Even Canadians are beginning to get diesel. The days of the noisy, smelly, and sluggish diesel engine are well in the past, as is well demonstrated by the 2014 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC. It’s not cheap but it’s excellent.
Its six–cylinder engine performs like a gas-guzzler’s eight. On the highways, it sips fuel like a maiden aunt at a Mormon tea-dance . . . at least compared to its gas-fueled competitors. I was regularly getting well under 10L/100km. Remember, that’s with the heavy 4MATIC all-wheel drive and heavy driver’s foot. It delivers more power than you’ll ever need in Canada: a thrilling 240hp@3,600rpm and a crazed rocketeer’s thrust of torque, 455@1,600–2,400 fl-lb. Zaftig!
I had it over 2013 Thanksgiving weekend and managed to put a lot of clicks on it, both, on highways where it delivered that superb mileage, and off-road where it delivered plenty of laughs through muddy fields.
Back on the roads: for an SUV, it’s surprisingly nimble, like those immense American football players who can dance their way around opponents. Part of that precision comes courtesy of the optional Sport Package. Riding on 20-inch AMG wheels, you enjoy magnificent gription. Though you’re in an SUV the suspension hangs low to the road, delivering superb feedback. But when you’re off-roading, it adjusts automatically to prevent any unpleasant grinding.
The difference in feel between the economy and sport modes, delivered with the touch of a button, is as profound as chalk and cheese.
The $800 safety package, euphemistically named ‘Driving Assistance’ (possibly because Volvo’s spent so many years hammering the word ‘safe’ home with all their marketing) included Passive Lane Keeping Assist and Passive Blind Spot Assist.
For an extra $5,900 this tester also included the Premium Package, a sizeable investment but the bling is first rate. Take the full parking package for easier mobility into tight spots: there’s parktronic technology, plus a 360-degree Surround View camera. And those heated rear seats instantly lulled passengers fighting the soporific effects of a boozy turkey dinner, despite the 14-speaker stereo blasting satellite and brilliant panoramic sunroof.
As for complaints about the cost? Diesels hold their value better than nearly anything on the roads these days. The converted get it.
Base Price: $61,400
As Driven: $72,350