2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz is ramping up its BlueTEC-laden 'responsibility' platform with its new 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid model that's said to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 60% compared to its own ML550. Key to its efficiency is a two-mode hybrid system powered by a 3.5L Atkinson-type V-6 and a pair of twin electric motors. The motors are charged thanks to a 288 volt high-capacity nickel metal hydride battery system. Depending on driving conditions and speed, the ML450's complex computer control unit utilizes "system matching" to determine which mode to use to best enhance fuel economy. The SUV has the ability to run solely on its electric power, combustion engine, or a combination of both.

Together, the powertrain develops a healthy 335-hp and 381 lb-ft of torque and distributes its power to the 4MATIC all-wheel drive setup via an electric continuously variable transmission. The gearbox comes complete with three planetary gear sets and four clutches and allows for the near seamless transition between hybrid, electric, and gasoline drive modes. Mercedes-Benz officials claim their newest hybrid can get 21 mpg while perusing the city and 24 mpg while cruising on the highway. It can travel up to 520 miles on a single tank of fuel too. For comparison's sake, the new ML's combined 22 mpg fuel economy is 47% lower than the V-8 powered ML550.

In true Mercedes-Benz fashion, the ML450 Hybrid is replete with luxurious accommodations. Identical leather trimmings, COMAND infotainment, and other appointments found in the ML-Class range can be had in the hybrid version. Active and passive safety measures are also standard. As the new powertrain needs no extra room, all cargo and passenger space is maintained. No word on pricing, but don't expect it to come cheaper than the ML320 BlueTEC's current $48,600 price tag.