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Ten Best Engines Award
What is BLUETEC?
Heralded as the world’s most advanced diesel technology, the Mercedes-Benz BLUETEC can meet even the world’s most stringent emissions regulations. BLUETEC engines are built on a foundation of advanced engine design that includes the latest CDI electronic injection, a turbocharger with variable nozzle turbine and exhaust gas recirculation. Combining several technologies to minimize exhaust emissions, this high-tech powerplant represents a dramatic step forward that is already changing people’s dated perceptions about diesels.
The E320 BLUETEC achieves significantly better fuel mileage and longer cruising range (less frequent fill-ups) than a comparable gasoline-powered car, but more important, it does it without the usual tradeoffs of diesel ownership. Additionally, the E320 BLUETEC is an impressive performance car, accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 6.6 seconds.
Wards Ten Best Engines Awards
An annual selection process that began in 1994, Ward’s Ten Best Engines involves two months of evaluation by six Ward’s editors. This year, they began by nominating 33 different engines for the competition. Eligible engines must power a production vehicle with a base price of no more than $54,000, and must go on sale in the U.S. no later than the first quarter of the year. Using a number of both objective and subjective criteria in every-day driving, the journalists consider power and torque output, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, technical relevance and basic comparative numbers.
Since Ward’s Ten Best Engines awards began 13 years ago, Mercedes-Benz powerplants have won seven times, including its previous-generation turbodiesel – the 3.2-liter in-line six.
Automotive Hall of Fame
ML320CDI at 7500 Miles
Of course, considering how much we’re being overcharged for diesel right now, it should have shown a picture of a gas station attendant robbing a driver at gunpoint.
I’ve had no problems finding Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel.
Reminder: clean diesel is the only alternative fuel that works today. More energy is used making ethanol and trucking it to stations than it produces, and Mexico has already had a problem with the cost of tortillas climbing drastically because of the increase in corn prices. If ethanol begins using a lot of corn, famines in third world countries will increase.
Hydrogen isn’t there yet. It’ll be a massive breakthrough if they ever get it working economically, but it’s not there yet.
Hybrid cars and trucks of usable size have this pesky problem of costing $7,000-9,000 more than their gasoline counterparts and then not living up to their advertising claims for fuel mileage.
The ML has never averaged a tank below its city rating.
Diesel requires less crude per gallon than gasoline and produces less “Greenhouse” gases as well as better fuel mileage.
At almost 7500 miles the multifunction display said, “Check Engine Oil Level at next fill up.” I did, and it needed a quart of Mobil 1. A quick conference with the service writers revealed that seems about par for the course with the new batch of engines. Thus I’ll put a quart of Mobil 1 into the spare tire storage area (and a clean shop towel for checking oil.) I’ve become a Mercedes owner and thus don’t check my oil. Of course several cars with the electronic dipstick spoiled me.
Fortunately the multifunction display came to the rescue. If you get a similar message in your car, don’t panic. You just need a quart of oil soon. The sump has 8.5 quarts. I got one at work. If you have to look for Mobil 1—5W40, you might get frustrated. So buy a quart and keep it in the trunk.
(“But Curt, I don’t have to do that with my Lexus.” No, Lexus has you change oil more often so you don’t notice. Duh.)
I’m trying to program all multifunction displays to display “Send Curt Rich $500,” every 7500 miles, but so far I can only get it to work at 10,000-mile intervals.
There are 4 things I won’t do without for a main vehicle, and this one has them all:
“The fog lamp.”
Of course, I didn’t have the fog lamps on, but I was turning the wheel hard, so the appropriate fog lamp came on and illuminated the corner in that direction. Really cool. With my vision it’s really helpful, too.
Sirius Satellite Radio—Okay, I would take XM. There is no significant difference as far as I’m concerned. I don’t listen to Major League Baseball (Major League Boring), NASCAR (Pro Wrestling with cars), or Howard Stern (proof American society, as we know it, has gone completely to hell). The major channels are either the same or similar enough. Sirius added a Sinatra station for those of us who remember music. Sirius also got the Playboy channel away from XM. But it’s hard for me to see the point since there are no pictures in radio. Duh.
But either satellite radio service is vastly superior to AM or FM radio. Channels are nationwide, and many are commercial free. Not having to hear Mattress Mac is worth $10/month.
Navigation—This system is vastly superior to the 2002 system I had for 5 years. It’s easy to use, especially with Voice Activation. You can also put in a business’s phone # and get directions to it.
