2011 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTec

Matt Tierney

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

Great overall "concept" & 22 mpg is actually not bad for a vehicle of this size. But 22 mpg requires diesel has an added cost which is hampered by the porky 5200lb. weight doesn't make this a good value. Plus Mercedes brain dead pricing of 52-68K is just insane as usual. I wouldn't mind getting one of these used if you can find a diesel one.
A friend ferried me and my family to the airport in a previous gen R350 and I was very impressed at just how comfortable, solid, and quiet it was as a passenger. It may not be engaging from the driver's seat, but from the passenger's perspective, it's a fantastic vehicle, which is how minivans should be, IMO. It was quite a bit smaller inside than I expected, though, holding significantly less luggage than our MDX.

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