Thinking about buying a Mercedes-Benz ML350? Compare it to a BMW X5 first!


The BMW X5 Overview

In 1999, BMW forever altered the automotive landscape with the launch of the world's first Sports Activity Vehicle® – the now legendary X5. Never before had anyone thought it possible to effectively infuse a vehicle of such size and versatility with the soul and athleticism of an authentic sports sedan.
Now, more than a decade later, no fewer than nine other premium nameplates have their sites set on competing with the X5. Unfortunately for them, the 2011 BMW X5 is the beneficiary of more than 4,000 new parts, all created by BMW designers and engineers to create a vehicle that is unmatched in its ability to blend driving dynamics, responsiveness, and agility with utility, versatility and luxuriousness.
Need proof? As of June 2010, no other competitor listed on this page offers more horsepower, more torque, or a faster 0 – 60 mph time than its direct X5 counterpart. Yet despite the clear power advantage, only one can match the X5's fuel efficiency.
And that's just scratching the surface.

The Mercedes-Benz ML350 Overview

Built in Alabama, the 1998 Mercedes-Benz ML represented the first time an import brand entered the newly emerging premium SUV category. Despite having earned a reputation for minivan-like styling and less-than-stellar build quality, the ML quickly became a sales success.

The ML also was known as a vehicle for soccer moms, an image Mercedes desperately tried to shake when introducing the 2nd generation ML in 2006. To do so, they made the ML 6-inches longer and 3-inches wider, while removing the available 3rd row seat option. The result was a more spacious cabin for adults. Additionally, they adorned the ML with a more angular, sporty design that has proven effective in attracting more male buyers.

In 2009, the ML underwent a mid-lifecycle freshening that consisted of a few subtle interior and exterior design updates. Unfortunately, engine enhancements were not part of the equation, as the ML350 is powered by an outdated and outgunned 3.5-liter V-6 that hasn't received any notable updates since 2006. It produces 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque, but it struggles to 60-mph in a sluggish 7.9 seconds.

The ML350 is available with RWD, or with 4MATIC AWD for an additional $2,500. 4MATIC's mechanically-based set-up limits power transfer to 70% at either axle in poor traction situations. And unlike xDrive, the system is incapable of proactively preventing understeer and/or oversteer situations.

The interior of the ML350 is nicely appointed, but criticism is often levied for its fussy, difficult-to-use electronic systems, including Navigation. This is due in large part to the lack of a centralized, iDrive-like controller.

BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz 

What's Hot About The BMW X5…

  • First engine in the world to combine turbocharging, Valvetronic and High Precision direct fuel injection
  • Inline 6-cylinder engine delivers smooth, refined power
  • TwinPower Turbo engine produces 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque
  • Broad torque curve supplying maximum power from an incredibly low 1200 rpm
  • 0 – 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, equaling the performance of the 2010 X5 xDrive48i's V-8 engine
  • 8-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission improves acceleration while reducing fuel consumption
  • 17 mpg city / 25 mpg highway
  • Brake Energy Regeneration only charges the battery when coasting or braking, saving 1-2% on fuel consumption
  • Standard Brake Stand-by and Brake Fade Compensation for improved braking
  • The X5 features 13.7-inch front brake rotors, and the rear discs are ventilated to improve cooling
  • xDrive is able to send 100% of power to the rear wheels, or 100% of the available power to the front wheels. xDrive can also proactively dial-out unwanted understeer and oversteer before they occur
  • 12 year Corrosion Warranty speaks to the high level of detail and quality craftsmanship that goes into every BMW
  • iDrive is standard on every X5 and it includes six Programmable Memory Keys and a 6.5-inch central display monitor
  • The X5 includes standard leather seating with the choice of 3 available wood trims or aluminum trim. Upgraded Nappa leather is also optional
  • The X5 audio system includes standard HD Radio and an iPod/USB adapter
  • Standard dual-panel Panoramic moonroof
  • The X5 features standard Xenon Adaptive headlights, Cornering Lights, LED taillights and Adaptive Brake Lights for added safety
  • Run-flat tires are standard
  • Every BMW is supported by the BMW Maintenance Program for 4 years / 50,000 miles
  • Maintenance intervals at approximately 15,000 miles or 12 months (whichever occurs first)
  • Heat-at-Rest is standard and 4-zone automatic climate control is optional
  • A power tilt/telescope steering column is standard, as is a driver's seat memory system
  • Head-up Display, Automatic High Beams and Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go are optional
  • Side View and Top View Cameras are optional
  • A 3rd row seat is optional and includes a self-leveling rear suspension and 3rd row climate controls
  • The X5's stellar handling and agility can be further enhanced with optional Active Steering, Active Roll Stabilization and Electronic Damping Control
  • Optional BMW Assist includes 4 years of service when purchased. TeleService is also included
  • An optional Active Ventilated Seat Package includes 20-way power multi-contour front seats with Active Support massage and ventilation.
  • Optional Navigation system includes an 8.8-inch display monitor and free Real-Time Traffic Information
  • A 12GB Music Collection is included with optional Navigation
  • The optional premium sound system includes 16 speakers