I didn’t realize it until lately, but the ML, GL, and R navigation work with the optional Voice Activation just like the S-Class. That I knew. The E and CLS don’t. That I didn’t. Bummer for them.
Putting in a destination is as easy as this. Push one of the two Voice Control Buttons on the steering wheel. Listen for a click. That means Helga, the voice control lady, is listening. Amazing! You can get a woman to listen to you by just pushing a button. Would that this were more common!
You: “Enter destination.”
Helga: “Spell a Texas street name.”
A list appears on the COMAND screen of Westheimer, Westheimer Rd., Westheimer Parkway, etc. Westheimer Rd is #2. Helga will ask you to select one.
It will then give you a choice of Houston or Harris County on the screen. If the street exists in several cities, it will list them. Pick one by saying the number.
Helga: “Do you wish to add a house number?”
Helga: “Go ahead.”
“Helga: “Would you like to start route guidance?”
Now, it helps if (a) you can spell, (b) if you know the actual number, and (c) you can read. With some streets it helps if you know the zip code.
Having the ability to put the instructions on the multifunction display is a real plus when looking for turns where there are more than 1 opportunity in a 500 ft area. Now you can keep your eyes on the traffic and still see the bar graph showing that you’re not quite there even though Helga has said, “Prepare to turn left in 500 feet.” It’s the NEXT left after thisone. Helga says, “Turn left,” and that confirms it.
The lumbar adjustment, when turned off, leaves too much support for my particular back.
There is no convenient, secure place for something the size of a Colt 1911.
No supermodel has asked me for a ride.
Distronic Plus and Radar Detectors
The Seattle Times reported the driver of a silver Mercedes-Benz S430 sedan tried to back out of a parking space, but instead drove forward over a 20-foot-tall concrete embankment on a main Bellevue street.
The driver escaped serious injury.
Investigators had determined that the car had been stopped in the parking lot, however, when the driver tried to back out of a parking space but instead ended up going forward, over the wall.
The S-430 Mercedes sedan went over the wall and came to rest on the street and sidewalk at the bottom of the embankment, sliding into another car stopped in the northbound lanes of 116th Avenue Southeast.
The 83-year-old driver lost consciousness, but then recovered and was able to talk to officers. He was taken to a hospital as a precaution. He suffered a head laceration. Investigators believe the accident was caused by a medical problem.
Witnesses said the car seemed to fly through the air and then crashed to the ground.
"I saw a car in midair and I heard a smash," said Jim Bates, of Duvall, a waterproofing contractor who was working nearby.
The Problem with SIRIUS
SIRIUS Satellite Radio is a really great system, and the setup in the ML is superb and easy to use with 10 preset channels and steering wheel mounted seek controls. It has only one fault. It has an All-Elvis channel. The Redhead wants to listen to that channel when she’s in the car. I want to listen to Fox News.
So we compromised. We listen to the All-Elvis station.
But only when she’s in the car.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a 2-month issue, but things got behind, and I didn’t want to be behind all year, so this is February/March. With luck we’ll be back to monthly next month.
Moving the Cat
Doesn’t help. The sight of suitcases makes them hide. I went to get them the last time, grabbing the first one I saw, Emerald, and putting her in the carrier. Would that the first one I saw was Arthur. But that was not to be. I began searching t he house for him and went upstairs to the game room. Other rooms upstairs have their doors perpetually closed to keep the cats out. He was, indeed, in the game room. I found him sitting on the treadmill. As I approached, George S. Patton, Jr, the Dog, ran to him, causing him to jump straight up and head for the stairs, with George and me in hot pursuit. When I got downstairs, no sign of him. I put George into the master bedroom and continued the search, upstairs, downstairs, looking behind everything. No Arthur Pendragon. Several times I looked under the bed and headboard, to make sure he hadn’t gotten there before the door was closed.
No Arthur Pendragon. He wasn’t upstairs or downstairs.
I retraced all steps, knowing that he had to be moving from place to place and staying one step ahead of me.
Finally, on the third or fourth search, I found him under the headboard. So I moved the king-sized bed to get to him. He went to the center of the bed. I moved it again. He was at the far corner of wherever I was. Finally he made a run for the door. It was closed, and George S. Patton, Jr. was waiting for him and cornered him. I reached to get him, down at his level. He climbed the wall three feet and went over my head. Another fifteen minutes went by as we danced around the bed. Finally he lay on the headboard, bored with the chase.
But when I picked him up, the tiger-like hiss, blood curdling growl, and 20 claws all came out simultaneously.
I put him in the carrier, holding him carefully to avoid the claws best I could. Gee, that was fun.
Curt Rich February/March 2007