By KBB.com Editors
Is it an SUV? Is it a really large station wagon? Is it, well, a minivan? Though the exterior styling of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz R-Class is hard to define, this is a vehicle better judged from the inside out. If you find what you desire on the inside, the exterior can be easily justified. Dubbed a "sports tourer," Mercedes believes the R-Class has what upscale families need: Luxury, space, utility and performance. The R-Class includes a seven-speed automatic transmission, an all-wheel-drive option and a choice of gasoline or diesel engines. Other stand-out attributes include its remarkably spacious and feature-rich seating for six people and so much cargo space it bests the huge Cadillac Escalade.
If your need for utility is equal to your need for luxury and the thought of driving a vehicle that may be perceived (well, perhaps) as a minivan doesn't bother you, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz R-Class is a vehicle you will want to check out.
If you don't require spacious seating for at least four people on a regular basis with plenty of additional cargo, the R-Class is too much car for you. It's big!
The R350 is now available with two-wheel or all-wheel drive. All models offer a three-person second-row bench seat, AMG body styling and 18-inch wheels. The R500 and R63 AMG are discontinued.
Driving Impressions The 3.5-liter V6 powering the R350 partnered with Mercedes' full-time all-wheel-drive system and seven-speed automatic transmission creates a pleasant, but not spirited driving experience. The R320 CDI actually feels quicker,...no surprise given its abundance of low-end torque. We found that even on winding roads, the R-Class smoothly carved through the turns and the seven-speed transmission delivered seamless shifts, always finding just the right gear when needed. Like many Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the R-Class has both Sport and Comfort suspension settings, and we found the Sport setting quite pleasing and agile. Stopping this heavy vehicle is also no problem with its 13.8-inch front brake rotors and standard ABS and Brake Assist features. The R-Class also has an excellent turning ratio, making it even easier to maneuver than many SUVs.
Second-Row "Captain's Chair" Seating
We are quite fond of the second-row seat comfort and space. This is one car that makes the back-seat riders as lucky as those in the front.
It's nearly six feet of glass, making the back-seat passengers feel much less "trapped" than in any other vehicle we know.
The interior of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz R-Class feels more like a family room than a car. Especially when outfitted with the panoramic sunroof that spans nearly the entire length of the vehicle, the interior space of the R-Class looks and feels downright cavernous. The base vehicle is loaded with eight-way power front seats, bird's-eye maple interior trim and fold-flat second and third-row seats. The R-Class' second row of seats features items usually found only in the first row: Individual seat adjustments, reading lights, armrests, air vents, cup holders, middle console and available iPod integration or dual-screen DVD player.Exterior
The R-Class's windshield and hood are raked steeply, kind of like a minivan. There is method to this van-like madness however -- it improves the aerodynamics of this heavy, 4,845-pound vehicle. The profile is long and sloping, with a slightly "chopped-top" retro appearance, somewhat reminiscent of the Dodge Magnum wagon. As you see the vehicle coming down the road, you may think it's a minivan or an SUV, but there's one thing of which you will have no doubt: With its prominent grille and nameplate branding you'll know it's a Mercedes-Benz.
Key standard equipment includes the seven-speed automatic transmission, electronic traction system, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and cruise control. For safety, Mercedes-Benz supplies each R-Class trim with anti-lock brakes (ABS), ESP stability control, a rollover sensor, front, door-mounted and side-curtain airbags for each of the three rows, seatbelt pretensioners with belt-force limiters, tire-pressure monitoring system and automatic anti-theft alarm. Other standard luxury equipment includes power front seats, easy fold-down second- and third-row seats, eight-speaker audio system with auxiliary audio input and a retractable cargo cover.
Options abound on the R-Class. A Sport Package includes 19-inch wheels, while the R320 has a fuel-efficient diesel engine and all-wheel drive. Other options include bi-xenon curve-illuminating headlights, harman/kardon Logic 7 audio system with six-disc CD changer, rear-seat entertainment system, power glass sunroof, power panoramic sunroof, power rear-quarter windows, Keyless Go starting system, satellite radio, power liftgate, navigation system, multi-contour seats, heated front seats, Distronic radar-based cruise control, rear sunshade, heated second-row seats, auto dimming mirrors, wood-and-leather multi-function steering wheel and iPod integration kit.
