Mercedes-Benz M Class Station Wagon 1998 - 2004

Mercedes-Benz M Class Station Wagon 1998 - 2004

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • One of the most prestigious 4x4s
  • Safe and comfortable
  • Good off-road ability despite the good looks


  • Ridiculously poor fuel economy
  • Inferior build quality


The Mercedes M-Class was designed for the North American market, where the competition in the SUV sector is fierce to say the least. It did remarkably well in the States and has found its own unique place in the European markets as well.

Exterior and Interior

The M-Class is one of the most prestigious 4x4s in the world. It is very tastefully built and it far from an ugly car. With its big grill showcasing the Mercedes badge it is not going to be hard to see the uaual design traits from Mercedes. As with all Mercedes the M-Class manages to provide a level of elegance that many of its competitors don't quite match and if that's your style, you're bound to like it. It is classed as a mid-size SUV and is a little narrower than the Land Rover Discovery and Jeep Grand Cherokee, but this is still a very comfortable car. The interior is attractive, unfortunately, the build quality both inside and out is not very high. Some bits will come loose eventually and this should be looked out for on the older cars.

Performance and Economy

The car won't make much sense for people looking for a utilitarian vehicle. Although it is a good off-roader and has plenty of boot space, in many cases the M-Class becomes more of a status symbol and less of a work horse. Whichever engine you choose, there will be enough power to get you going. Even the "basic" 3.2-litre engine can accelerate the car to 130mph. The smallest petrol engine can barely manage 21mpg and this goes down significantly when climbing up the power ladder. The 5.0-litre model will be around only return 18-19mpg at best. The most efficient engine is the 2.7-litre diesel managing a more reasonable 30mpg. Insuring an M-Class is expensive. The civilian diesel modification sits in group 38 whereas the flashy 5.5-litre AMG is placed in the uppermost 50 group alongside Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

Like to Drive

The M-Class is a body-on-frame car ‐ built the same way as the classic off-roaders. Because of that it has off-roading ability comparable to the Land Rover Discovery II. The M-Class is quite pleasant to drive. It's high price-tag is reflected in the comfort level, and handling is decent both on tarmac and on country roads, although there's a likelihood that you won't much enjoy driving it in a city due to its size. Through mud and snow it is much more capable than Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 and does enough to keep us with some of the Land Rovers, although if you want an out and out off road performer you would still be better choosing a Land Rover. If it is off-road activities you're looking for then you'll enjoy driving the diesel. With 370Nm of torque, the M-Class will pull you out of just about any situation. It can also tow a 3.4-ton trailer, no mean feat for a 4x4 vehicle.

Faults and Repairs

Where do we begin? Let's start with the fact that it took the DaimlerChrysler Corporation $0.6 billion to bring the car up to a decent standard when in 2005 it was decided to significantly upgrade the car. Many parts have been tossed together without affixing them properly, thus some little things will go wrong constantly. Nothing too serious though, it is still a Mercedes and the engines and transmissions are superb. The car has also had several recalls, so before buying a used M-Class check that the car you are looking at has undergone all the recall repairs. Even though the car is notorious for its poor build quality, serious breakages are relatively rare. However, when something goes wrong, the repair bill often reaches four digits. It's not cheap to run and maintain and if you simply want a good off-roader, choose something else. If though you are looking for an executive 4x4 that is full of gadgets, comfort and luxury then this could be the right choice for you.