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R Class
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The editors of Autoweek drove and reviewed the latest R-class -
The link to the magazine article, with photos, is at the end - MW

INTERACTIVE EDITOR DALE JEWETT: To me there's no debate about what this vehicle is--it's a station wagon. And a fine one at that.

I was lucky to have the R350 on the same weekend the call came to help a family member move from apartment living to home ownership. But a 90-mile drive was needed before a single thing got moved. That's OK, two hours of R & R in the luxurious R350 wasn't a bad way to prep for a day of couch lifts and entertainment-center evacuations.

A quick note before the road test editor freaks: No, I did not relocate couches, arm chairs, entertainment centers or beds with our $68,000 people hauler. But this family member does have an extensive clothing collection--you'd have to say he's a Clydesdale of clothes horses. And with the second-row and third-row seats folded, the R350 swallowed a load large enough to outfit all the models gathered for a New York Fashion Week.

And when the moving was done, there was still the drive home. Sure, it was pushing 90 degrees outside, but the stout German seat heaters worked their magic on some seriously sore back muscles while cold air blasted from the vents to quickly cool down the cabin. The seats had firm support in all the right spots.

The driving experience is what we've come to expect from Mercedes-Benz--a rock-solid chassis that is well-damped, perfect for lulling movers to sleep as interstate miles roll by.

And I'd be hard-pressed to want anything but the diesel in this car. A day that included a nearly 200-mile round trip to the scene of the move as well as half-dozen back-and-forth runs between apartment and house drained the fuel gauge by only one-third of a tank.

Mercedes believes the redesigned hood and front fascia give this R-class a more macho look. But it didn't seem to make a difference to the people around me. The pure cruising comfort of this car makes me dream of a nice long road trip.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: I'm not sure I would ever be in the market for a vehicle like this, as I think I'd rather have a wagon that drives more like a car, or a sport ute that would offer up more utility. But having said that, you cannot argue about the overall execution here: It's wonderful. This is an elegant vehicle with room to haul six folks comfortably and in style. You almost have the feeling of a first-class airline cabin here, without the surly flight attendant.

This particular one happens to be loaded with just about every possible option, including my favorite: the 3.0-liter Bluetec diesel. I have preached long and loud about my enthusiasm for diesel-powered utes in the past, and I will stand up on the soapbox one more time. A diesel engine in a vehicle that weighs more than 2.5 tons makes damn good sense. That other automakers don't offer a diesel option in sport utes and trucks (and I guess I'm lumping the R-class into the ute category, as it seems a bit too big for crossover status) is ridiculous and very shortsighted.

EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I put a couple hundred miles on this over the weekend hauling people and stuff and was generally pleased and in some ways impressed. I was pleased with the overall driving experience, which was buttoned up and Benz-like, and I was impressed with the power of the diesel up over 3,000 rpm on the tach and the consistent 20-plus-mpg figures whether city driving or out on the highway (where it gets up closer to 30 mpg).

The engine has plenty of poke for 99 percent of the situations in which you'd find yourself while the seven-speed auto is as smooth as they come. The ride is composed and the steering feels a little heavy but not unpleasantly so. I've read some reports on R-classes that say the ride is harsh, but I didn't think that was the case here. Yes, the body felt well controlled considering the 5,200-pound weight, but a harsh ride? In my opinion, no.

The new hood and grille look good and look more like the new C- and E-class Benzes, and the interior is comfortable, roomy and high-quality.

ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR/DESIGNER TARA KLEIN: I had the R350 for one night, and I must say, it left me wanting more time with this crossover. Unfortunately, the fact that I don't have four children to cart around makes it a tad unpractical for me personally, but I did find a lot of value in this vehicle.

First off, it's a diesel, and it doesn't sound like one. For a vehicle of this size to get the mpgs that it does is a huge plus.

I feel that with a car like this, the details are what makes or breaks it. Of course, it handles and steers like a dream--I wouldn't expect anything less from a Mercedes-Benz--but the small luxuries are what really stood out to me. The map lights on the rearview mirror were excellent because they didn't interfere with my vision at night. The large center console served great as an armrest and for storage, and I'm seeing more and more of the hidden compartments. I dig them. A lot. They really sharpen up and modernize the whole vibe of the interior. Instead of the flow being constantly interrupted by cubbies, it is simple, clean and visually pleasing.