What's Not Hot About Mercedes-Benz ML350…

  • Powered by an engine that debuted in 2006, the ML relies on a larger 3.5-liter displacement to produce its power
  • V-6 engine creates more noise and vibration
  • Naturally aspirated engine produces only 268 horsepower, and 258 lb-ft of torque
  • Narrower torque curve that peaks at 2400 rpm (double the revs in the X5), resulting in poor acceleration
  • 0 – 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, making it one of the slowest vehicles in the segment.
  • 7-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission that delivers neither better acceleration, nor superior fuel economy
  • 15 mpg city / 20 mpg highway
  • The ML350's alternator constantly charges the battery, thereby wasting fuel
  • Brake Stand-by and Brake Fade Compensation are not available on the ML350
  • The ML350's features 13.0-inch front brake rotors, and the rear discs are solid
  • 4MATIC can only send 70% of power to the rear wheels or 70% to the front wheels. 4MATIC is also a reactive system that can only begin to help after understeer or oversteer situations occur
  • 4 year Corrosion Warranty speaks to a paint process that is substandard compared to BMW
  • A central controller is not available and a display monitor is only included with optional Navigation. PMK's are not available
  • MB-Tex vinyl is standard and only one wood trim choice is available. Leather is an option, but an upgraded leather interior is not available
  • HD Radio and an iPod/USB adapter are only available in as part of an option package
  • Standard single panel traditional moonroof
  • Xenon Adaptive headlights, Cornering Lights and LED taillights are optional. Adaptive Brake Lights are not available
  • Run-flat tires are not available
  • estimates it costs nearly $41/month to maintain the ML350 during the first 3 years of ownership
  • Maintenance intervals at 10,000 miles or 12 months (whichever occurs first)
  • Heat-at-Rest is not available, nor are rear seat automatic climate controls
  • Both a power tilt/telescope steering column and a driver's seat memory system are optional
  • Head-up Display, Automatic High Beams and Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go are not available
  • Side View and Top View Cameras are not available
  • A 3rd row seat is not available. Seating is limited to 5 passengers
  • The ML350 lacks the athleticism of the X5 and yet fails to offer Active Steering, Active Roll Stabilization or Electronic Damping Control
  • mbrace® is standard, but only includes 6 months of service free of charge. TeleService is not available
  • The ML350 features only 8-way power front seats that also include 4-way power lumbar support. Ventilated front seats and a massage function are not available
  • Optional Navigation features a 6.5-inch display and traffic information requires a monthly Sirius subscription
  • A 4GB music collection is optional
  • The optional premium sound system includes 11 speakers

 "The 2011 BMW X5 is one of the best-handling midsize luxury crossovers you can buy.

Whether driving on back roads or on an endless expanse of interstate, the X5 is a champ."

Irvine BMW proudly serves Orange County - including Aliso Viejo, Capistrano Beach, Dana Point, East Irvine, El Toro, Foothill Ranch, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, San Clemente, Lake Elsinore, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Juan Capistrano, Silverado and Trabuco Canyon.

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