Is ML a good off-roader?





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  1. #1
    Riaan Pienaar Guest

    Default Is ML a good off-roader?

    I'm seriously thinking of buying a Mercedes ML and need the advice of the many guys out there who know the vehicles. My price range is R130 000 to R160 000, so I shall probably not find the 164 model with the lifting air suspension. Is the 163 model suitable for off-road work, especially sand and what are the weak points that I should look out for? Is the 270 diesel good for more than 150 000 kilos? Are some models better for off-road work or do they all fall within the catagory of "soft-roader"? What is the consumption of the 320 and 350 petrol engines?

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    Main downside is low ground clearance and the traction control in place of a diff lock means that rock crawling is not great.
    Apart from that they are great off road especially in sand, but there are some differences between the models you need to be aware of:
    - the 163 is on a ladder frame, 164 monocoque, so a bit tougher and better suited to towing
    - you wont get a 164 for your budget
    - not all 163 have low range, mostly the earlier ones do (better for off road)
    - the 163 and ML in general have electrical issues and the diesel is apparently the worst. If you are going to buy one, make sure all the keys work, the ac works properly, the central locking works properly and the windows all work. Any of these will be big $$ to fix
    - consumption on my wife's 320 varies from 12-18l/100 averaging around 15 in town or loaded to go away
    - the motors and mechanicals of the 163 are pretty bulletproof
    - check out benzworld.org for more info

    My wife may be selling hers shortly- she has lost confidence in it after a series of breakdowns that ended up being the Tracker relay that switches the fuel pump. We have a small baby and she wont take the chance. Its a pity because I have invested some time in understanding and appreciating these machines... and to replace it with similar functionality will be big $$$$

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    hi Riaan

    to quote from Brian:

    - not all 163 have low range, mostly the earlier ones do (better for off road)
    - the 163 and ML in general have electrical issues and the diesel is apparently the worst. If you are going to buy one, make sure all the keys work, the ac works properly, the central locking works properly and the windows all work. Any of these will be big $$ to fix
    - consumption on my wife's 320 varies from 12-18l/100 averaging around 15 in town or loaded to go away
    - the motors and mechanicals of the 163 are pretty bulletproof
    - check out benzworld.org for more info

    i have a 2000 320, i am really happy with it, i bought it in Jan 2010 with 142000km on and have since done 9000km.
    the electrics were all fine until oneday the central locking got confused, some knobs pop up while others go down, took it to Mercedes and they replaced the master drivers door locking mechanism, it has lots of electrical micro switches in and these packed up, R3500 later, the problem is solved.

    an A service was 2000 bucks in april, not bad considering the volume of oil the vehicle takes.

    fuel consumption in line with Brians, you looking at best case 7.5km/l, 90% of the long distance i get 7km/l and in town it does come down to 6km/l.

    i do drive it hard so that might be a reason.

    i have done 3 different sand 4x4 routes with it. not once gotten stuck.

    always make sure you have one with the ESP off switch on the dash, some of the first units did not have the switch, meaning you cannot deactivate the traction control, so you remain still in sand with no forward movement.

    so yes, make sure it is capable of deactivating the ESP.

    otherwise, i have had no electrical or mechanical problems besides a fuse blowing for the power socket under the dash due to my plug on the pump i plugged in being dodgy. since then no problem.

    ground clearance in the sand was adequate, i competed the routes together with hiluxes and other bakkies so i was happy.

    mine does have low range, switch next to the radio. i have used it in sand to get out of sticky situations were bushes/trees were threatening to scratch and turning was difficult, but low range made it a breeze to get out.

    i have after 3 routes not lost a signle piece of plastic, my friends always joked the ml with come home with a boot full of tupperware, BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

    i find it an incredibly well built vehicle with no rattles. and reliable, starts every time even standing outside since i got her.

    ideally i would love the 430, only made for a limited period, but i cant find one without the panoramic roof
    STAY AWAY FROM THE PANORAMIC ROOF.

    mercedes no longer sells parts and they break all the time. mercedes now glues them shut and thats the end of it.

    the 320's all seem to have a normal glass sunroof which is bulletproof and parts readily available.

    hope you find one with low KM, they are great vehicles.
    Last edited by stromtrooper; 2010/05/25 at 02:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riaan Pienaar View Post
    Is ML a good off-roader?
    No.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkie View Post
    No.
    If you want to climb trees and dongas - no!

    If you want something that will comfortably take you to places off the beaten track where you require four wheel drive and maybe lowrange every once in a while - nothing wrong with it. It all depends on your expectations - i.e. what you want to do with it!
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    The way I understood the question is whether an ML is good off road. Dirt road is still road. Going up Sani for instance, is still road, and an ML will do that. Off road is exactly that, there is no road, for the need of a better description, and my most humble of apologies to all the other offroaders who don't drive them, "Jeep tracks" start being offroad. Animal tracks are offroad.

    "Is ML a good off-roader"

    No.


