The new M-class will have seven-speed automatic transmissions fitted as standard, the Presafe occupant protection system fitted to the S-class, air suspension, third-generation common rail diesel engines and a more effective four-wheel drive system.
Longer, wider and lower than the current model, it also has a longer wheelbase and will make its public debut in Detroit in January before going on sale in the US in the spring and arriving in Europe in the summer.
Prices have not yet been announced.
The entry-level diesel will be the ML280 CDI, producing 190bhp and offering about 30mpg on the combined cycle.
A second diesel variant, using a more powerful version of the same V6 engine, will be the ML320 CDI, delivering 224bhp and 376lb-ft of torque.
The petrol ML350 uses a new 272bhp V6 engine, while the ML500 uses the same V8 as in the current range.
Two different four-wheel drive systems are offered, with an off-road package providing a two-speed transfer case with an off-road ratio, manually or automatically selectable differential locks and modified Airmatic suspension to increase ground clearance.