Slow sales have forced Mercedes-Benz to keep its R-class offerings simple, so the all-wheel-drive crossover is available with a choice of just two V-6 engines: one gas and one diesel. We prefer the diesel because it provides acceleration comparable to that of the gasoline engine with dramatically reduced fuel consumption. Significantly redesigned for 2011, the R-class was given more-SUV-like styling, which goes a long way toward making this Mercedes look less like a minivan. Under the skin, though, the R-class is as close as it gets to a luxury minivan. We mean that with the utmost respect, as the R is a spacious, functional, comfortable people mover. The big R-class is almost fifteen inches longer than the M-class on which it’s based and flirts with a 5000-pound curb weight, but it provides a more usable third row than most SUVs. Options include a three-zone climate system; seating for seven (six-person seating is standard); a rear-seat entertainment system; and a 115-volt, household-type plug. The R might not fit into a predefined category, but if you’re looking for full-size-SUV cargo space combined with refined road manners, diesel fuel economy, and a healthy helping of creature comforts, you’re looking for an R-class.
Trim levels: R350, R350 BlueTec
Body style: SUV/crossover, 6- or 7-passenger
Engines: 3.0L turbo-diesel V-6, 210 hp, 400 lb-ft
3.5L V-6, 302 hp, 273 lb-ft
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 162.1 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 3500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 15.2/42.2/85.0 cu ft
For 2012, the R350’s gas V-6 is replaced with the new, direct-injected 3.5-liter that makes 34 more hp and returns an additional 1 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway. Navigation, voice control, HD Radio, satellite radio, and a four-gigabyte music hard drive are now standard. Mercedes has updated the R-class with LED daytime running lights, directional lines on the rearview camera monitor, and minor interior improvements.
ABS; dual-stage front, front and second-row side, and side curtain air bags; tire-pressure monitoring; and traction and stability control are standard. Available safety features include a rearview camera, parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring.
All: 16-18 mpg city/21-24 mpg highway
- Practical and spacious
- Room for six or seven
- Diesel available
- Stodgy proportions
- Only available with all-wheel
As close as it gets to a luxury minivan.
- Acura MDX
- Audi Q7
- BMW X5
- Lincoln MKT