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Old 05-18-2009, 11:14 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Mercedes Benz Blue Tech Diesel Report

Hi:
I am new to the whole towing a trailer experience. I did drive Semi truck and city bus for about six years when I was younger, much younger. I bought my first Airstream or trailer of any sort this spring and immediately took off for a month and 7000 miles. The 23 ft. Safari handled and does handle spectacularly behind the Mercedes ML 320. I did have a hitch with stabalizers installed, and of course a trailer brake system, the car has a tow rating of 7200 pounds. We went through mountains in NM and AZ, some called mountains in TX, but not real big in any case, all through the desert areas, and only once did I have a concern. We hit thirty mile per hour winds from the side with lots of semi traffic and when we either passed or were passed by semi's, the side push was a bit dramatic.
The car pulls the trailer on the interstate at a steady 70 with power to pass when needed, and with the seven speed transmission, it will find a gear to climb any hill. The best part is the minimum of 12 miles per gallon average on the interstate, with more like 15 mpg when going 60 ish. Even better is the 26 mpg without the trailer, the comfort of the car, and ultimately the price. I leased it for 80 dollars per month more than a Toyota 4 runner. For those of you with a smaller trailer, certainly a vehicle to look at. Especially in these days of low sales, there are some great deals out there. I am not trying to start a debate, just report my experiences. The only change I would make in our set up, is to get the air shock upgrade, while the tail is level with the trailer, I think the air shocks would add even better feel to the experience of towing my airstream. (affectionately know as Wilma (car has female voice on gps) and Fred-the big boy following Wilma around. Just trying to provide information and options to the forums.
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Old 05-21-2009, 06:19 PM   #2
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Hi:
I leased it for 80 dollars per month more than a Toyota 4 runner. For those of you with a smaller trailer, certainly a vehicle to look at.
The Benz ML 320 has an excellent reputation as a TV for Airstreams and the Toy 4 runner has a dismal reputation. I would say you made the right choice.

A couple years ago we traveled with folks who had a ML 320 GASSER and they were very satisfied with the way it towed their newish 25'.
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:39 AM   #3
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Thumbs up MBenz tow vehicle

I am very happy with the vehicle, I expect when the lease expires, I will get another one, probably with the air shock system. Of course, in three years we may decide to go full time, and then we will need a trailer that will out size the capacities of the Mercedes. If you are 25 feet or less, I highly recommend a hard look at it.
Thanks for the support and feedback.
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:52 PM   #4
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Mercedes for decades has had a near flawless reputation and stellar performance in diesels. Of that I have no question having had three in our family. I do however question the wheelbase for RVs or trailers larger than around 23 feet. The wheelbase, regardless of what technologies are added to a vehicle cannot overcome certain physics inherent in towing.

I would fully enjoy this SUV, but perhaps be the only voice of caution with going with a larger trailer. Of course if I were from Canada, I'd have zero reservations and in fact might also suggest you get a Dodge Intrepid and take the rear wheels off when towing as well.
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:25 AM   #5
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We have a 2008 Mercedes ML 320 CDI and just concluded a trip across the West after purchasing a 2008 Safari SE 27FB in Colorado. The little Mercedes never struggled or lost legal speed on an uphill grade. We crossed summits at Monarch Pass (US 50, 11,300'), Lizard Head Pass (CO 145, 10,200'), every summit in eastern Utah between Monument Valley and Moab and on US 50 across Nevada, CA 89 from Tahoe to Lassen, US 199 along the Smith River from Grants Pass to the coast, and the length of US 101 along the Oregon coast. Once adjusted correctly, the rig handled wonderfully. I found correct tire pressure in the trailer tires (65 psi) to be critical to precise handling. Our mileage in mountainous terrain was 14.5 to 15mpg; 17-18 on the flat. The Benz is comfortable and quiet. We used an Equal-i-zer hitch and a Prodigy brake controller. I did not encounter any troubles which might be attributed to unibody vs. body on frame or to short wheelbase. The only issue I discovered with the smaller tow vehicle is rear visibility. Even with mirror extension, a good rearward view is only possible in turns. I plan to investigate using a camera to get a good view to the rear. Any suggestions?
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:43 AM   #6
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I had the same mirror problem towing with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The McKish mirors wouldn't go out quite far enough. I made some longer arms, which solved the problem and gave me a great view. I still have a couple of them available, If you are interested, PM me.

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Old 05-29-2009, 01:08 PM   #7
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Might consider the GL wheelbase

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie View Post
Mercedes for decades has had a near flawless reputation and stellar performance in diesels. Of that I have no question having had three in our family. I do however question the wheelbase for RVs or trailers larger than around 23 feet. The wheelbase, regardless of what technologies are added to a vehicle cannot overcome certain physics inherent in towing.

I would fully enjoy this SUV, but perhaps be the only voice of caution with going with a larger trailer. Of course if I were from Canada, I'd have zero reservations and in fact might also suggest you get a Dodge Intrepid and take the rear wheels off when towing as well.
This vehicle is having great success with the Blue-tec combination. In fact, if it wasnt for the diesels we might not be selling much right now. In regards to wheelbase. The ML that you are describing has a wheelbase of 114.7 inches while the GL option has 121.1 inches. This vehicle has a different feel more like a suburban.

