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By Drew Johnson

Our spy photographers have just spotted the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML undergoing some hot weather testing. While previous prototypes sported mule-like rear taillights, our spies were able to nab a few shots of the ML’s production-intent units, not unlike the ones seen on the new E-Class.

Judging from these photos, the new ML’s wheelbase seems almost the same, if not a few inches shorter than today’s ML. Whatever the dimensions will be, for efficiency reasons weight is definitely going to be reduced. This chassis will also be shared with the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2011 Dodge Durango.

While heavy camouflage hides a lot of the details, we can still see some of the changes. The doors have new sculpting, with two bold character lines visible. We can also see new door mirrors. A large angular grille with at least three chrome cross bars can be seen under the camo panels as well. We’re pretty sure that LED daytime running lights are also lurking somewhere under the camo.

Under the hood, we expect a similar range of engines powering today’s car, including the 3.5 V6, 5.5L V8 and the 6.2L V8 for the AMG model. A 3.0L turbo diesel should also continue on in the lineup. We’ve also heard that Mercedes may offer the new ML with a standard or plug-in hybrid right from the start.

This next-gen ML-Class should make it to dealers before the second half of 2011, with a starting price around the same $46,000 for the ML-350 now, ranging on to roughly double that for the premium 6.2-liter AMG model.



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