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1999 ML320
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Discussion Starter #1
After a year of towing my horse trailer (90% of the time with only one horse and a weight of about 3500 lbs), I gave up and bought a nice Ford F150 with a 5.4 liter engine.

There is no doubt that the ML can pull 3500 lbs and sometimes as much as 4500 lbs but the 6 cylinder engine has to work hard to go up the rolling hills of Northern California.

The maneuvering of the ML is much easier than the F150 but the ride is 100% better in the truck and hills are less taxing on the truck.

I am confident that my ML with 203k miles could have continued to pull my trailer on a weekly basis but I think I am better off having a truck for towing and an SUV for everything else.
 

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'08 ML320 CDI, '02 ML 320 sold @ 277,000 km
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Towing our travel trailer

There is no doubt that the ML can pull 3500 lbs and sometimes as much as 4500 lbs but the 6 cylinder engine has to work hard to go up the rolling hills of Northern California.
I 100% agree.. we towed a travel trailer (about 4500 lbs loaded) from Toronto to Vancouver, down to Northern California, though Utah and back home.

There were many times when I had to take it down to 2nd gear while going through the mountains. Ditto when on the hills along the coast of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, which we do most years now..

Hoping to upgrade to a W164 with diesel engine in a year or two. Our ML320 is currently at 250,000 km.
 

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1999 ML320
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352 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Regarding the new Bluetec

Cupertino Mercedes is my indy mechanic. The owner had a ML320 Bluetec but got rid of it after it had several problems.

He told me to stay away from the Bluetec. I took his advice (and saved $40k).
 

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ML320,C230, F250, Bayliner, Mountain Bike, Fleetwood Motorhome etc...
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There is nothing better for towing than a Ford truck. I have a F-250 Super Duty with a 7.5 liter engine. There is NO ML 500 or 55 that can tow like a Ford can period... Good move on your part. Also you get a lot more for your money with a Ford...
 

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05 ML500 SE
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Well since ford, dodge and chevy have been in truck wars for decades now. The top pick is always rotating between brands. I think a better statement is there is no better tow vehicle than a modern full sized pickup diesel if possible. However I wouldn't turn down a tdi touareg v10 if someone gave me one.
 

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1999 ML320
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352 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Funny you mentioned the Touareg. Here were my choices and my reasoning (if anyone cares)
1. Diesel pickup - good gas mileage, expensive new ($45-$50k), $20k used (with 100k miles) and can pull 10,000 lbs (remember, I pull a maximum of 5000 lbs.
2. Diesel Touareg - great gas mileage, $50k, expensive to maintain including $1k for brakes every 30k miles, unproven resale value, can pull 7700 lbs (400 lbs of torque)
3. V8 Touareg - poor gas mileage, $17k can get you a nice 2005 version when the owner paid $45k new. expensive to maintain. Can pull 7700 lbs.
4. New 2011 F150 - V6 Ecoboost engine. Great power, good gas mileage, can pull 10k lbs, $35k, good resale value.
5. Used F150 - I bought a 2004 F150 owned by a 70 year old man who babied this truck. It had 35k miles, never towed anything, never anything in the bed, leather seats, sunroof, towing package, headed seats, new tires, brakes and battery. I paid $16k for it.

It was a tough decision but I spent a long time reading the Touareg forums and they just seemed to be expensive to maintain.

Everyone has their own criteria for buying a vehicle. This was my criteria and my decision.
 

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05 ML500 SE
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oh for sure the touareg is a non starter as a real tow vehicle. I had a 2006 diesel dodge ram 2500 and it was a real tower. I still love the 04-06 tdi v10's just because that engine is crazy... but the thing still weighs almost 6k lbs... might as well have a pickup at that point.
 

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2000 ML430
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Funny, I just gave up on a 1998 GMC K1500 as a tow vehicle in favor of a 2000 ML430. I am hoping it will be OK.

I have had Suburbans for the last 15 years. They make great tow vehicles and great family rigs. Two of our three kids are in college now so we don't need the third row seating. My wife is starting to commute longer distances to work and the 12-14 MPG was getting old.

We will tow our 19' Bluewater Open Bow ski boat which weighs about 3500-4000lbs (boat = 2400lb boat, trailer = 800lb, & stuff = 500lb).

Twice every summer we pull about 800 miles (round trip) accross state. The hills are no too bad. There are a couple of 10 mile long 4% grades. Other than that, it's only a 8 mile round trip to the local boat ramp.

The 4WD low range is nice on the ML430 since I live on a street with a 15% grade (it reduces the strain on the torque converter backing up my steep and narrow driveway.)

Suburbans are great tow rigs but they seem to be pretty worn out by about 125,000 miles.

I had had two ML430's. The 1999 has 197,000 miles and drives better than the Suburbans with 100,000 miles.

Cheers

Eddie
 

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03 ML350
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245 Posts
...The 4WD low range is nice on the ML430 since I live on a street with a 15% grade (it reduces the strain on the torque converter backing up my steep and narrow driveway.)...
One of the major reasons I bought my ML. Very few vehicles can run low range on pavement. Although, I used to unplug the electrical connector to the front axle disconnect on my Chevy during the summer so I could run 4-low on pavement.
 

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ML320,C230, F250, Bayliner, Mountain Bike, Fleetwood Motorhome etc...
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Well since ford, dodge and chevy have been in truck wars for decades now. The top pick is always rotating between brands. I think a better statement is there is no better tow vehicle than a modern full sized pickup diesel if possible. However I wouldn't turn down a tdi touareg v10 if someone gave me one.
Yeah the truck wars have been going on for a long time. I have owned Chevy, Dodge, and Fords. I also maintain work for a company that has many Ford and Chevy vans. The ford vans always hold up better to the abuse that they get. Dodge is good but they have more transmission problems than other trucks. The Cummins diesel in the Dodge is a great engine but to me not worth the premium price.
For my money I think the best value and durability is Ford...
 

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03 ML350
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245 Posts
After 3 mediocre Fords in a row (all bought new) I just cant't see myself ever trusting them again. I'm not talking about minor fix-its, but major driveability problems they couldn't/wouldn't fix.
 

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1999 ML320
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352 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I found it interesting

that I get the same gas mileage on my ml320 and my f150 5.4liter V8 when I pull a horse trailer. 10mpg.

It tells you how hard the ML had to work to pull 4000 lbs up hills.

My wife says our ML enjoys its retirement from being a workhorse (no pun intended)
 
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