The significance of the 2011 R350 is that it's the first major face-lift for the slow-selling R-class, and the vehicle looks undeniably better. The new styling was intended to make the R-class appear a bit less like a minivan, and that effort has succeeded. The R-class now better resembles its big, successful brother, the GL-class SUV. I've always liked the combination of utility, luxury, and prestige that the R-class provides, but the market didn't agree with me. And although the R350 has a very impressive, very efficient diesel powertrain, I'm not sure the market will respond, especially given the R350's high price. It seems that for those Americans who want to haul more than four or five people in a Mercedes, the GL is what they want. But if that big SUV leaves you cold, by all means, check out the R-class. There's a lot to love here -- just not the monthly payments.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor