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2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic First Test

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 8/13/2015 Jason Udy, Robin Trajano

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic is a one-year model. It replaces the more powerful 2014 Mercedes ML550 and will be replaced by the new GLE400 for 2016 (stay tuned for more on the GLE in the next couple months). Despite the name change and new chassis, the ML400’s twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 still powers the new Mercedes-Benz GLE400.

The engine is rated at 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive system. In comparison, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML550 4Matic’s twin-turbo, 4.6-liter V-8 made 402 hp and 443 lb-ft. That leaves a larger performance gap between what is now the most powerful non-AMG ML-Class and the ML63 AMG, which is rated 518-550 hp and 516-560 lb-ft.

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2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic

At the dragstrip, the twin-turbo V-6 is capable of propelling the 5,098-pound SUV to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14.4 seconds at 96.1 mph. Braking from 60 mph took 117 feet. The ML400 4Matic pulled 0.85 g around the skidpad and lapped the figure eight in 27.2 seconds at 0.67 g. Those handling figures are in part because of the 265/45R20 Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires mounted on 20-by-9-inch alloy wheels.

Although we haven’t tested the previous ML550 4Matic, we do have test results on a 2013 ML63 AMG with 518 hp. That model reached 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds at 111.6 mph. The AMG stopped from 60 mph in 102 feet, posted 0.89 g around the skidpad, and lapped the figure eight in 25.9 seconds at 0.75 g.

2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic

During my tenure with the 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic, I took it on a 1,750-mile road trip to the Rocky Mountains. On my way from the Los Angeles Basin to Salt Lake City, I took a detour off I-15 near Baker, California, to spend a day at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, to drive some high-performance sports cars. The majority of the drive between Baker and Pahrump on California state routes 127 and 178 and Nevada Route 372 features some decent curved sections. Most of the speed limits are set at 55, with a few sections as high as 70 mph, but the ML400 could easily handle the road at much higher speeds should you ignore the speedometer. Although the ML400’s suspension offers Sport and Comfort settings, it rode well in Sport mode—the only setting I used during my time behind the wheel.

Being a midsize luxury SUV, the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class has a spacious front and rear seating area, and the cargo area features a generous 38.2 cubic feet behind the second row and up to 80.3 cubic feet behind the first-row seats—plenty of room for four adults and their luggage on a long road trip or five adults on shorter trips.

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2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic

During my nearly 10-hour drive each way, the heated, vented, and massaging seats made the trip that much more enjoyable. And with most Mercedes-Benz models, all three functions can be used at once. The vented function will stay on the highest setting the entire drive, but the heated setting will gradually drop from high to medium to low, and the massage function has to be restarted about every 20 minutes. A small price to pay for a relaxing and luxurious road trip.

The ML400 4Matic is EPA-rated 18/22/20 mpg city/highway/combined, which compares favorably with my observed fuel economy of 20.2 mpg on my trip. Much of that trip was spent about 7-8 mph over the speed limits of 70-80 mph, as well as 350-400 miles of city driving. In our Real MPG testing, the ML400 achieved 17.8/21.9/19.5 mpg, numbers pretty much identical to the official rating.

2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic

With a base price of $63,825, our tester was finished in $720 Obsidian Black Metallic paint over black leather with $160 Anthracite Poplar wood trim. The $4,200 Designo Porcelain Leather option adds Porcelain Nappa leather, a Black Dinamica headliner, and a memory passenger seat with lumbar support. Other interior options include $1,100 for front multi-contour seats with massage, $570 for ventilated front seats, and $1,090 for a panoramic sunroof. Active safety features include the $1,950 Driver Assistance package (Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe brake, active blind-spot assist, and active lane keeping assist) and the $1,290 Parking Assist package (Parktronic with active parking assist and a surround view camera system)

Exterior options include the $1,390 Lighting package (HID headlights with active curve illumination and adaptive high-beam assist), $750 20-inch AMG five-spoke wheels, and a $575 trailer hitch. Performance options include the $1,610 Airmatic Air Suspension package (Airmatic air suspension, an adaptive damping system with Sport and Comfort modes) and the $2,910 active curve system. There is also a $250 special order fee. In total, our tester rang the register at $82,390.

2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic

Notable standard features include Mercedes’ COMAND system with navigation; Bluetooth; SiriusXM radio; a Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system; power front seats with driver lumbar and memory driver’s seat, steering column, and exterior mirrors; power-folding mirrors; dual-zone climate control; heated front seats; heated/cooled front cupholders; multi-color ambient lighting with illuminated door sills; Keyless-Go; a rearview camera; a power liftgate; and rain-sensing wipers.

2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mercedes Benz ML400 4Matic

Standard safety features include collision prevention assist, attention assist, LED daytime running lights, and adaptive braking technology.

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic offers a nice balance between power and fuel economy while delivering lots of luxury and a sportier drive without being harsh. Luxury also means space for four adults and room for all their cargo. The ML400 makes a nice compromise for those who want more power than the 302-hp ML350 and better fuel mileage than the ML63 AMG.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic
BASE PRICE$63,825
PRICE AS TESTED$83,090
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE3.0L/329-hp/354-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION7-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)5,098 lb (52/48%)
WHEELBASE114.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT189.1 x 75.8 x 70.7 in
0-60 MPH5.9 sec
QUARTER MILE14.4 sec @ 96.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.85 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT27.2 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON18/22/20 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY187/153 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.99 lb/mile

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