I too like to think that the Mercedes R class is safe, but wouldn't believe it till I see an independent source conduct the test.
We had a 2001 E320 station wagon. The main reason for choosing it was for safety. I felt decieved after I saw the side impact trash results on Youtube.
Yes, you are correct on your remarks regarding MB safety from the following standpoint. Their products designed in the early 1990's and produced beginning in 1996 and until about 2005-2006 (I am fuzzy when their issues died down) were overall a major step back for the MB product line. This included safety, product structural integrity, systems integration, and general product stability. Not for nothing was their 'out of box quality' and customer satisfaction and quality ratings by J.D. Powers well down for several years!
>> Front end crash tests of the late 1990's E class showed them to be less strong than say my 2000 Buick Park Ave (which I believe to be one of the best cars GM ever produced, then they went backwards with the Lucerne, but I digress). This was in terms of the body structure at the windshield, where MB's showed structural deformation worse than prior models and worse than my Buick. Yes, agreed, this testing is on U tube.
>> Those MB's suffered from poor electronic systems integration, which is my field. One cannot 'brute force', as they say, good systems integration, but they tried and suffered for it. Lots of issues with systems.
>> Use of too much 'green' materials, without real world life cycle tests. One dealer told me to absolutely avoid certain models without a warranty, as the wiring harnesses were biodegrading in the cars and shorting out, at the cost of $12k to replace them.
>> Computerized braking was so faulty, that for period of time, they were removed from the MB product line. Yes, I know they returned somewhat later, but some had real issues.
>> General comfort. Someone decided that the glorious MB tradition of seats with springs (tuned to the suspension!) would be replaced with foam seats that were rock hard. I drove a used 2002 S Class that was so uncomfortable for a 5 mile drive that I could not wait to return it. Please note that the latest S class in the showrooms has returned to the gloriously comfortable seating.
So you will get no argument on the 9-11 year period of MB's that were dog's...just in my opinion. Safety in particular. That is why I stayed away, until my 2006 R class model, after I had owned 4 MB's.
In my opinion, MB nailed the R class. It resolves all the complaints about any MB- great console in front, great AC/Heat systems that are well modulated with quiet fans and good circulation for all, quiet ride but with smooth well damped control, 'cup holders' that are first rate...as good as I've seen, and terrific easily modulated brakes, plus a wonderful transmission that is seamless and well controlled.
Since there are side crash tests of the 2007 R class, no doubt there are frontal crash tests (somewhere). Also, the Insurance Institute publishes data on types of vehicles, including rollover. The rollover resistance was published in recent years on the new car window sticker. Some SUV's and CUV's were not very good, while the R class was very good!
So do some research please on the front crash tests and report, if you find it.
Finally, MB is usually hands down the best on rollover and crashing on the vehicle top and crush resistance of the roof tests, plus crash avoidance maneuverability. I would think that the R class tests well in this regard, but have no data to support that at this time. But I have real world experience with my R class, and over my test drive route of rough, hilly, and curvy roads, no other car was nearly as good, esp. SUV's or CUV's... no close seconds...R class is the outstanding leader in handling at all speeds.
I had a recent need to use the brakes hard on the freeway and while they were very effective and smooth with no fuss, my greatest concern that those behind me were not as capable...cars flew around me on both sides, because they could not brake as well. Before that, in Fall of 2009, I was run completely off the road by an out of control Semi coming in the opposite direction on a 2 lane road. I am absolutely convinced that the very safe and controlled handling of my R class saved me and my wife from a head on collision and rolling over in an emergency maneuver, as I only had about 1.5 seconds to react at highway speeds. I saw all 18 of his wheels pass by only 3-5 feet away. All of this happened in less than 3 seconds!
In short, I would gladly prefer to be in my R class, vs any any similar vehicle today!
P.s., get down on your hands and knees and inspect the tires on an R class, then get down and compare the wheels and tires of similar vehicles. That is a very serious suspension and set of tires meeting the road in a R class!