And my new favorite: blind-spot assist. When debating whether to switch lanes or merge, this feature will display an orange triangle on the side mirror where there is a car hidden in the blind spots. It's one more thing that makes this car so nice to drive. It is the epitome of luxury.

I couldn't help but sink right into the leather interior. It provided the perfect amount of comfort and support throughout my commute. When I looked out the windshield, I was greeted with a huge viewing area that almost reached the top of my head because of the dramatic slope of the front end. This, I determined, was the front blind-spot assist, because they became very minimal with this design. I looked behind me and was continually pleased with the amount of space and the massive sunroof. I also really liked the lighting placement and the separate controls in the back of the R350. Even though it was filled with rows of seating, this can easily handle a large grocery haul or a move, as Dale detailed.

The stalk on the steering column that controls the transmission was easy to use and convenient. Throughout my drive, the shifting was incredibly smooth, just like the acceleration rate and the brakes, resulting in the feeling of simply coasting down the road.

The exterior is equally as polished, with the sharp steel grey paint and body lines reaching from the front fender to taillights. The exaggerated and aggressive grille with the enlarged emblem makes a grand impression on the road and screams "I am classy," or maybe that was just me hollering from behind the wheel. Nonetheless, this car is just that--classy, luxurious, comfortable, spacious and a pleasure to drive.

NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: I enjoyed my dash home and back to work in this big Benz diesel. There's no getting around this--the R350 is huge. With three rows and more than 5,000 pounds of curb weight, it feels as large as it measures.

Still, it handles fairly well for its massiveness. There's slightly more of a car feel than SUV demeanor, I'd say, but this R-class is a definite tweener. The seven-speed is smooth, and the chassis is quiet comfortable.

This diesel is potent, and all the torque makes for strong acceleration. Aside from the slight gurgle, there's no indication that this wagon is a diesel. It's quiet on the expressways and thoroughly relaxed.

The interior is simple and refined, with nice touch parts and pleasant materials. I don't really like the numbers Mercedes uses on its center stack, but the dials and the analog clock are extremely elegant. This is a nice vehicle, but I'd go with the E-class wagon, the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, the BMW 3-series wagon or a true crossover.

2011 Mercedes-Benz R350 Bluetec 4Matic

Base Price: $52,615

As-Tested Price: $68,260

Drivetrain: 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6; AWD, seven-speed automatic

Output: 210 hp @ 3,800 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 1,600-2,400 rpm

Curb Weight: 5,203 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 20/22.4 mpg

Options: Premium 2 package including premium sound, keyless-go, iPod/MP3 cable, rearview camera, auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors, power front seats with driver memory and memory package, power tilt/telescoping steering column, power-folding mirrors, COMAND system with hard-drive navigation, satellite radio, iPod/MP3 interface, power liftgate, 115V AC power outlet ($6,050); rear-seat entertainment ($1,950); three-zone automatic climate control ($1,450); panorama sunroof with electric sunshade ($1,090); lighting package including headlamp cleaning system, bixenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights ($985); Parktronic ($800); heated front seats ($750); steel grey paint ($720); mbrace heaters ($660); blind-spot assist ($600); multifunction steering wheel ($590)

2011 Mercedes-Benz R350 Bluetec 4Matic, an AW Drivers Log

W166, W251 Moderator
1987 560SL - Signal Red, 2014 ML350 - Diamond White, 2019 Ford Explorer - Magnetic (company car)
1,265 Posts
Thanks for teh link, niice to see that MB has done something right. Fun to read the posts below, most people hate the R-Class, I guess that they haev never tried one in real life, that would change their mind

GL450, R500 traded, ML350 sold
437 Posts
Positive article for the R, but I really don't see anything that was not written on previous introductory articles for the R-class back in 2005. One exception is the mention of the diesel motor however it is hardly news being that they have been around for a couple of years already. Sounds to me like a slow week over at Auto Week headquarters...

I like the last guy's comment "... This is a nice vehicle, but I'd go with the E-class wagon, the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, the BMW 3-series wagon or a true crossover." Would be nice if he told us why???

Also, the one gal says "... Unfortunately, the fact that I don't have four children to cart around makes it a tad unpractical for me personally, but I did find a lot of value in this vehicle." Hmmm, somebody tell her that they hired her to review the vehicle and not buy it... The target market for it is the family and not the single person.

I may be a bit negative but this article is written by amateurs and not true automotive enthusiasts/professionals.
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