While the headline looks like a new spin-off for the popular Law And Order television series, itís not.

But donít be surprised if the new addition to the Mercedes-Benz M-Class lineup attracts as much popularity as the TV show.

Why, youíre probably asking?

Well, because of the CDI engine that delivers uncompromising, fully capable SUV performance and ó this is the big ďandĒ ó and gets 27 mpg with a range of more than 600 miles for a single tank.

That's no typo. Twenty-seven miles per gallon in a five-passenger, full-time all wheel drive sport utility vehicle that delivers 215 horsepower and 398 lbs.-ft. of torque.

It goes. It tows. It does everything you would want a sport utility vehicle to do.

And, as you would expect from any Mercedes vehicle, it is absolutely loaded with safety and luxury features.

Yes, the 2007 ML320 CDI is powered by a diesel engine.


This is no ordinary diesel engine. Itís not only fuel-efficient, itís quiet, produces low exhaust emissions and if you took a ride in one, you would never know it was a diesel engine unless someone told you.

It is that quiet. It is that clean.

And boy, is it fun to drive.

Mated to a seven-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission, I have found the ML320 CDI to be absolutely flawless during my one-week test drive.

Letís talk safety.

Youíve got your full-time four-wheel drive. Youíve got your four-wheel traction control with brake and throttle intervention. Youíve got your electronic stability program with anti-lock brake system. When it comes to airbags, youíve got your dual-stage adaptive airbags for the driver and front seat passenger, door-mounted side airbags in the front and rear and curtain side airbags and adaptive belt tensioners belt force limiters.

Letís just say a lot of safety engineering has been devoted to the ML320 CDI ó not only to protect the driver and passengers in the event of an accident, but to keep you out of an accident to begin with.

As I mentioned earlier, the ML320 CDI is pretty plush ó as in lots of upscale luxury features. Just about anything you could imagine to have on a vehicle is available, either as standard equipment or as an optional accessory.

With a base price starting below $45,000, Mercedes delivers a lot of bang for the buck ó especially when you consider the fact that youíre getting a large, luxury SUV that gets 27 mpg.

For those in the luxury SUV segment, the 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI, manufactured at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., is highly recommended for a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at neal.white@waxahachiedailylight.com.