If price is not an important factor, go for an ML500. If you want to save several thousand on the cost and a few dollars a week on gas, go for an ML320 (2002 or 2003 model would be the most reliable). The ML350 is nice, but you lose some fuel economy, plus the stock rims protrude outward further than the rubber, which makes them a bad choice for off-roading. Oh, and the crawl speed of the ML320 is the lowest, if that matters.
It has plenty of power for in town out of town trips.
In the summer time we take trips to Flagstaff which is at 7000ft and we are at 1500ft. Their are two long climbs up to get there. The 3.2 V6 has plenty of power to get you up those hills at 80 lightly loated and 70-75 fully loaded. This is fine since you are still faster than 90% of traffic going up these.
I don't expect the 3.2 V6 to be towing monster however. I might tow something light, but that is about it.
It get about 18.5 MPG with my wife driving in mixed hwy/city. It could probably do mid 19's, but she tends to step on it when accelerating.
We are very pleased with it and we go the right motor for our needs.
For off-road you may want to find some 16" wheels from the early ML's. Like Rodney mentioned the ones on our 2003 are 17" and extend out a bit. We don't do as much off road as I would like, but if you are going to push it a bit then 17" wheels are bit of weak spot IMHO. I used have 98 Jeep Cherokee with a 4.5" lift so I have seen my fair share of trails.
Don't, you'll regret it.
Just my experience with MB products
over the last decade especially the
W163's, tranny just gave out on my
wifes ML430 @120K, and the engine just
died on my c280, I'm gonna check out
the Japanese products from now on...
I love my ML ... as long as you get one with the proper history and good maint records you should be fine. As stated above get an 02+ bec they have a better track record. My 320 has plenty of power for off-road use, not to mention the fact I have stock gears along with 18" wheels and 33 BFG AT's !!
If you get one, take care of it and it will take care of you. I love my truck and I wouldnt give it up for anything. I would however add a G to my stable. Once I have the cash I shall .. [8D]
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