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 |  Jul 13 2011, 9:45 AM

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In a pleasantly surprising move, Mercedes-Benz has announced pricing for the new 2012 M-Class SUV, stating that its starting price will remain the same as its 2011 model, despite offering more than its predecessor. At launch, Mercedes will offer two different models in North America, the ML350 4MATIC and the diesel BlueTEC ML350.

For its third generation, the 2012 M-Class sits .75-inch lower than the previous model, is nearly an inch longer and a half-inch wider. In addition, the SUV gets a styling refresh all around, most noticeably in its front end with a bolder yet more elegant design. The newly refreshed headlights are flush-mounted in the fenders and daytime LED running lights find their way onto the front bumper.

The standard ML350 4MATIC will come powered by a 302-hp 3.5L V6 engine with 273 lb-ft of torque. That’s 13-percent more power for 2012 at an MSRP of $49,865. The diesel BlueTEC features a 3.0L V6 powerplant with 240-hp and an impressive 455 lb-ft of torque with 30-percent better fuel economy than a gasoline counterpart. The ML350 BlueTEC starts at a very reasonable $51,365.

Tech-heads will be happy to hear that the new M-Class also features an all new iPad docking station behind the headrests of the front seats. The docking station can be rotated up to 90-degrees and tilted while being charged through the vehicle.

Look for AutoGuide’s 2012 M-Class review soon.

GALLERY: 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

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 |  Jun 08 2011, 7:09 AM

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Mercedes has just released images and details of the third generation of its volume SUV, the ML-Class. Riding on an all new chassis, engine options will initially be limited to three more entry-level powerplants. The entry level ML250 Bluetec will be motivated by a 2.1-liter diesel 4-cylinder with 204-hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, although it’s not expected to be offered in North America.

Instead, the ML lineup will begin here with the ML350 BlueEfficiency, which shares the same direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 as the new C-Class with a bump in power to 306-hp and 273 lb-ft of torque.

The diesel ML has always been a strong seller and so its no surprise that it’s back for 2012 with a 3.0-liter V6 making 258-hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. All engine options will come mated to an updated version of Mercedes’ 7-speed automatic transmission and the brand’s 4MATCI AWD system will be standard.

U.S. fuel economy numbers have yet to be released, but look for an improvement across the model range.

In total, the new SUV is roughly one inch longer and half an inch wider than the model it replaces. It’s also almost an inch lower, delivering an improved center of gravity and an even more car-like feel.

Inside, the cabin gets reworked and much improved, with the old 2005 design much in need of a makeover. Along with an easier to use COMAND system, it will also get Internet access and an optional On&Offroad six-mode dial to deliver different transmission settings for different driving conditions.

On sale this Fall, look for a hybrid model to follow, as well as a high-performance ML63 AMG version, making well over 500-hp thanks to a new twin-turbocharged V8 engine.

GALLERY: 2012 Mercedes ML-Class

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