massive, a little slow-witted, and somewhat resistant to course corrections.”

C&D liked the efficiency of the turbo-diesel and the “loads” of safety equipment. They also praised the improved interior and “more modern” exterior. They identified the low as being the sticker shock and they labeled it as “a little boring.”

They conclude, “If you’re looking for driving gratification or personality, well, it will have to derive from the M-class’s luxurious fittings and from its soothing soundlessness.”

MotorTrend  First Drive Review: 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC

MotorTrend begins with praise of the BlueTEC diesel engine. “Truth is, when you’re hauling people, gear, and 5000 pounds of luxury SUV, diesel engines make a lot of sense,” they say. “The Bluetec mill in question is also one of the smoother diesel engines we’ve experienced… And all the while, fuel economy is estimated to the tune of 20/25 mpg city/highway, which equates to a 3-mpg gain over the gas-powered version.”

They say the cargo capacity doesn’t disappoint — more than 36 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 71 cubic feet when the seats are folded down. They also liked the shape of the cargo space, with minimal intrusion from the wheel wells.

They also loved the all-wheel drive. “(T)he all-wheel-drive sport ‘ute also is among the top in its class when it comes to driving experience. There are few other midsize SUVs that deliver the blend of comfort and sport the ML does.” They also mentioned that the ML “remained highly controllable and more responsive than many others in this class” and that brakes were “always solid and easy to modulate.”

MotorWeek – Road Tests: 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC

The review begins, “Over a decade and a half ago, when Mercedes-Benz announced that they would not only start building a luxury SUV, but assemble it here in America, most people thought they were crazy. Well, after two generations of setting the pace for luxury utilities, it’s safe to say the Mercedes-Benz M-class has been a success. Now, with an all-new third gen ML, Mercedes is addressing a few areas they felt still needed improvement.”

They really liked the interior. “(T)he overall quality of materials is greatly improved. Fit and finish, an early bone of contention, is also solidly up a big notch.” However, they still complain that  the Mercedes COMMAND system and radio controls leaves them “more frustrated than satisfied.” They mention that rear seat room is adequate for three passengers and the seats are “very comfortable.”

They were able to achieve a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds and they claimed that the diesel’s “massive torque” helped. They also liked the transmission, turbo power, handling and braking. “With the barest amount of turbo lag, our diesel likes to rev, as it made its way to the end of the quarter mile in 15.4-seconds at 89 miles-per-hour. Handling feels very solid and composed, more like a top-heavy S-class than an SUV.” MotorWeek concludes, “The 2012 ML350 is a true premium SUV. And, even with a few quirks, this made in the U.S.A. luxury Ute is one classy ride.”

2012 Mercedes GL350 BlueTEC Diesel SUV Review Summary

In conclusion, the consensus appears to be:


  • Quiet
  • Cushy ride
  • Suspension
  • Off-road ride
  • Efficiency and power of turbo-diesel engine
  • Strong and solid
  • Improved interior
  • Loads of safety equipment
  • Sufficient cargo space
  • Adequate rear seat room
  • Comfortable seats


  • Location of wiper stalk “annoying”
  • Vehicle’s weight
  • Limited driving gratification
  • A little boring
  • Frustrating controls for Command System and Radio

Do you own this vehicle, or have you driven one? What’s your take?

Leave a comment and help out the people who are researching this SUV!


1 Comment

  1. Purchased the 2012 ML350 after selling my 2012 Explorer due to frustration with “my touch” etc. Dealing with the Ford led to 3 near miss rear end collisions and inadvertentedly running one red light. I find the 350 system for more intuitive. Either vehicle requires a bit of learn time but the 350 controls are more straightforward and easily remembered. Further its very quiet, handling is terrific, and comfort is great. I’m 6’5″ and get in and out easily without banging my head. Ditto great legroom. Fuel use averages at about 24 mpg on town freeways — I’m at 1000 miles.

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