2009 Mercedes M-Class

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

First offered in '97 as a '98 model, the Mercedes M-Class SUV marked the automaker's first step into a shift from being a quaint regional luxe automaker into trying to play with the big boys on a global level. Step two was the "merger of equals" with Chrysler. Step three, which we all know to be profit, never so much happened. But, although the Teutonic knights may not have the same delusions of grandeur they once had, they're still pushing the M-Class — and here's the first shots of what the new-look 2009 Mercedes M-Class will look like with some full uncovered photos of a mid-cycle facelift. The new '09 ML is expected to get a diesel engine under the hood. On the exterior — well, see for yourself with the almost entirely nude shots below. All we know is if you take away the spare tire from the back, we think it'd look like a smiley face! Full spy report from Brenda Priddy after the jump.

Mercedes M-class is due for its mid-life facelift for the 2009 model year and we've already photographed it undergoing road testing in Stuttgart.

Like the rest of the range, the ML will receive a somewhat more prominent front bumper and skirt, plus slightly re-designed taillights.

The interior will likely be refined just a bit, and expectations are high for a cleaner Bluetec engine.

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@yellofury: I disagree. With the seats down, my 99 has hauled everything I've needed to haul. Plus, it has 4-wd (sort of) so it won't wheel spin on a mossy boat ramp and it will back my boat up the hill in my yard. Had to winch it with my 2wd SUV. Gets good enough gas mileage for my 38 mile daily round trip to work, and it's comfortable. It's basically purpose designed for what I needed, but the build quality on the first-gen was crap. Amazes me that a company that has been making cars for over 100 years would release a motor with an oil-burning issue. And a weak steering rack. And bad electronics. And so on, and so on. They didn't hesitate to charge more or put the 3pt star on it....they just forgot to test it.