Mercedes R Class Review
AG Daimler’s first full size entry into the crossover market, The Mercedes R Class brings all the quality that one should expect from a Mercedes Benz, and can be bought for between $60,000 and $70,000. Unfortunately, it is a poorly positioned product likely to appeal to only a small segment of buyers.
Like all crossovers, the Mercedes R Class looks part car, part SUV, and part minivan. But like all such hybrid creatures, the designers run the risk of producing a vehicle that possesses none of the three auto types good qualities, and none of the bad. Well, The R class is not that. It provides a roomy interior that will comfortably sit 6 adults in a rare 2+2+2 three row layout (a 7th seat is optional). It comes with all sorts of toys such as a power sunroof, a bluetooth adapter, rear seat entertainment system, an Ipod dock, and a navigation system.
Like all Mercedes models it comes with a 4 year / 50,000 mile warranty The ride is beautifully quiet and smooth, even with the accelerator floored there is little more than a humming sound within the passenger compartment. There are several engine options, both gasoline and diesel, although the mid range 270 hp gasoline provides power suitable to the vehicle’s weight. Despite the power, the vehicle handles poorly due to it’s large dimensions. There was a short-lived AMG edition with a 507 hp V8, but driving that thing would be like taking the kids to soccer practice in a 3 wheeled F1 racer.
Mercedes markets the R class as a sport tourer. Ignore them. Even though they tout the all wheel drive that comes standard, I wipe my eyes and see a minivan, which is what is most resembles from most angles. It looks more like a minivan than other crossover models that are half the price of an R class! And the final tragedy is it manages this while losing the features that drive large families to minivans, such as sliding doors and cabin space.
The trouble is finding a market for this vehicle. Originally targeted at customers who need extra room but want to avoid the stigma attached to minivans and SUV’s, R class USA sales have been under 3,000 units two years running. The problem is there are many cheaper crossovers available. The fact that a comparatively equipped E class wagon can provide almost as much room and vastly superior handing most surly adds to the the positioning problem. Fuel economy can be a problem as well. the gasoline models get 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. The diesel offers only a slight advantage with 18 in the city and 24 on the highway.
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