Starting with the North American model, the third-generation ML-Class will make its U.S. retail debut in September 2011 with two available models at launch, the ML350 4MATIC and the ML350 BlueTEC. More engines will be added down the road.
The gasoline-powered ML350 is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 delivering 302HP and 273 lb-ft of peak torque, and returns an estimated fuel economy of 17mpg city and 22mpg highway. The outgoing ML350 with a 268HP V6 returned 15mpg and 20mpg respectively.
The ML350 BlueTEC features a 3.0-liter V6 diesel rated at 240HP and 455 lb-ft, returning 20mpg city and 25mpg highway (previous model: 18mpg/25mpg).
A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard on both models.
In Europe, Mercedes will eventually offer the 2012 ML-Class with a broader range of diesel and gasoline powerplants. New to the lineup is the ML250 powered by a 2.1-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel with 204HP and 500Nm (368.8 lb-ft) of peak torque, and a combined fuel economy of 6.0lt/100km (39.2 mpg US).
At launch, there’s also the ML 350 BlueTEC with a 250HP 3.0-liter V6 diesel (6.8 lt/100km) and the ML 350 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY with a 3.5-liter V6 petrol delivering 306HP (8.5 lt/100km).
All models are equipped with a seven-speed auto and four-wheel drive as standard.
More powerful V8 variants including the top-end AMG with a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 will follow at a later date.
Mercedes will also offer the optional On&Offroad package for the new M-Class (available next year in the U.S.) that utilizes a range of six transmission modes to optimize driving dynamics and handling by changing the settings for the AIRMATIC suspension and the powertrain. The system offers a single automatic mode, two dedicated off-road modes and three on-road modes, all controlled through a rotary knob on the center console.