This is an EXCELLENT SUV. The 5L V8 pulls very hard, and puts many fine sedans to shame in terms of performance. 324 of torque is enough to make the ML literally "jump" when launched from a stand still.
Also, the 5-speed manu-matic transmission is heavy duty and capable to shifting smoothly even when the ML is loaded very heavily.
The 5L V8, together with the excellent 5-speed tranny achieve superior engine braking. In the winter, you can almost bring the ML to a stop just by down shifting and letting the engine brake. It's a fantastic safety feature in snow and ice situations.
The seats in the ML are very comfortable. They do not constrict the occupants in the thighs like many other "bucket" seats do. Instead, you have a "chair" on which you can sit in any position.
It's very easy to get in and out of the ML. This is partially due to its high ride height, plus its well-shaped seats.
Rear-view mirror is too small in my opinion, and doesn't cover enough (up-down) area. However, it does auto-dim. The driver's side mirror also auto-dims. Both side mirrors are large and cover the sides well.
This particular ML500 has the Parktronic sonar parking system. It has 6 front sensors and 4 rear. There are two separate displays indicating colored lights so you can see how much distance on each corner of the vehicle you have until the nearest obstacle. Once you get close on any side, the ML also starts beeping at you. This ML is easier to park than many other smaller vehicles thanks to this excellent system.
The 9-speaker Bose audio system has digital signal processing and a small subwoofer located under the front passenger seat. This system is best suited for classical and jazz music genres. While bass is produced very well at lower volumes, the sub is simply underpowered, leaving the mids and highs to only increase with volume. 6CD changer in the back of the vehicle is a little hard to reach and does NOT read data MP3 or WMA CDs.
The ML has one of the best cargo capabilities out of all luxury SUVs in this class. The rear hatch opens wide upwards. Furthermore, because the full-size spare tire is located under the vehicle, the ML offers a low trunk floor. This enables one to load quite massive and bulky items. Also, the trunk opening itself is rather square-shaped which aids. The rear seat backs fold down 60/40. Once folded, the whole rear seats can then be additionally folded down closer to the SUV floor. This makes a VERY long, flat and level cargo floor all the way up to the front seats. The cargo floor can accommodate 4-feet wide objects (i.e. drywall). If transporting wood planks, the maximum length the ML can swallow is 9.5 feet. These are EXCELLENT cargo capabilities considering this is a luxury SUV.
In the driving department, the ML500 drives solidly. The closest description would be a bank vault on wheels. It absorbs all bumps, holes and rough roads while just swaying lightly. Ultimate comfort!!! There is absolutely no difference what speed you drive at because in the ML you feel no vibrations or extra wind noise. 120 and 160km/h feel the same.
Next year we might buy a new SUV, and the top option on our list is Benz's ML550. Let's see how the new generation continues the ML's winning streaks!