Mercedes-Benz has a diesel SUV that is so clean it can be sold in 50 states.
(SFGate.com) Meeting the ultra-stringent emissions requirements in states such as California and Vermont is a real test of the new clean engine technology many automakers are targeting to achieve.
Mercedes-Benz introduces the 2009 ML 320 BlueTEC. This five-passenger sport utility vehicle is equipped with a new exhaust treatment - AdBlue - that helps the vehicle meet the 50-state emissions limits.
Mercedes-Benz' AdBlue technology is a solution that breaks down polluting exhaust gases into its own solution parts: water and urea. In turn, the urea converts to ammonia, which breaks down the harmful nitrogen oxide gases into a harmless nitrogen gas. This explanation is the short cliff notes version of very sophisticated and technically advanced engineering, but it quickly sums up why Mercedes is able to sell its diesel vehicles in all 50 states. All the consumer has to remember is "AdBlue." It's where the ML 320 BlueTEC gets its name.
Under the hood of the ML 320 BlueTEC is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. My tester featured the intelligent key system, so with the key fob in my pocket all I had to do was push a start button and the engine turned over.
The ML makes every bit the sound of a diesel engine when it's turned over. We've all heard that noise. I'd describe it as a purring rattle. I stuck my nose out the driver's window after starting the diesel. The air smelled good. The ML 320 is a clean-smelling diesel.
The turbodiesel V6 generates great torque of 398 pound-feet at a very low 1600 through 2400 rpm. Torque is the real power you feel when launching the vehicle from a standing stop. It is a ton of power.
The automaker says the torque rating on its ML 320 BlueTEC gives it the pulling power of a V8, making it ideal for towing. The trailering rating on this 2009 SUV is 7,200 pounds. The horsepower rating comes in at 201 at 3400 rpm.
The tank holds 25 gallons of diesel fuel and Mercedes reports the cruising range is 600 miles at highway speeds. The EPA has rated the economy at 18 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 20 mpg.
Among the new-for-2009 features for Mercedes-Benz is the COMAND system. COMAND is a standard feature in the tester. It comes with a 6.5-inch color display screen. Monitors like this one are very helpful for quick glances when looking at the navigation map, reading the names of roads, seeing what's behind on the rearview back-up camera or even getting read-out data on MP3 and other audio play devices.
Standard safety equipment includes the automaker's Pre-Safe system. In impending panic crash events, the system anticipates an accident and prepares the car and its occupants for safety. For example, Pre-Safe will close the side windows so that the side curtain air bags better deploy and protect passengers. The sunroof also automatically closes in the unlikely event of a rollover.
The base price for the ML 320 BlueTEC is $48,600. The tester featured optional equipment that brought the as-tested, including destination charge, to $58,885.
2009 Mercedes-Benz ML 320 BlueTEC
: five-passenger FWD SUV
$48,600 (as tested: $58,885)
DOHC turbodiesel V6
: 3.0 liter
210 net at 3800 rpm
398 pound-feet at 1600 to 2400 rpm
: 115 inches
64/64 inches (front/rear)
: 189 inches
: 76 inches
38 feet (curb-to-curb)
: 4,974 pounds
EPA mileage rating:
18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway