There was a time when large SUVs were graded on their ability to haul heavy loads over treacherous mountain passes or traverse deserts without succumbing to the elements. Now, they’re built to be seamless, silent, cavernous carriages for the social and domestic pleasure of the middle class, and the Mercedes M-Class is no different. This means that, inside, they must exude an ambience worthy of Blohm & Voss.

Despite representing the entry-level M-Class experience, the ML 250 gets the lifestyle trick about right. It lacks the aloof, art deco spectacle of a Range Rover and the implied sportiness of a Cayenne, but Mercedes’ solemn architecture and sober colour schemes make the ML purposeful enough to compete.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The column stalks are a replacement for ones that feel like they’ve been around for an age. The left-hand one covers the wipers, high beam and indicators

The switchgear’s familiar DNA has also been scaled up to SUV size rather well, helped no end by a dashboard that bulges with broad-shouldered presence and attractive trim stitching.

Doubtless, the three-pointed star on a particularly splendid steering wheel helps to put you in the right egotistical frame of mind, and the front seats’ endless adjustability ensures that the driver can choose between perching in the crow’s nest or hunkering down.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    First Drive
    New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen...
  • Audi S7 TDI 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    Latest warmed five-door fastback ditches petrol for Audi’s surprisingly...
  • Audi SQ5 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    High-performance soft-roader adopts new sporty V6 diesel mild-hybrid power,...

There’s 34mm more elbow room up front, but with one arm habitually perched on the elevated centre console, it’s the 25mm increase in the rear that is probably of more use. Mercedes doesn’t equip the ML with a properly formed centre seat, but there’s still plenty of room to play taxi to a third rear passenger.

Plenty of room for luggage, too: the boot is bigger than a Cayenne’s or an X5’s, and with the seats lowered to reveal 2010 litres of floor-to-ceiling space, its clutter capacity is only eclipsed by the Range Rover Sport and Audi Q7.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    First Drive
    New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen...
  • Audi S7 TDI 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    Latest warmed five-door fastback ditches petrol for Audi’s surprisingly...
  • Audi SQ5 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    High-performance soft-roader adopts new sporty V6 diesel mild-hybrid power,...