We made it about halfway back from Los Angeles before the fuel light came on.
It was CNET's annual road trip to the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, and the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 Bluetec we had chosen for the drive had already traveled the 380 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles once. Short of it getting much better fuel economy in real world driving than the EPA estimates, we knew it wouldn't make it all the way back.
But it was still worth the attempt.
On our freeway run, 70-ish mph up the middle of California on Interstate 5, the Mercedes-Benz diesel SUV was only claiming 26 mpg, short of its 27 mpg highway estimate. When the message popped up on the instrument cluster saying it was time to fill the tank, we reckoned it could still go 50 miles. We ate up most of those miles, the car refusing at this point to tell us its remaining range, and rolled into Coalinga. With the next fuel stop another 40 miles out, it was time to throw in the towel.
Beyond a little concern over how far we could stretch out the tank, the Mercedes-Benz ML350 Bluetec made the trip very stress-free. The softness of its suspension and the sound dampening of the cabin making hours on the road seem almost restful. No one on our crew felt the need for a leg-stretching stop.
Read our review of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 Bluetec.