As you can see from the images of the new M-Class, the exterior design is not a radical departure. It only takes a glance to know that this is Mercedes' SUV, but there is something...different about its attitude. The lines are crisper, the overall look more muscular. With the third-generation M-Class, Mercedes has built on what buyers already liked about the sport/utility, and worked to make it better.

When the ML goes on sale in September it will be offered with two V-6 engines: the 3.5-liter gas or the 3.0-liter turbodiesel. Both achieve something that seemed impossible five to 10 years ago: They put out more power than before, and are more fuel-efficient. The gas engine has 302 horsepower, up 34, and 273 pound-feet, up 15. Its fuel economy is an estimated 17 city/22 highway, and both numbers are up by 2 mpg. It uses direct injection and new piezo injectors with a 2900 psi pressure.

The BlueTec turbodiesel six has been reworked, now putting out 240 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque, increases of 30 and 55, respectively, while fuel economy improves by 2 city mpg to an estimated 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway. The fuel economy improvements in the diesel can be attributed to a few key factors, including weight loss, and the use of AMG's twin-wire-arc spraying, a technology that reduces friction.

Both engines are now backed by a seven-speed automatic. Mercedes wouldn't comment on whether V-8 options would be available, but at one of the displays at the M-Class unveiling, there was a 408-horsepower, 4.6-liter direct injection twin-turbo V-8, much like the one in the S-Class. We also expect a hybrid to join the lineup.