It's a shame the Mercedes-Benz R-class doesn't resonate with the American market. It's a great way to transport four adults and lots of luggage with a touch of class. The second-row bucket seats are a little more comfortable than the bench seating you'd find in a sedan or wagon. With the Bluetec diesel engine, it's rather fuel-efficient and can blast down the highway all day without the need to refuel.
Dynamically, the R-class is a bit too loose for my taste. Cruising down perfectly smooth highways is be very comfortable but there are too many unchecked body motions over broken pavement. The average R-class buyer is considerably older than I am, so perhaps the very soft suspension appeals to the target demographic. Steering feel isn't anything to write home about, but the wood and leather steering wheel feels very luxurious in your hands.
I'd love to see vehicles like the R-class and Mazda5 sell well in the U.S. These versatile people movers can haul a lot of cargo without a jacked-up center of gravity or lousy fuel economy. Ford is about to enter the segment with its Grand C-Max, so maybe there is some potential for increased interest.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Producer