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.
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