With hybrids still nabbing most of the fuel-efficiency headlines in the U.S., even the most committed members of the oil-burning diesel cabal are resorting to the battery-electric solution to sell greater fuel efficiency to the American public. Witness Mercedes-Benz, longtime diesel devotee, and its 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 hybrid unveiled at the New York auto show.
Beneath the ML450’s unique hood rests a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V-6 producing 275 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Supplemented by a pair of electric motors and a 2.4-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery, the powertrain manages a maximum of 335 hp and 381 lb-ft.
The ML450 hybrid will send power to all four wheels through the two-mode hybrid transmission developed in cooperation with General Motors, Chrysler, and BMW—and found under the hoods of the Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade hybrids, the late Durango/Aspen hybrid, and upcoming X6 hybrid. The magic of the transmission is its ability to function as either a conventional fixed-gear automatic or a CVT, as both offer fuel-economy benefits in different driving conditions. Mercedes claims fuel economy of 21 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway, its own ML320 BlueTec diesel by 3 mpg in the city while matching it on the highway.
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