I have a 2000 ML430, Skyview roof, third-row seating, privacy glass, premium
sound, navigation, leather, and not a single problem. Zip. Just a nice
smooth ride that also climbs like a goat. I especially like the trim body
and generous headroom -- makes it great for traffic and maneuvering in and
around city streets with a sense of space and comfort inside.
I've driven it on ocean beaches where the water was to the doorsills, taken
it skiing in sub-zero mountain temperatures, loaded it full of people and
gear while pulling a 30-foot speedboat over rough terrain, and it never
failed me. I originally was going for an ML55, but the ML430 had more cargo
room and nearly as much torque for towing. The Skyview roof sold me -- I've
enjoyed every minute behind the wheel.
Quality has improved through the model years. Of course each model year has
had its share of quirky problems, but the last several have been no worse
than any other MB model. You do have to realize that the ML is not a luxury
sedan, but a truck that has to be capable off-road, comfortable on-road,
safe, and offer all the "sport" and "utility" expected of a midsized SUV. I
really like my ML320. I am not sure there is another SUV on the market that
would meet my needs any better. I have had some problems with mine, but
they are nothing terribly serious. My main complaint is the dealer's
inability to resolve any of them.
I wouldn't hesitate to buy another ML if I were to replace mine. I've
enjoyed it, and I haven't had a single warranty issue come up.
If there is a severe ML depreciation, it's more likely because the used-car
market has taken a hard hit from the factory incentives, zero financing, and
dealer rebates over the last couple of years. Where I live, there are
literally thousands of BMWs sitting around, at a fraction of the Blue Book
value, and they can't give them away. MBs less so, most of the popular
models are hard to find (E430, ML430, etc.) People are buying new around
here, if they buy at all. Trade-in values suffer because dealers can't move
the used cars they get as trade-ins on new ones. Used cars sit six months
or longer at reduced prices before the dealers wholesale them out, for a
fraction of the book value.
Anyone wanting an ML would find this market to be a total bargain for a good
light all-around sport truck.
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