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Old 05-31-2009, 11:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by vlamica View Post
This vehicle is having great success with the Blue-tec combination. In fact, if it wasnt for the diesels we might not be selling much right now. In regards to wheelbase. The ML that you are describing has a wheelbase of 114.7 inches while the GL option has 121.1 inches. This vehicle has a different feel more like a suburban.

Vin
Vin: I have the ML 320 CDI with air suspension and factory hitch towing a Safari 27 FB. Our first trip is described above. There were no handling issues once correct tire pressure in the trailer was set. Power was no problem. I weighed in once and found GVW for the TV at the max, and the trailer weight well below GVW rating. What steps would you recommend to reduce the load on the TV?
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:02 AM   #9
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Thanks, Gents. I did have the hitch welds done, but I might consider extra reinforcement. I know I'm being fooled by the air suspension and will have to weigh each axle under load to make the weight distribution adjustments. The rig handles so well in normal driving I'm lulled into thinking it is balanced; when it isn't! My Utah weigh-in showed the TV carrying more of the combined weight than it should (TV 6420, RV5540). I wonder if I should also try weighing the tongue itself next time so that I can work that into the equation?

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Old 06-03-2009, 07:47 AM   #10
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dpulling, about your fuel mileage: You report 17 to 18 mpg on the flats and 14.5 to 15 mpg in the mountains while pulling your 27-foot Safari.

These are in the best-of-class category!

Did you calculate these results by hand, or did they come from a vehicle readout?

Were these results from multiple tank refills in each situation, or just one?

Does the engine have the diesel particulate filters that have to use fuel to clear them periodically like the new American diesels have?

Thanks for the info. It's always interesting to see what the new vehicles are achieving.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:27 AM   #11
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Thumbs up MB320 Diesel- tire pressure

DPulling et al:
I agree, correct tire pressure made a difference. It also included higher pressure in the rear wheels of the TV, as recommended on the doors. I do not have the air shock system, but will on the next one. I have not done a detailed weight, but am using the equalizer hitch and Prodigy brake system. In many cases, the balance on the tongue is such that I do not have to lift the hitch with the power jack to tighten the arms, most times I need to, but not always. Again, making sure the tires are well inflated to recommendations, and towing a 23 ft. safari SE makes this a dream vehicle. I have three bad disks in my lower back, and doing 7000 miles in a month had it feeling better than it had in a long time. Testimony to the car and the trailer both.
Thanks for all the feedback from everyone. My wife and I and our two cats love the setup and have spent 70 of our first 110 days of ownership in the trailer. The number of people who have asked about the setup and trailer is amazing.
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:02 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Airstreamer67 View Post
dpulling, about your fuel mileage: You report 17 to 18 mpg on the flats and 14.5 to 15 mpg in the mountains while pulling your 27-foot Safari.

These are in the best-of-class category!

Did you calculate these results by hand, or did they come from a vehicle readout?

Were these results from multiple tank refills in each situation, or just one?

Does the engine have the diesel particulate filters that have to use fuel to clear them periodically like the new American diesels have?

Thanks for the info. It's always interesting to see what the new vehicles are achieving.
Airstreamer 67 - At this point my mileage quotations are based on observed trip meter readouts, but I aim to do the calculations and will report them. I used 8 or 10 tanksfull on the trip, so there is plenty of data. The "on the flat" quote might be a bit optimistic. There hardly were any flats on the trip (the longest might have been on a slight downhill grade near Four Corners/Mexican Hat) and no single tankful included only flatlands. But the 14.5 figure showed up repeatedly in mountainous territory. I do not have the Bluetech which uses urea to neutralize nitrous oxide. I have the 46 state version with a particulate filter that requires a special Mobil 1 (ESP) oil to keep it clean.

The MB diesel is only 3.0 liters, but it has loads of torque (398 ft/lbs). The engine efficiency, plus the 7 speed transmission, plus slick body shape must account for the good mileage. There is a new BMW 3.0 diesel that is even more potent.
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by slpiotro View Post
DPulling et al:
I agree, correct tire pressure made a difference. It also included higher pressure in the rear wheels of the TV, as recommended on the doors. I do not have the air shock system, but will on the next one. I have not done a detailed weight, but am using the equalizer hitch and Prodigy brake system. In many cases, the balance on the tongue is such that I do not have to lift the hitch with the power jack to tighten the arms, most times I need to, but not always. Again, making sure the tires are well inflated to recommendations, and towing a 23 ft. safari SE makes this a dream vehicle. I have three bad disks in my lower back, and doing 7000 miles in a month had it feeling better than it had in a long time. Testimony to the car and the trailer both.
Thanks for all the feedback from everyone. My wife and I and our two cats love the setup and have spent 70 of our first 110 days of ownership in the trailer. The number of people who have asked about the setup and trailer is amazing.

Yes, I have the same experience with the hitch arms. It makes me wonder if I need to adjust tension on the arms (raise the brackets) to distribute more weight. I also have had the same experience in campgrounds; the most frequent comment: "how can that little thing tow that big trailer?"
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:38 AM   #14
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Airstreamer 67:

The calculated mileage turns out better than I estimated. For the entire 2847 mile trip across Rockies, Sierras and Siskyous, the Mercedes ML 320 CDI averaged 16.6 MPG towing the Airstream 27FB. Best mileage - Telluride, CO to Moab, UT: 19.94 MPG. Worst mileage - Grants Pass, OR to Newport, OR: 14.87 MPG.
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