The new 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class rolling into showrooms later this year won’t look all that much different from the current version – at least not if these first images released by the German maker are any indication. But there’ll be some big differences “under the hood” that could significantly improve the capabilities of the Teutonic crossover-ute.
The third-generation Mercedes ML will be the last major project to emerge from the star-crossed “merger-of-equals” between Daimler AG and America’s Chrysler Corp. Though Mercedes will stress that it has since done plenty of engineering on its own, the fact is that the 2012 crossover shares its underpinnings with the popular new Jeep Grand Cherokee, a runner-up in the recent voting for North American Truck of the Year.
The exterior of the new ML maintains essentially the same dimensions as the gen-2 model, and it will likely take most observers a moment to recognize this is a new offering. A closer look reveals a bit more sculpting to the body, with the side panels flaring rearward from the front wheel well, and a more muscular bulge to the hood.
The interior is modestly upgraded; roomier than before, it features a fatter steering wheel and sporty rectangular air vents replacing the previous round ones. Despite the extensive use of leather and chrome, some observers might even find some surprising similarities to the latest-generation Jeep.