Every September my pop and I get together for dove season at the Colorado River at the California-Arizona border.
And every year I try and borrow some kind of all-wheel-drive machine to take with us. We’ve taken everything from a Range Rover Supercharged to a Porsche Cayenne to a Saab 9-2X. This year it was the Mercedes ML 350 Bluetec.
Yeah, you might simultaneously think of soccer moms driving their brood around Orange County when you think of a Mercedes ML. I had initially asked for a Gelandewagen, but the Bluetec was a brand-new addition to the press fleet and Mercedes PR seemed really excited about putting it out on the road forthwith. So I agreed to take it instead.
And as it turns out, while definitely not flossing the same macho mystique as a G-Class, the ML turned out to be a pretty good hunting rig. We don’t do any real hardcore off-roading, but the car was up to whatever we threw at it.
On the way out, with my foot in the gas, I averaged 22.3 mpg—and that included city driving prior to departure from O.C. and in and around Blythe, Calif., where we make our hunting home base. The ML’s economy computer indicated an overall average of 24-25 mpg for the trip.
On the way back, with the cruise control locked between 65 and 70 mph, the Bluetec returned 26.7. And it dawned on me that I would have probably burned between one and two hundred dollars in extra fuel had I been driving a G 550 or G 55 AMG. So thank goodness for Bluetec.
Why are Americans seemingly so resistant to the clean diesel phenomenon? Although sales are looking more resilient, our overall reluctance to buying diesel-burning cars is still keeping some of the best diesel-burners away from U.S. shores.
For example, Europeans have access to a G 350 Bluetec, which should return similar economy figures to the ML 350. Maybe a little less because of its brick-like aerodynamics. But I would have still been saving gas while still rolling around looking like a military badass.