The new 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class was unveiled earlier today with a brand new exterior and interior redesign. The premium SUV from Mercedes will continue to compete against the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Lexus RX.

The new 2012 M-Class shares its underpinnings with the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and will launch in the US this fall. Initially, the Stuttgart-based automaker will offer three variants: 2012 ML 250 Bluetec 4Matic, 2012 ML 350 Bluetec 4Matic and 2012 ML 350 4Matic BlueEfficiency.

Compared to the current model, the exterior design is sleeker and more sculpted, while maintaing essentially the same shape and size. Inside, Mercedes-Benz has redesigned the cabin, providing more front and rear elbow room. High-tech gadgets are included in the redesign. The most obvious difference in the interior is a switch from round air vents to rectangular. Among the available finishes are aluminum and four different kinds of wood, while material choices include microfiber, leatherette and high-quality leather.

The powerplants have been upgraded as well. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 250 Bluetec 4Matic gets a 2.1 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine making 204-hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec sports under the hood a new 3.0L V6 turbocharged diesel making 258-hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. 0 to 62 mph comes in 7.4 seconds with a top speed of 139 mph. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 4Matic BlueEfficiency will be the only gasoline model available at launch. It will be powered by a 3.5 liter V6 unit making 306-hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. 0 to 62 mph comes in 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 147 mph.


All wheel drive and 7-speed automatic transmission are included in the redesign.

Pricing is expected to be around the $50,000 mark for an ML350 4MATIC and around $52,000 for a BlueTec.

As always, BMWBLOG gives you a photo comparison against BMW’s top-seller SAV, the X5. Photos include both the X5 M Sport package, as well as the standard model.