U.S. sales of Mercedes-brand vehicles soared by nearly 50 percent in November. Surprisingly, one of the company’s strongest sellers (behind the C- and E-Class sedans and coupes) is the 2012 ML350, a traditional luxury SUV, which came out in September and had a 38.2 percent sales increase in November. The new ML350 comes with standard all-wheel drive, has a nicer, quieter cabin, with more rear-seat space, and is both quicker and more fuel efficient than before. Mercedes also held the line on price: The new ML350 costs the same as the outgoing model with AWD. The BMW X5 is sportier, and the Lexus RX 350 and Acura MDX less expensive, but the ML350 is much improved and surprisingly affordable, as long as you don’t load up on options.