Audi40, To respond to your questions. My primary gripe about the MB ML350BTC is that the 7G-Tronic shifts extremely rough before the drive train is fully warmed up. This same transmission did this in my 2007 ML320CDI, so it appears that very little has been done in 7 years to improve things.
The second big gripe is that the ML build quality feels more like a Chevy than a good solid German engineered vehicle, which the Q7 did. The Air-matic suspension on the ML definitely feels inferior to that of the Q7, and has less functionality. The seats, both front and back, had a much more solid and substantial feel on the Q7.
Even though smaller than the Q7, the ML has larger blind spots, probably primarily due to the considerably smaller outside rear view mirrors. The blind spot warning option is a definite MUST on the ML.
The ML does have a bunch more electronic gee-gaws, especially when added as options which are not available on the Q7. Of course the breakdown potential goes up with all that stuff.
I have not yet towed my 4400 lb camper with the ML, but have my concerns there, too. The ML has higher engine torque and listed towing capacity, but the hitch receiver is 3" lower than the Q7 and my MB G500. Not sure how this will affect the towing, but deploying the jockey wheel on the camper might be a problem, as will ground clearance. Also,those smaller outside rear view mirrors are not going to help the towing either.
Bottom line is that I can see first hand why Audi is running circles around MB and BMW in Europe; and why their market share in the US is getting larger, too. I may be selling or trading this ML earlier than planned to get back into a Q7.
These observations are obviously all very subjective; but are what I'm experiencing through the seat of my pants. I hope this helps.
PS - There is one place the ML is superior to the Q7. The Harmon-Kardon in the ML blows away the Bose in the Q7.
2000 Mercedes-Benz G500 NMLE
2010 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI (Sold, and sorely missed!)
2014 MB ML350BlueTEC (Sold)
2015 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI (On Order)
Last edited by DUTCH VanAtlanta; 03-30-2014 at 07:53 AM.