The tires with which the car was bought were quite worn out (especially fronts). Since this is a wear-and-tear issue, I had to buy a set of 4 brand new Michelin SUV Cross Terrain tires from my local mechanic/friend. They have been EXCELLENT relative to the Dunlop tires with which the ML came with. Wet traction in particular is MUCH better.
When we got the car, it needed alignment. The car was unable to steer in a straight line. When braking, it did NOT pull to any side. However, if you were driving at city speeds, it would always try to veer into the slope of the road. You had to always correct with the steering wheel. I visited 2 different dealers about this for a total of about 5 times. They all claimed this behavior was within norm. I then rented a similar ML350 (smaller engine) SUV to see if it also veered off. It did not. I ended up paying my local mechanic/friend who performed alignment. The problem has since disappeared.
My ML500 had the well-known brake squeal from all 4 wheels. Downtown Mercedes corrected this issue.
My ML500 has the 9-speaker Bose DSP audio system. This audio system has the so-called AutioPilot technology which scans interior and exterior noise and dynamically compensates by adjusting the volume by itself. Well, since day 1 this feature has been EXTREMELY over-sensitive. The volume would fluctuate a lot, to the point where we just drove the ML with the radio off. I approached Benz Thornhill and Downtown Benz about this several times. Thornhill replaced the head unit and amplifier which only improved the issue by a little. Downtown Benz ended up replacing the entire wiring which solved the issue. Apparently, somewhere, some wires were getting interference which caused the massive fluctuations in the automatic volume compensation.
The main bi-xenon headlights were aimed too low. Thornhill Benz re-aimed them, however I see no difference. They are still aimed VERY low to the point where it's uncomfortable to drive at night on the highway because the beam simply points downward 5 meters ahead only. I am still working on this.
The driver's seat headrest was too loose and would not stay in a folded position. Thornhill Benz gave us a new one.
Both headlights started developed moisture (condensation). Downtown Benz installed brand new headlights.
Center console cup holder broke. Downtown Benz replaced it.
Rear left seat got stuck in folded down position. Downtown Benz fixed it.
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!