For those who think diesel is a dirty word, there's a clean version just around the corner. German auto maker Mercedes-Benz is a first to offer it in the U.S. as new federal emissions regulations, availability of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, and emerging diesel technologies blend to bring new power sources to American drivers.
2009 ML320 DIesel BlueTEC Interior
Europe (where vehicle fuel can cost double digit prices) long has favored diesels for their better performance and fuel economy. They've long been shunned in the States and ostracized in such places as smog-smothered California. Expect a change with the 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC diesel-powered SUV.
The heart of the system is a 3.0-liter, V-6 turbodiesel powerplant generating 210-HP, that uses an "AdBlue" exhaust treatment system M-B has been using in Europe. It's the kind of treatment expected to be on several competitive vehicles within months. The system uses a fine organic ammonia mist in the final exhaust phase to neutralize pollutants typically produced by diesel engines. (We assume BlueTEC refers to the blue color of the misting liquid.)
Beyond those more fuel efficient, less polluting underpinnings, the ML320 remains all Mercedes-Benz, filling the five-seat spot among the company's three BlueTEC M-B diesel SUVs. The ML320 BlueTEC produces extremely low exhaust emissions and has an estimated maximum range of 600 miles. Because of its clean diesel technology, it will be available in all 50 states.
M-B freshened this SUV for 2009, with a long list of functional and comfort/convenience amenities in addition to its innovative driving technology. Standard is M-B's PRE-SAFE safety system that senses an impending accident and "reacts" to protect occupants.
Pricing for the diesel is expected to start in the mid $40 K range. Fuel economy (seven-speed automatic only) is 18/24, about a 20 to 30 percent improvement according to company officials. (It may be lower if someone has the urge to test the 131-mph top speed.)