    How-ever....if you want to use it for a comfortable runabout, and occasionally leave the tar without any serious thoughts of going on a 4x4 safari, an ML will suite your needs. In sand they are not bad, except that with the low-profile tyres you cannot deflate as far as is normally needed in very dry sand (0.6 - 0.8 bar), and the middle mannetjie will catch the bottom of your vehicle. This is somewhat less of a problem if you have an adjustable air suspension.
    Last edited by Sakkie; 2010/05/25 at 03:42 PM. Reason: Trying to be more tactful....sorry doesn't come naturally
    Sakkie Coetzee

    Some people say I have a "short temper"....I see it as swift and assertive reaction to Bull!

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    Default Please Explain

    Hi Riaan,

    Could you please explain what you concider to be off roading.

    As you can see the phrase is, but shouldnt be, somewhat ambigious.

    A better understaning of your requirement will go a long way towards getting decent answers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stromtrooper View Post
    i have a 2000 320, i am really happy with it, i bought it in Jan 2010 with 142000km on and have since done 9000km.
    Can I ask what you paid? Mine is a 2000 with 158 on the clock

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    To me it falls into the category of softroaders with lower gearing.. you might enjoy yourself on a track with a couple of X-trail guys..

    As said previously, good in sand.. I have no experience with this vehicle under these conditions.

    Edit: Changed wording..
    Last edited by Willied; 2010/05/25 at 06:24 PM.


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    Mmm...Riaan

    I`m no expert, but I saw a brand new ML at Melkbos 4x4, which is a Micky Mouse track scraping its underbelly on very shallow dips where Disco`s, a Hilux and my Hardbody went through easy.

    Sakkie makes a good argument.

    Hourses for courses I say.



    I reckon depends what you want to do with it.

  11. #11
    Riaan Pienaar Guest

    Default Is ML a good off-roader?

    Thank you, guys - you've given me a lot of food for thought. The more I look around, the more I realise that all 4x4 have their problems. I've been driving Land Rovers for 20 years, the last 6 years Disco's and I sold the Disco 2 Td5 last year because of reliability problems. Now I miss it a lot and my wife complains that she sits too low in the E240! Maybe I should just go back to a Disco and face the music.
    Fluffy, sorry, I should have been more specific. I'm too old for climbing mountains and the real serious stuff. All I want to do is to be able to do some dune driving and tracks such as the ones to Mabuasehube and Savuti and to drive on bad gravel roads without too much worrying. And I want to use low range when I feel like it.

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    Riaan,

    If that is your requirement and if a vehicle like the ML appeals to you, then the ML with air suspension will do the job for you. And so would the Touareg (with air suspension) and the Disco 3/4. (and many others for that matter)
    Bite off more than you can chew - then chew!

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    If you do not mind looking at something else the Touareg gets a good rating from a couple of people I know.. Good power and lifts nice and high for mud and other obstacles..


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    The question "Is a ML a good Offroader" should read "Is a ML a good Softroader". I certainly would not take one on Baboons Pass or the Kao Road in Lesotho, if it can't shape there it is not an offroader. Rather stick to Cruisers, Patrols, Defenders etc. if you like real 4x4.

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    Its a 4 wheel drive SUV, developed for european weather conditions. Its not a 4x4.
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    Default Touareg

    Hi,

    The Touareg with offroad Traction Control, centre diff lock, rear diff lock, low range, Hill descent, Hill hold and air suspension and smaller rims is actually quite capable OFFROAD, especially the lighter R5 or TDV6.

    Problem is you probably wont get one for R160K.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riceburner View Post
    Its a 4 wheel drive SUV, developed for european weather conditions. Its not a 4x4.
    Unless it has the (expensive) off-road package.

    Then it has low range, good ground clearance (at the high setting), diff-lock, ascent and descent assist and many more features that makes off-road driving possible and even easy.

    If it breaks in the middle of nowhere, you will probably have to wait a long time for a part from SA or the USA (Appaloosa?). The same is true for a new Prado, an LC 200, a Range Rover etc, except that the part will come from Japan or England.


    Close to home with the off-road package it is probably as good as most, NOT counting Defenders, LC 70's or Wranglers.

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    I would love to see a report from Arrie once he has taken his GL offroad. I think the only limit to a W164 ML equipped with the offroad package will be the owner.

    Mercedes know how to build 4x4 vehicles and have a proud history when you look back at icons like the Unimog and Gelandewagen. Will the W163 be a good offroader? Probably once you fit bigger diameter tyres and rocksliders (Like you would have to on almost all modern high end 4X4's).

    The best thing about the ML class is the on-road comfort, after all this is where you will spend upwards of 95% of the time in the vehicle. My ML murders most vehicles on the road with such grace and poise it is difficult to believe you are in a 2.5ton 4X4.

    I don't need a kidney belt or two days to get to Cape Town yet I have the confidence to travel off the beaten track, what more could you want?
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    The Mog and the G wagen had Solid coil sprung axels and were built for offroad use. I cant see how a IFS Ml with a roofrack and gear will handle the roads in Bots and Nam, unless you drive very fast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riceburner View Post
    The Mog and the G wagen had Solid coil sprung axels and were built for offroad use. I cant see how a IFS Ml with a roofrack and gear will handle the roads in Bots and Nam, unless you drive very fast.
    Ditto.

    If you did tackle the roads at speed, you WILL bend all your rims. Ask the owners of the Pathfinders. They will tell you.
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