15. May 2013
I happen to like OXO products, those graters and grinders and peelers and whatnot with the chunky black handles or gripping surfaces.
Compared with other graters and grinders and peelers and whatnot, the OXO products tend to be more expensive. But they are exceedingly well designed and exceedingly well manufactured.
You can pay less and get nearly the same functionality. You can pay less and get something that may even resemble the OXO. You can pay less and get, well, what you pay for.
You get less.
While it is something of a stretch from a $14.99 ice cream scoop to a 2013 Mercedes ML550 4Matic with a base price of $58,800 that has been nicely tricked out with things like voice controlled navigation, power folding mirrors, bi-xenon headlamps, lane-departure assist, air suspension, AMG 20-in. wheels, and more so that that price is now $80,815, the OXO products came to mind when I was driving the ML550.
You know when you have a faux OXO. It just isn’t as, well, substantive. It doesn’t have the same heft. It doesn’t have the same feel.
And you know when it’s real.
And the ML550 is the real deal.
Although German vehicles not all that long ago competed on the basis of something called “German engineering,” it seems that that has been replaced by everything from LED lighting (yes, the ML550 has LED daytime running lamps) to characters ranging from Kate Upton (Merc) to Leonard Nimoy (Audi).
Yet fundamentally, the solid “thunk” of a door shutting on something like the ML550 is what the engineering in question—which, interestingly enough, is actually manufactured in Vance, Alabama (outside Tuscaloosa)—is really all about. While some people use “vault-like” to describe the solidity, I imagine that the doors at Fort Knox close with more of a “whoosh” than the solid sound of security that is provided in this vehicle.
Sure, there are adjustments galore that you can deploy to climb over any nearby mountain ranges with complete confidence. But face it: You are about as likely to encounter those conditions as you are likely to use all of the 402 horsepower of the 4.6-liter V8 under the hood of the ML550.
It’s one of those things where it’s not that would, but it sure is nice knowing that you could.
While I am puzzled by the mania for the use of leather as trim on such items as instrument panels—this has become, in effect, the new LED—I find that the interior of the ML550, which has more leather than a Johnson and Murphy store, to be done in such a way that it seems in keeping with the whole ethos of a private club (OK, I’m guessing here, having not been in that sort of establishment and basing it primarily on James Bond books), but one that can not only get you from A to Z in a trice, but which could probably ford streams while doing so.
Let’s be honest here. More of us are going to get OXO pepper mills than ML550s. And many of those who get ML550s are probably going to work their pepper mills—more likely sourced from Tiffany than OXO—harder than they do the SUV.
But if you could, and if you’re interested in the solidity of authenticity, then know that the 2013 Mercedes ML550 is the real deal.
Engine: 4.6-liter bi-turbo V8
Material: Aluminum block and heads
Horsepower: 402 @ 5,000 to 5,750 rpm
Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 1,600 to 4,750 rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed electronic with paddle shift
Wheelbase: 114.8 in.
Length: 189.1 in.
Width: 84.3 in.
Height: 70.7 in.
Curb weight: 4,982 lb.
EPA: 14/20/16 city/highway/combined mpg