3/4 Front Glamour 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML550

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MPG 14 City / 20 Highway
  • Many powertrain options
  • Lots of cargo space
  • Impressive towing capability
  • Many standard safety features
  • Rear visibility somewhat limited
  • Leather interior not standard
, Automotive Editor -
The well-equipped ML550 tows with the best and sprints like a sports car, making it a true competitor in its segment.


The M-Class SUV first made an appearance in the U.S. market in 1998 in the form of the ML320, but that wasn’t enough for the SUV-hungry American market. The ML430 and ML500 quickly followed suit. In the 2008 model year, the ML-Class grew yet again with the addition of the ML550, which was placed just below the range-topping ML63 AMG.

For the 2013 model year, the ML550 is completely unchanged from the 2012 model year. It comes fitted with an impressive twin-turbo 4.6-liter V8 engine that pumps out 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. This powerful engine mates to a seven-speed automatic transmission that delivers power to all four wheels through the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system.

This powertrain is perfectly balanced for utility and sport, as it can get the ML550 to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds and to a 130 mph top speed, yet also affords a 7,200-pound towing capacity. On top of that, the it gets a respectable 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway.

The ML550 completes the package with plenty of features. It features top-end items like an in-dash DVD player, 19-inch alloy wheels, sport ground effects and heated front seats. Safety is also a top priority, as the ML550 comes standard with 11-way airbag protection and a host of systems like Attention Assist and adaptive braking.

With a price tag near $60,000 -- high when compared to its competition -- the ML550 should have leather upholstery, not the fancifully-named MB-Tex vinyl. The ML also gets a black eye for its numb steering system, which dulls the driving experience in this performance-oriented SUV.

Which Style To Buy?

2013 Mercedes-Benz ML550
Starting price

2013 Mercedes-Benz ML550 Base

Recommended for: Buyers who want a premium sports-oriented SUV

The ML550 has plenty of standard features: an automatic-adjusting suspension system; adaptive braking; Trailer Stability Assist; 19-inch five-spoke wheels; LED daytime running lights; a power rear hatch; aluminum roof rails; sport ground effects; a leather-wrapped, four-spoke multifunction steering wheel; burled walnut trim; MB-Tex (synthetic leather) upholstery; heated and power front seats; a universal garage door opener; and an AM/FM/CD/DVD audio system with Bluetooth audio streaming and a 7-inch LCD screen.

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