Automotive History Mercedes W163 (19982005 MClass) – Conceived…

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Mercedes-Benz ML 320 W163

Automotive History: Mercedes (1998-2005 M-Class) – Conceived in Born In America

October 6,

In order of appearance, the four I photographed for this article are 1999, 2001, and 2003

Befitting of German-American Heritage we celebrate the first non-commercial made in the U.S.A. the 1998 While not the first German car in America, the M-Class is significant in the very concept of it was uncharted for Mercedes. Designed from the up, a civilian-oriented SUV was a totally new type of for the manufacturer. Mercedes’ choice to produce vehicle in the U.S. was quite a gamble that unfortunately subsequent generations to earn a worthy of the Mercedes-Benz name.

accepting the state of Alabama’s subsidy package of over million, Mercedes-Benz began on its first automobile plant in the in 1993. Mercedes-Benz U.S. (MBUSI), as it is called, was not the first plant in either of the Americas. had been building commercial in Argentina since the 1950s, and was opening plants in Mexico the same time.

The Mexican plants specialized in assembly, component production, as as full-production of cars. These were sold only in markets, however. MB had also commercial trucks in Virginia in the 1970s. MBUSI was the first plant that would be the production facility for a global car worldwide.

MBUSI’s first vehicle, a 1998 ML320, off the assembly line in February Sales of the M-Class commenced in of that year.

Despite all the build quality and reliability of early M-Classes (or W163 to loyalists) was notoriously poor. can be exemplified from a 1998 of Top Gear. where Jeremy was able to fit his fingers between the wide gab between the rear and the body.

Interiors of the early models also subpar for a Mercedes-Benz. plastics, cheesy-looking fake door trim, and lack of expected luxury features as automatic climate control among its shortcomings.

The M-Class scored last place in a Power quality survey. In of this, the M-Class sold well in the United States. timing was spot-on in the booming SUV segment.

The M-Class was unique, in it was intentionally designed as a luxury SUV the get go. Most other SUVs by luxury brands at the time gussied up versions of more vehicles. These included the SLX, Infiniti QX4, LX, Lincoln Navigator, and Mercedes’ own

The Lexus RX was released around the time as the M-Class. While it too was as a luxury vehicle, it was based on a car platform, and didn’t provide the capability as the body-on-frame M-Class.

Although it scored low in quality and the W163 did get high safety It was the first SUV with standard stability control and side-impact Crash test results good, with the IIHS it a “Best Pick”. From my I remember this “Stayin’ Alive for the M-Class, highlighting its safety.

Mercedes-Benz ML 320 W163

The was produced through the 2005 year. While quality was as impeccable as buyers had come to from Mercedes-Benz, they efforts to improve it to less levels by the end of its run.

For the 2000 year, M-Classes were an interior makeover, replacing of the much-criticized surfaces with quality materials and real trim.

A more significant occurred in 2002, which over 1,100 new parts to the overhaul included further and interior enhancements, especially on ML500 models.

My personal experience with the is limited to exploring it at auto (that’s me above, dreaming of ownership in 1998), my several car of it, and occasionally riding in one as a child. good family friends a new M-Class that I vividly I’m almost certain it was a 2000 In addition to being the first I ever rode in, it was also the car I ever rode in with a system. Pretty cool then!

One thing I distinctly was how awkward the rear seating was (at least for a 4-foot tall 2nd If you notice in the photo, the rear bottoms are especially long. The bottoms extended further out the back of my knees. Given our friends were 6-footers, the front seats moved aft, it made for a very seating position.

Regardless of quality issues and seats, I liked the W163 as a kid, and still do now. appearance still looked while not being as utilitarian as SUVs like it G-Class. succeeding generations, build and reliability have greatly to levels worthy of its big 3-pointed The second generation W164 was an improvement in quality, as well as and technology.

The current W166 (2011-present) brought a host of refinement, as well as a powerful of style. It happens to be one of my favorite new on the market, and for what its worth, I did for it when my mom was purchasing her GLK this summer. I naturally lost, as the ML was bigger and more expensive what she needed and could

The W163′s legacy lives on, not in the current W166. In addition to the MBUSI now produces the world’s of GL-Classes, as well as the R-Class is no longer sold in the U.S). assembly is reportedly scheduled to there in 2014, as well as an TBA vehicle. So for better or worse, to the W163, the first Mercedes in America!

Mercedes-Benz ML 320 W163
Mercedes-Benz ML 320 W163

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