2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Mercedes-Benz recently released the first images of its fully redesigned 2012 M-class. The M-Class is consistently among the German luxury brand's most popular models. The completely new M-class will go on sale in September, featuring completely new styling, revised engines and a host of new technology.

The most obvious change to the M-class is on the outside. A significant evolution over the outgoing model, the 2012 M-class has been updated with styling cues from the brand's most recent cars, from distinctive contour lines on the side to expressive front and rear fascias.

Big changes are coming under the hood. While Mercedes-Benz has only released specs for the European M-class, it's likely American models will share at least two engines: the ML350 Bluetec with a 258-horsepower turbodiesel V6 will replace the 210-horsepower unit in the outgoing model, and the traditional gas-powered ML350 will get a new direct-injection V6 with 306 horsepower in place of its old 268-horsepower engine. While there's no word on whether the ML450 Hybrid, V8-powered ML550, and monstrously quick ML63 AMG will make a comeback, Mercedes-Benz has announced that both revised engines will have 7-speed automatic transmissions.

Technology is another selling point of the redesigned M-class. Thanks to a partnership between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler, the M-class borrows the self-leveling suspension from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which Mercedes-Benz dubs "Airmatic." The automaker is also offering an "On&Offroad" package, which offers six different transmission modes to match driving conditions.

Inside, updated technology takes a backseat to a heavily revised cabin. Nearly every visible surface is updated, from the steering wheel to the dashboard controls to the doors. Even the air-conditioning vents are changed, trading the outgoing model's circular design for a more integrated look. Typical Mercedes-Benz high-tech gadgets appear throughout the interior, from a drowsiness detection system to a night-view monitor that automatically detects pedestrians. But perhaps the most exciting new gadget is the automaker's COMAND infotainment system, which Mercedes-Benz says now features internet access.

Details like pricing, color choices, and specs for US models are still under wraps – but with the 2012 M-class's release just a few months away, it's unlikely we'll have to wait long to learn more.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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