Even though it saw a litany of upgrades and changes for the 2012 model year, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class is no more expensive than the 2011 model. That means the 2012 ML350 starts at $49,865 (including an $875 destination charge), and the ML350 BlueTec diesel stickers from $51,365.

The gasoline-powered ML350 features a 3.5-liter V-6 engine producing 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, while the ML350 BlueTec diesel produces 240 hp and 455 lb-ft from a 3.0-liter common-rail diesel V-6. Both engines are coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive.

There are six option packages for either model. The Premium 1 package costs $3600 and includes a backup camera, auto-dimming mirrors, COMMAND navigation system, iPod input, Sirius satellite radio, and a 115-volt power outlet. The $5450 Premium 2 package builds on that list with heated and cooled cup holders, a harmon/kardon surround-sound system, keyless ignition, and ambient lighting.

For $5150, the Dynamic Handling package bundles Mercedes's Adaptive Damping system, Active Curve system, air suspension, and 20-inch five-spoke wheels. The $1290 Lighting package adds headlight washers, automatic high-beam control, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, and cornering lamps.

Two additional packages help drivers from scrunching the sheetmetal on their new SUV. The $850 Lane Tracking package consists of blind spot and lane keep assist. Finally, the $2950 Driver Assistance package nets Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe Brake, Active Blind Spot Assist, and Active Lane Keeping Assist.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class reaches dealerships this September

Source: Mercedes-Benz