Diesel. The word alone has developed a negative connotation in our society. Many people associate diesel with being crude, smelly, loud, and rough enough to bounce you right out of your seat. In their most basic form, these engines can certainly be all of those things. But, diesel machinery has come a very long way since being lifted from industrial vehicles such as airplanes, ships, and the stinky semi trucks we all curse for hogging up the highway. In fact, it offers many benefits that cannot be reaped from a typical gasoline engine. With recent technological advances, the average person might have a hard time making a distinction between the two.
In many ways, diesel engines can actually be superior to their gasoline counterparts. For starters, they are about 20 percent more fuel efficient than comparable gas engines. Diesel motors have higher compression ratios than gasoline engines, which means they can afford a leaner air/fuel ratio and require less fuel to make the same amount of power. Diesels are also more reliable than gas-powered vehicles and require less maintenance. They are not as complicated, meaning there are fewer things that can malfunction, and they are also built stronger to withstand the higher compression ratios; it is not uncommon for them to run for 250,000 to 300,000 miles before encountering major issues. Finally, while diesels create less high-rpm horsepower, they more than make up for it with massive amounts of low-end torque. You know that tingly feeling in your spine when you mash the accelerator and get sucked backwards into your seat? That’s torque in action. There is a common misconception that horsepower is what provides quick acceleration, when in reality torque plays a larger role. Horsepower is important in some scenarios, but because torque comes into play at lower rpm’s, it is much more usable for everyday driving. This low-end grunt allows diesels to accelerate and tow heavy loads with ease.
Mercedes-Benz has long understood and appreciated the benefits of using diesel, and they are no newcomer to this segment of the market. In fact, in 1936 they became the first manufacturer to place a diesel into a production car. With over 75 years of experience and testing, it should come as no surprise that Mercedes-Benz is at the forefront of diesel technology.
Their advanced BlueTEC system in all 2013 models uses a chemical called AdBlue to eliminate the dangerous emissions which have plagued diesels in the past. By converting nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and water vapors, BlueTEC has turned diesel technology into an environmentally-friendly option. Mercedes-Benz has four 2013 BlueTEC vehicles which all sport the same 3.0-Liter turbodiesel V-6 and 7-speed automatic transmission, with various stages of tuning for the different applications.
The smallest of the group is the E350 BlueTEC, which is the spiritual descendent of the loud, yet indestructible diesels that made Mercedes-Benz popular in the 70’s and 80’s. It retains the impressive fuel economy of its predecessor; at 22mpg city and 32mpg highway, this car sips less fuel than many four cylinder gasoline competitors. Horsepower comes in at a modest 210, but a tire-shredding 400 ft-lbs of torque at just 1600 rpms gives plenty of passing power for those who are concerned. Of course, a plush interior full of leather and wood comes standard, and many state-of-the-art options are available.
The flagship S350 BlueTEC is a step up in size and trim-level from the E350, and offers several added unique features. It utilizes the same 3-Liter turbodiesel mill, tuned up to 240 horsepower and a whopping 455 lb-ft of torque. While the S350 is larger and more spacious, fuel economy suffers a minimal hit, with city mileage coming in at 21mpg and highway at 31mpg. The combination of Mercedes-Benz’s acclaimed 4MATIC all-wheel drive system and AIRMATIC semi-active suspension system with active damping guarantees supreme control and confidence under any driving conditions. Think of the S350 as the E350’s more handsome older brother.
In the mid-size SUV category, there are not many better options than the ML350 BlueTEC. With the standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, 455lb-ft of torque, AGILITY CONTROL suspension system, adaptive braking technology, and trailer stability assist, there is not much that this vehicle cannot handle. Whether it’s a quick offroad blast or a trip to the grocery, the ML350 is sure to keep its passengers comfortable and safe. Fuel economy is an impressive 20mpg city and 28mpg highway, and its 600-plus mile cruising range offers more road-trip options than ever before. Visually, the 2013 model has been totally redesigned, and quells the complaints many people had about the angular, boxiness of the previous generation. The ML350 now looks and performs like the three-pointed star belongs on its hood.
The GL350 BlueTEC is the big dog of the group. With seven seats, it is one of the classiest kid-haulers that money can buy. 4MATIC all-wheel drive is standard, along with the AIRMATIC air suspension system, adaptive braking technology, trailer stability assist, and the same 455lb-ft of torque which allows a 7,500lb towing capacity. Fuel efficiency is surprisingly high for and SUV of its size and weight; city mileage is rated at 19mpg and highway mileage at 26mpg. For perspective, these figures are about 5mpg better than comparable V-8 SUV’s… With a cruising range of over 600 miles, odds are that one of your kids will have to stop for something before it does.
Cutting-edge technology, reliability, longevity, ultra-low emissions, 4-cylinder efficiency, V-8 power, and a level of refinement and luxury unique to the Mercedes-Benz name. If these traits sound appealing, look no further… The 2013 BlueTEC lineup is your best bet.