That Time a Mercedes-Benz SUV Won MotorTrend Truck of the Year

For the 2021 model year, the Ram 1500 TRX won the honor of MotorTrend Truck of the Year. In fact, last year the Ram Heavy Duty was the 2020 truck winner. The year before that, the 2019 Ram 1500 gleaned the award. But once upon a time, a Mercedes-Benz SUV took the title.

Once upon a time, a Mercedes-Benz SUV won MotorTrend Truck of the Year

As you already know, the MotorTrend Truck of the Year title isn’t easy to win. The MotorTrend team painstakingly reviews every detail of every vehicle in the running. For the year 1998, the Mercedes M-Class was one of them. In fact, MotorTrend deemed it the truck on top.

Managing Director & CEO at Mercedes-Benz India Peter Honegg announces the new Mercedes M-class SUV ML350
The Mercedes-Benz ML350 SUV | Arijit Sen/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images

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“In one fell swoop, Mercedes has redefined what a sport/utility can be and brought it to market at a bargain price.”


According to MotorTrend, with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV came the first U.S. plant. The SUVs were assembled in rural Alabama. The German luxury brand extensively strategized so that American consumers could pay less.

Is the Mercedes-Benz M-Class a good used SUV?

In 1998, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class entered a growing U.S. market for the SUV. The first model year came in one trim––the ML320 AAV 4WD. Judging by the MotorTrend ruling which named this Mercedes-Benz Truck of the Year, one trim is all this little utilitarian luxury vehicle needed. Even today, it’s considered a good used SUV.

ML320 1999 model year press photo in a scenic desert landscape
1999 Mercede-Benz ML320 | Mercedes

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From there, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class grew, adding several trims. These included the ML350, the ML320, and ML 320 CDI. It offered 4MATIC options and ran from 1998 until 2015. At that point, the German luxury brand rebadged this line of SUVs to become the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.

While there are other SUVs that offer cheaper pricing and simpler reliability, it’s hard to find another SUV both as luxurious and capable as a used Mercedes-Benz M-Class for the price. The 2015 model can be found with under 100,000 miles for less than $20 grand. Of course, adding the diesel option or 4MATIC technology will add to the price. Still, we can thank extreme depreciation for making this a good used SUV in terms of both value and capability.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX racing through sand
2021 Ram 1500 TRX, this year’s Truck of the Year for comparison | Ram

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Why it’s such a good truck

In 1998, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV won Truck of the Year from MotorTrend. But why? There’s a pretty long list of reasons, actually.

In addition, MotorTrend isn’t the only publication to praise the M-Class. According to autobytel, the M-Class SUV appeared in the 1997 film Jurassic Park. Due to the fact that it also rose to fame as the Popemobile, this Mercedes-Benz SUV made quite a name for itself.

Mercedes-Benz ML350 rear view silver crossover SUV
Mercedes-Benz ML350 | Mercedes-Benz

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The reasons MotorTrend decided it was a good enough truck to take the Truck of the Year title aren’t limited to one or two. The publication appreciated this truck because it wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing. At that point in time, SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ford Explorer dominated the scene.

The Mercedes-Benz M-Class came in to redefine the marriage between SUV capability and posh luxury. This newcomer carved a new path, showing us that SUVs didn’t have to copy each other in order to find market success. Today, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class is still a good used SUV.