The R350's V6 is generally adequate but might be less spirited dealing with a loaded vehicle and a steep uphill climb. If you're not deterred by the thought of owning a diesel, the R320 CDI's turbocharged V6 diesel engine provides great acceleration and superior fuel economy.
268 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb. - ft. of torque @ 2400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 15/19 (4WD)
3.0-liter V6 Turbodiesel
215 horsepower @ 4000 rpm
398 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-2400
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24
By Rick on Tuesday, January 27, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My first MBZ was purchased new in 1975. Since then, I've owned 11 different models. This R350 Blue-tec is the finest one to date. It's quick, roomy, and well-built with great attention to detail. I get 21mpg all-around, which is pretty good considering the size and weight. I couldn't be happier. Since they have decided not to make these anymore, it's my intention to keep this great car through the forseeable future."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Ted on Sunday, December 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 145,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great highway car, good car for tall people."
Cons: "Not the cheapest to maintain"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The versatility of this vehicle is great. 4 very tall adults can travel in comfort and not cramped. The mileage is 30 with the diesel and the acceleration is the same as the gasoline engine. The ride is that of an "S" class and cargo that it can hold is great. Best vehicle ever made."
14 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By Mark c on Sunday, November 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 116,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "It's ready for whatever your life style is"
Cons: "Repair cost, v6 is a little under powerd"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I've owned my R350 for 3 years now, and it has been a eye opening experience. I have never cared for or been a fan of German luxury but I can see where mercedes was going with this car ...it works for me......it fits my life style. It's a luxury car when you go out, it's a truck when you have to haul stuff from Home Depot , it's a snow mobile in the worst snow storm. It's a great vehicle to own but! ......you will have to be a little mechanically inclined. The first time the check engine light came on , the cost of the total repairs came out to $11,000. So I soon became a owner of a hand held obd scanner to read out the "check engine light" codes and look up how to fix it it myself and saved a lot of money doing it myself. Now the R350 is a lot easier to own. Unless your financially set to pay a mercedes Benz specialist every time that dreaded "check engine light comes on.....you better get familiar with the car. Ok, but overall I looked at plenty of cars and trucks and I still think that the R350 is the best car for me. Style ,function, and drivability nothing can beat it."
16 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By ATP on Wednesday, October 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 128,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Like the hill assist and thats it."
Cons: "Spending too much money keeping this car running."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have owned the car for over 6 years and drove over 128,000 miles and I don't feel comfortable driving long distances. A faulty Engine Gas Exhaust Temp Sensor will kill the motor and your stranded on the side of the freeway until it cools down. There is some stray electrical issues and I am always replacing light bulbs. Bought it brand new, the sun roof window shade broke the first week (2 days to fix, thank God it was still under warranty). 40,000 EGT Sensor failed ($260 for Diagnostic, $220 part and $199 labor). 60,000 steering rack developed a serious leak ($4600). Replaced front headlights because of hazing plastic ($650). Transmission issues started 100,000 miles ($740). Whats next? I am completely disappointed and will never buy another Mercedes again."
11 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Jack on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great for long road trips."
Cons: "Spare tire is an inflatable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Since the R-class styling was not very popular, I felt I got a lot of car for my money, especially since I very much like the practical, aerodynamic style. I had one $800 repair in 3 years. The interior is sedate, comfortable, and very quiet. The car handles well, and gets up to 30 mpg cruising at 75."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Shockster on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"This is my first Mercedes, and I love it, but was amazed at how much work was required. When I bought it at 60,000.00 miles it immediately needed shocks, suspension air bags, and new rack and pinion. Also the mechanical opener for the hatch had to be replaced. The seats are a pain to adjust for the cargo space."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful